Description of the House (Ins VI, 11,13)
The House of the Black Hall is one of Herculaneum's more luxurious
mansions. It is situated at the junction of Cardo IV with the Decumanus
Maximus. The house has a monumental entrance (in the left of the picture
below) which still retains the carbonised remains of the doorposts and
The atrium and its surrounding rooms, as well as the
remaining rooms on the east side of the property are all in a very poor
state. Of all the rooms round the atrium, the tablinum has survived best. The walls of the tablinum are in opus
incertum with frames made of square blocks of tufa. The fourth style decoration consists of a black middle zone featuring central panels depicting a temple style structure topped by a tympanum (pictured right), above a lower purple base. The upper zone is composed of geometric motifs in purple on a white ground.The tablinum opens directly onto a square peristyle
(d) to the south. In an upper floor room, overlooking the peristyle,
were found twenty wax tablets bearing the name of L. Venidius
Ennychus as well as a number of texts concerning
his eligibility for public office.
He may or may not have been the owner as the upper floor could have been rented out. ......
adjoining room, oecus
(f) (pictured below), is decorated with white
panels framed in red separated by architectural motifs above a lower red
frieze. There is no separate upper zone in this room, as it can simply
be regarded as a continuation of the main decorative theme. Like oecus (e), the room has a white mosaic floor with a simple double border in black.
the south side of the room a door leads down to a small open area (g)
which contains a temple style lararium
(pictured opposite). The lararium
has lost all its original stucco decoration.
..On the right hand side of the entrance is a shop sign (pictured above) for the adjoining property.
The fauces (a) (pictured above) which shows a few traces
of second style decoration, opens onto a rectangular atrium (b)
(pictured left viewed from the tablinum (upper) and the fauces (lower)). In the centre of the atrium is a marble lined impluvium and a puteal with a fluted shaft made from a single block of white limestone. The walls of the atrium, built in opus incertum, are devoid of any decoration except for a few faded plaster remnants...On the west side of the atrium are two cubicula and a kitchen (j) while on the east side are a third cubiculum and an ala. At the rear of the atrium is a large tablinum (c) (in the centre of the photograph opposite) measuring 7.7m by 5.1m.
The peristyle (pictured opposite) was colonnaded on all
four sides and had a small central garden. The columns and pillars which supported the inner margins of the peristyle roof are of stuccoed brickwork while the paving of the ambulatories is of gray/black mosaic
incorporating rows of white tesserae and a white double border...
The two surviving rooms which open off the south
side of the peristyle are decorated in the fourth style. Both rooms have
partly vaulted ceilings. The decoration of oecus (e) consists of white
panels framed in blue and red on a white ground above a lower black frieze
(pictured below and left). The upper zone contains architectural and
geometric motifs in red and black on a white ground. The room has a
white mosaic floor with a simple double border in black.
......Opening off the west side of the peristyle is the large 'black hall' (h) after which to house was named (pictured opposite and below). The decoration is again in the fourth style and consists
of black central panels framed by columns flanked by black side panels containing architectural motifs. The room has a vaulted ceiling decorated with geometric patterns on a black ground.
the north west corner of the peristyle
is the cubiculum
(i) which is preceded by a
small vestibule (left) whose walls echo the decoration of the adjacent 'black hall'. The room is decorated in the fourth style
panels above a lower black frieze. The ceiling retains some of its
decoration (pictured above).