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House of the Neptune Mosaic

Description of the House (Ins V, 6-7)

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The house, also known as the House of Neptune and
Amphitrite, lies to the north of the House of the Carbonised Furniture on Cardo IV.

The owner of the house must also have owned the connecting wine shop (f) at No.6, which opens directly onto the street.
The shop, in the centre of the photograph opposite (the entrance to the house is on the left), has survived almost intact and is the best preserved example of a shop in the region.

The carbonised wooden fittings are still in place (pictured below and opposite). There are shelves for amphorae, the balustrade of the balcony and, behind the counter, a partition with two grills.
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The house has the standard layout of fauces, atrium, tablinum and garden. The fauces (a) opens off the east side of Cardo IV. On its north side is a small service room (pictured right).

The fauces leads directly to a large atrium (b), which has a marble lined impluvium (pictured lower right) at its centre. The atrium, which has rooms off all but its northern side, has lost most of its fourth style decoration, with only a few plaster remnants to hint at what must have been.

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At the rear of the atrium is a relatively small tablinum (in the centre of the photograph opposite). Some of the fourth style decoration still survives consisting of red and yellow panels above a lower red frieze. The room has a fine white mosaic floor bordered with a simple black band. The tablinum overlooks a beautifully decorated court to the rear with a nymphaeum and mosaic decoration on the walls.

In the north west corner of the atrium is whats left of the household lararium (pictured lower right). In it were found two marble slabs painted with red lines, one of which bore the artist's signature: Alexander of Athens painted this.
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The side and central niches of the nymphaeum are decorated with geometric and floral motifs and hunting scenes with dogs and deer composed of glass paste mosaics (pictured below). The niche borders and ends are decorated with shell and mother of pearl designs.
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The triclinium has lost much of its fourth style decoration which consisted of red panels separated by architectural features all above a lower black frieze. The room has a white mosaic floor framed by a border of two simple black bands.

The upstairs rooms (now open to the street as the front wall collapsed during the earthquakes that accompanied the eruption)
were decorated in the fourth style and furnished with a bronze bed and marble table. They were probably the owner’s private quarters.
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The shop, fitted with meticulous care, still has the wares on the counter and amphorae lined up on a shelf. Broad beans and chick peas were found in the large jars set in the masonry of the counter.
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A short passageway (andron) to the right of the tablinum leads to the garden court (e) (pictured below).
In the centre of the court is a summer triclinium, veneered with marble. On the far end wall of the court the nympheum is surmounted by the head of Silenus (above left) accompanied by two marble theatrical masks, one of which is pictured opposite.
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In the centre of the back wall is the mosaic after which the house is named (left and above) showing Neptune and Amphitrite surrounded by a decorative motif. In the legend, Neptune saw Amphitrite dancing with the Nereids on the island of Naxos, carried her off, and married her.

The south side of the court (pictured above) opens onto the largest room of the house, the triclinium (d) (pictured below) which was also accessed off the south east corner of the atrium.

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