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House of the Orchard

Description of the House (Reg I, Ins 9, 5 - 7)

This house, on the south side of the Via dell' Abbondanza, is also known as the House of Euplia and the House of the Floral Cubicula. The last house on the block, it is a small but elegant home. At the entrance to the house is a cast of the original wooden door, visible in the picture below. Also visible is a view of the atrium through the entrance to the adjoining shop.
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The house follows the standard atrium/garden plan. The walls of the short fauces (a) (pictured opposite) retain some plaster remnants, but they are in a very weathered condition making it impossible to determine the nature of the original fresco decoration. The fauces opens onto a reasonably square atrium (pictured below, looking back towards the fauces) which has a central impluvium. The atrium (b) is in a semi-ruinous state but it would appear that the walls were originally plainly dressed with fine white plaster. The floor of the atrium consists of crushed lava decorated with small chips of white marble.
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The cubiculum has a mosaic marble floor consisting of a geometric pattern in black and white (pictured right). At the rear of the room, in the area where the bed would have been, the mosaic gives way to a more basic floor inlaid with chips of white marble.
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Linked by a doorway to the triclinium is another cubiculum (k), which is decorated in a similar manner to cubiculum (f). (This arrangement of a cubiculum linked to the triclinium is quite common in Pompeii, and can also be seen in the House of the Vettii and the House of the Centennial). Along with birds, snakes and other animals, different trees can be identified - oleanders, laurel, myrtle, lemon and cherry, painted on a black ground. On the end wall a snake is shown sliding up a fig tree (pictured below and opposite).
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To the south of the exedra is a further cubiculum (m) which has a black and white mosaic floor. In the south east corner is the service area including a kitchen (n) with stairs to the upper floor. Under the stairs is a latrine. (One further flight of stairs can be found on the west side of the tablinum).

To the south of the kitchen, at a lower level, is a workshop (o) which had its own access to the unnamed street on the east side of the insula.
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Immediately west of the fauces is a small room (c) with stairs to the upper floor. The room has little in the way of decoration.

To the east of the fauces is the rear entrance to the shop (d) attached to the property. The activity of the shop is unknown, but as the house contained a large number of amphorae when excavated, it seems likely that it was a wine shop. A bronze water heater was found in the adjoining room (e) which may have been used to heat water to mix with wine.

In the centre of the east wall is a cubiculum (f) which has survived in remarkable condition (pictured left with a detail from the south wall below). The decoration, which is typical of the first century AD, consists of garden scenes against a blue background with rich bird life, flowering shrubs, statues and fountains beyond a pergola decorated with scenic plaques displaying Egyptian motifs.

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Next to the cubiculum is an ala (g) which has lost much of its fresco decoration. The ala has a black and white mosaic floor framed with a black border.
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On the south side of the atrium is the tablinum (h). The west wall of the tablinum retains much of its plasterwork but any decoration has long since faded. The tablinum, which is open at both ends, overlooks the small garden (i) to the south which was colonnaded on three sides (pictured opposite).

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The triclinium (j) which opens off the north east corner of the colonnade is decorated in the third style, with architectural motifs separating panels of mythological scenes painted against a black background (pictured left and lower left). The mythological scenes represent Diana observed bathing by Actaeon, The Seven against Thebes and The fall of Icarus (pictured below).
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The decoration gives the impression of viewing a garden from a white pergola.
The floor of the cubiculum is paved with a black and white geometric mosaic (pictured below). Adjacent to the rear wall the floor is slightly raised where the bed would have been.
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The cubiculum has a vaulted ceiling with a floral decoration on a black ground framed with a broad red border (pictured below). On the south wall a window once opened onto the exedra (l), but this has since been blocked off.
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Artwork for the research project on Regio I, Insula 9 by the British School at Rome was done by Nicholas Wood. Part of his work included an album-style interface which shows a reconstruction of the House of the Orchard in plan and section.


* 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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