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Pistrinum of Sotericus

Description of the Property (Reg I, Ins 12, 1-2)

The Pistrinum of Sotericus lies on the Via dell' Abbondanza immediately east of its junction with the Vicolo della Nave Europa. The bakery and adjoining apartments were first excavated in 1924 and again between 1953 and 1961. One of thirty-three bakeries so far found in Pompeii, the name of its presumed owner, Sotericus, appears on amphorae found on the property and on the frontage of the caupona next door.
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A doorway (pictured opposite) in the south wall of the vestibule opens onto a large rectangular room (c) which is in a rather dilapidated state. The walls of the room retain a few patches of plasterwork but nothing in the way of decoration. Opening off the south side of this room is a passageway which leads to the peristyle (e) at the rear of the property.
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Very little remains of the decoration of the upper zone of the portico but it appears to have consisted of geometric shapes outlined in red on a white ground. Opening off the western end of the portico is the triclinium (d) (pictured below).
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The triclinium, which is open to the portico over virtually its full width, has a window in its north wall which acts as a source of light for the adjoining room to the north. The triclinium has a second entrance off the southern end of the passageway that connects room (c) with the portico.

Opening off the eastern end of the portico is the small cubiculum (f). The cubiculum (pictured right and below) is decorated in the fourth style with white panels with internal decorative borders framed with a narrow red band above a lower white frieze.
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In the centre of the white panels are medallions with simple red frames surrounded by garlands. The medallions contain images of wild life including the stylized panther pictured opposite. Nothing remains of the decoration of the upper zone. The cubiculum has a window in its north wall which gives light to the room immediately to its north.
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The mills consisted of a catullus rotating on a cone-shaped centre set on a masonry base (pictured opposite). The heavy catullus acted as a hopper containing the grain to be milled. To enable the millstone to be turned (either by slave or mule), a wooden beam was slotted into the hole in the catullus. In this instance it can be assumed that the mills were turned by mules or donkeys kept in the adjoining stables (j).
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The bakery was formed from two equal sized properties; one was the bakery itself with mills, mixing room, oven and stables, while the other was a residential property. The interconnecting doors between the two confirm that they latterly functioned as a single unit.

The double entrance on the south side of the
Via dell' Abbondanza opens onto a vestibule (a) (pictured left and below). The vestibule has lost most of its plasterwork, the remaining plaster being too weathered to allow a realistic description of the original decoration. At the east end (b) of the vestibule masonry benches line the walls (shown in the picture opposite) providing a sitting area for the bakery's patrons.
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The peristyle is porticoed on its north side only with a small garden area (g) to the south. The columns supporting the inner margins of the portico roof are of stuccoed brickwork (pictured left). The walls of the portico are decorated in the fourth style with red panels with internal decorative borders separated by candelabra above a lower red frieze (pictured left). The internal borders are composed of floral (shown below) and 'embroidery' designs.
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The triclinium is decorated in the fourth style with white panels with broad orange frames and internal borders above a lower red frieze. The upper zone consists of geometric shapes and architectural forms outlined in red on a white ground.
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The bakery on the east side of the property is accessed by way of a door off the vestibule and from the portico. The impressive mill hall (h) (pictured left and lower left) contains three mills with an additional mill in the area off its south east corner (i). Two substantial brick columns form part of the structure sustaining to roof.
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A passageway off the south side of the mill hall leads past the stables to the room (k) where the bread was baked (this room is also accessible off the east end of the portico (e)). On the east side of the room is a large brick and masonry oven (l) (pictured opposite).
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In the south west corner of the room is a flight of stairs (m) to the upper floor. On the east wall, to the right of the oven, a doorway (shown above) gives access to the dough preparation room (n) (pictured left and lower left) where mixers and kneaders mixed up the dough in large stone bowls and worked it into shape in preparation for baking. In the middle of the floor are two masonry blocks, possibly supports for a large wooden mixing table.
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The walls of the room are plainly decorated with a red lower zone with white above. In the east wall are a series of holes intended as sockets for shelving supports while in the west wall are two small rectangular windows.
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Immediately west of the dough preparation room is a broad passageway (p) which leads to the south east corner of the property. At the end of the passageway is a large trough (q) beyond which can be found a well preserved latrine (pictured left). The east and south walls of the latrine are coated with a thin layer of plaster but any decoration has long since faded away.



* 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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