Description of the House (Reg I, Ins 15, 2-3, 4, 6)
The House of the Ship Europa
is situated on the Via di Castricio (the entrance is pictured below).
The house was first excavated between 1951 and 1961 and again in 1972,
1973 and finally 1975. The house is so called after a grafitto drawn on the north side of the peristyle
depicting a cargo ship and its life-boat, with the inscription
'Europa'. The name alludes to the Greek heroine kidnapped at sea by
The fauces leads directly to the peristyle (b) (shown below) which is colonnaded on three sides.
The colonnade is supported by brick pillars at the corners. On the west
side there is a central brick pillar while on the north and south sides
fluted columns of stuccoed brickwork
sustain the remainder of the colonnade.
On the east side of the fauces is a narrow cubiculum (c) pictured right). The room is decorated in the first style with bands of stucco in the form of imitation marble blocks above a deep lower orange frieze.
The decoration of the upper part of the walls consists of a deep
cornice topped with further stucco work in the form of a colonnade.
two adjoining rooms (d and e) have lost most of their fresco decoration
but retain a few plaster remnants. Room (d) gives access to a secondary
entrance to the property at doorway No. 2.
At the eastern end of the northern side of the peristyle,
beyond a masonry bench, is an oecus (f) (pictured right). The east wall
of the oecus retains some large areas of plaster but the decoration is
too faded to allow a proper description. In the centre of the south wall
is a large rectangular window which overlooks the peristyle garden
Immediately west of the fauces is a room (g) in which is displayed an olive crusher. The olive crusher (pictured opposite) was designed to
separate the pulp of the olives from the stones, which were thought to
impair the flavour of the oil produced. It consisted of a deep circular basin of
lava, so hollowed out as to leave a central pinion on which was
fitted a revolving wooden crosspiece carrying two wheels of lava, each
having the shape of a half lens. The wheels were carefully balanced so
that they would not press against the sides of the basin and crush the
stones of the olives.
On the west side of the peristyle
is the kitchen (h) (pictured right). The walls of the kitchen are
undecorated. A narrow doorway in the south wall opens onto the house's
latrines. In the south west corner of the kitchen is a flight of stairs
to the upper floor of the adjoining room to the south (pictured below).
This room (i) is undecorated and is lit by two small windows in its
The fauces (a) which opens off the south side of the Via di Castricio, is decorated in the first style
in the form of rows of painted plaster blocks imitating marble cladding
(pictured below). The upper zone is separated from the middle zone by a
broad stucco cornice.
On the wall of the peristyle immediately east of the doorway to cubiculum (c) is the graffito after which the house was named; a drawing of a cargo ship with the name 'Europa' on the prow towing
a small life-boat (pictured left). A drawing of the full ship, discovered in 1957,
is shown below, with the portion in the photograph opposite outlined in
At the east end of the southern arm of the peristyle
(pictured left) is a large rectangular basin (j) in which were found a
number of amphorae. Next to the basin is the entrance to a large
triclinium (k) (pictured below). The triclinium retains some areas of fresco decoration,
especially on the south and east walls (pictured lower left). The detail,
however, is rather fragmentary but it appears to consist of a paneled
central zone above a lower orange frieze.
During excavations in the garden (l) (pictured left) late last century roots from a vegetable garden and orchard were uncovered. The plants grown included beans, onions and cabbage, grapes, cherries,
peaches and lemons, which were held in high regard for their medicinal
Seeds and seedlings from some exotic plants were kept in
28 terra-cotta vases found along the boundary wall. It would also seem
that animals were raised in stalls at the back of the garden.
* Images ©Jackie and Bob Dunn are
reproduced by permission from their website at
(Su concessione del Ministero per
i Beni e le Attività Culturali:
Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di
Napoli e Pompei)