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House of Venus in a Bikini

Description of the House (Reg I, Ins 11, 6-7)

The House of Venus in a Bikini is located on the south side of the Via dell' Abbondanza at its junction with the Vicolo della Nave Europa. The rather plain entrance (A) is currently blocked off and the house is consequently not open to visitors. Although the facade of the house (pictured below) was first cleared in 1913, it wasn't until early 1954 that the interior of the house was excavated. Further excavations took place in 1955 and 1961.
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In the southwest corner of the atrium excavators uncovered the remains of a cupboard in which were found several household artifacts and some personal items. Among the items found * was the marble statuette of Venus in a gold bikini (after which the house was named) and some fine gold jewellery (pictured lower right).

* The statuette (pictured right) may also have come from the cupboard under the stairs in the tablinum as the excavators reports are rather sketchy about the exact location of the find.


Off the northwest corner of the atrium is a small cubiculum (c) which appears to have been undergoing redecoration. The existing wall surface had been readied for the application of new plaster, but this work had not started at the time of the eruption.

The shop (d) in the north east corner of the property has a wide entrance off the Via dell' Abbondanza and is connected to the rest of the house by means of two doorways in its southern wall. The westernmost doorway leads directly to the atrium while the eastern doorway connects with a small room (e) which may at one time have been an ala off the atrium but was subsequently partitioned off.

This room (e) was possibly a cubiculum or perhaps a storeroom. The walls are coated with a layer of coarse plaster and it may be that this plaster, similar in nature to the coarse plaster found in the atrium, was a base coat in preparation for final decoration.

Two further cubicula occupy the remainder of the east wall of the atrium. Cubiculum (f) is decorated in the fourth style with white panels framed in red above a lower yellow decorative frieze. The larger cubiculum (g) (pictured below) is decorated in the fourth style with white panels featuring mythological scenes accompanied by floating figures all above a lower red frieze.

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The house is also occasionally referred to as the House of Maximus after an inscription, 'Maximus Rog(at)', found on the facade of the building. Two further inscriptions found inside the house, however, refer to two completely different individuals, leaving the ownership of the property at the time of the eruption open to debate.
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The fauces (a) (pictured left) is decorated in the fourth style with yellow panels framed in red above a lower black frieze. The yellow panels contain central medallions featuring female heads. The decoration is unfinished and was despoiled by graffiti prior to the eruption.
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The fauces opens onto a rectangular atrium (b) which has rooms off all but its western side and has at its centre an impluvium once decorated with coloured marbles. On the south side of the impluvium are three masonry supports each painted yellow with a red border. The two shorter supports possibly sustained a table while the taller, central support may have been intended as a pedestal for statuary.
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The atrium (pictured left) was undecorated, the walls merely coated with a layer of coarse plaster. This lack of decoration coupled with the unfinished state of the decoration in the fauces tends to suggest that the house was in a state of flux at the time of the eruption.
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The tablinum (h) is on the south side of the atrium, directly opposite the entrance. The room has a wide opening onto the atrium while on its southern wall are a door and window which open onto the garden to the rear. The tablinum (pictured lower left) is decorated in the fourth style with yellow panels framed in red above a lower red frieze. Like the decoration of the fauces, the yellow panels contain central medallions of female heads, but the decoration also features a figured panel of Dionysus and Silenus (pictured below). In the north west corner a flight of stairs led to the upper floor.
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The walled garden (i) (pictured left) retains much of its fourth style fresco decoration on its south and west walls. The decoration consists of garden scenes featuring trees, birds and flowers framed by broad yellow and red borders. On the wall in the south east corner of the garden is a small niche.
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The triclinium (j) (pictured left) is entered from the east side of the garden. The decoration of the room is in the fourth style and consists of framed yellow panels on a white ground featuring architectural motifs and standing figures all above a lower red decorative frieze. The yellow panels contain small floating figures and a central mythological scene. The two surviving scenes are of Artemis with Acteon and the Judgement of Paris (pictured below).
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The kitchen (k) was entered from the garden by means of a narrow doorway (left) in the east wall (now blocked off). The walls of the kitchen were were finished with a layer of plain plaster.



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Images ©Jackie and Bob Dunn are reproduced by permission from their website at www.pompeiiinpictures.com
(Su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali: Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei)




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