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House of the Priest Amandus

Description of the House (Reg I, Ins 7, 7)

The entrance to the house opens inconspicuously off the south side of the Via dell' Abbondanza (the gated entrance on the left of the photograph below) just west of its junction with the Vicolo dell'Efebo. The house was first excavated in 1912 and again  more extensively in 1924. The house derives its name from an external wall inscription (on the extreme left of the photograph) which states 'Amandus Sacerdos'.
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The walls of the long, unpaved fauces (a) are mainly coated with a layer of coarse white plaster. The exception to this is a high dado in yellow plaster along the west wall (in the right of the pictured opposite). Underneath the layer of coarse plaster was an earlier layer which came to light when a large area of plaster spalled from the west wall. This earlier layer was decorated with red painted figures shown in the throes of battle, with some Oscan script annotating the scene (pictured below).
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Opening off the north east corner of the atrium is the kitchen (c). The walls of the room were coarsely plastered but little of the plasterwork remains today. Against the west wall of the kitchen is a masonry hearth. At the east end of the kitchen is a small storeroom and latrine with a low bench against the outside wall.
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Next to the kitchen is what appears to have been a storeroom (d) with roughly plastered walls. The room is lit by a window set high in its east wall. To the south of the storeroom is a small cubiculum (e) (in the left of the photograph opposite).
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The yellow side panels each feature a floating figure in the form of a cupid (pictured lower right). The cubiculum has a built-in cupboard on its north wall (pictured below) which occupies the space under the adjacent stairs to the upper floor. Sitting in the cupboard is a small stone altar which was not found in the room but probably somewhere else in the house.The vaulted ceiling of the room has lost all of its decorative detail.
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In the north west corner of the atrium, beyond the flight of stairs (i) to the upper floor, is a large triclinium (j) with well preserved third style decoration. The fresco decoration consists of large red panels set against a black ground above a lower black decorative frieze (pictured below).
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On the north wall the scene depicts Hercules in the Garden of the Hesperides (in the right of the picture above). On the east wall the scene is of Daedalus and Icarus, a detail from which is pictured below. Off the four scenes this is probably in the worst condition with much of the detail blurred and a large section of the picture missing.
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The fourth scene, from the south wall, is of Polyphemus and Galatae (pictured opposite). An interesting detail in this scene is the bow of a multi-level oared ship, probably a quinquereme, with high bulwarks and many armed men on deck.
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At the north end of the west wall of the peristyle is an arched niche (shown in the picture opposite) ornamented with stucco. Although there is no lararium painting, it was probably a shrine as no other was found in the house. The peristyle encloses a small garden (l) in the centre of which is a simple marble table decorated with a lion's head (pictured below). In the north east corner of the garden area is a fluted marble puteal (pictured lower right) sitting over the cistern.
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On the west side of the peristyle is a large exedra (m) which was undecorated at the time of the eruption. The room was lit by a large window overlooking the garden to the east.

To the north of the exedra is a storeroom (o) which has two entrances from the peristyle on its south wall. The walls of the storeroom were dressed with coarse gray plaster. A narrow doorway in the south end of its west wall opens onto a small room (n) which had a flight of wooden stairs to the upper floor in its south west corner.
The room is undecorated.
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The skeletons of nine bodies were found in the fauces, spread along its entire length. The remains were found less than a metre above floor level suggesting that they had been killed early in the eruption or that volcanic debris had not breached the area of the fauces until some time later.

The fauces leads to a square atrium (b) with rooms off all but its southern side. The atrium has a central impuvium and was decorated in the third style, although little of this decoration remains. The south wall was decorated with large white panels above a lower red frieze. The west wall (pictured left) was painted red to the top of the doors with an upper zone in white decorated with architectural elements.
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The walls of the cubiculum retain some small areas of decoration which was in the second style and consisted of a yellow central zone above a lower violet frieze. The room has a narrow doorway at the west end of its south wall giving access to the adjoining ala (f).

The ala was entered from the atrium by way of a wide opening in its west wall and by the connecting doorway to the cubiculum (e). The decoration of the ala is a mixture of third and fourth styles. The east wall (pictured opposite) was decorated in the third style with large blue panels either side of a red central panel set in an architectural frame. The lower frieze was black while the upper zone had architectural motifs against a yellow ground.

On the west side of the atrium is a cubiculum (h) which is decorated in the third style; the yellow side panels have internal decorative borders while the dark red central panels contained a mythological scene set in an architectural frame. The remaining scene on the south wall is of Helen and Paris (pictured left, with an expanded view below).
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The central panel on each of the four walls contains a large mythological scene set in an impressive architectural frame. On the west wall the scene is of Perseus and Andromeda (pictured below).
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The red side panels are ornamented with decorative borders and contain standing and floating figures (pictured left).
The upper zone consists of architectural elements on a yellow ground. The room has a dark grey floor inset with white tesserae in the form of a carpet of latticed squares. In the centre of the floor is a decorative panel of medallions of opus sectile in strips of coloured marble.
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The house has an unusual layout, with the peristyle offset to the west. The tablinum (g) in the southwest corner of the atrium (pictured left) forms a link between the atrium and the peristyle. The tablinum was decorated in the third style with black panels decorated with architectural landscapes above a lower red decorative frieze. The tablinium is fully open to the atrium on its east side and to the peristyle on its west side.
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The peristyle (k) to the west of the tablinum, was colonnaded on its east and north sides with stuccoed tufa columns supporting the inner margins of the roof. The walls of the ambulatory together with the west wall were decorated in the third style with a red central zone ornamented with vignettes of cupids above a lower black ornamented frieze. The decoration of the upper zone consisted of architectural elements on a white ground. The south wall had a tall pink dado with white plaster above.
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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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