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House of the Centennial

Description of the House (Reg IX, Ins 8, 6)

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The property is composed of two main elements; a native Samnite house based around the atrium (e) (shaded in the plan above) and a Hellenistic house centred around a large peristyle. The property was built sometime in the 2nd century BC and its history includes several phases of renovation and reconstruction during the Imperial period.

The fauces (a) (pictured right) opens off the south side of the Via di Nola.
The walls of the fauces retain some small patches of plasterwork but these are far too weathered to allow a realistic description of the original decoration. The fauces has a fine black and white mosaic pavement depicting mythical marine life (pictured right) framed by a double black border.
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This part of the house is rather distressed and all the rooms surrounding the atrium are in a semi-ruinous state, with only plaster remnants to hint at the grandeur of the original fourth style decoration.

The secondary entrance (d) (pictured opposite) opens onto the smaller Samnite house (shaded in the plan above) whose atrium (e) has cubicula on all four sides. This part of the house, if anything, is in an even worse state of repair.
The long tablinum (e'), pictured below, like tablinum (c), opens onto the peristyle, but in this case directly onto the west portico.
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The west side of the peristyle (pictured below) retains much   of its frescoed decoration consisting of yellow panels framed with red separated by architectural motifs. Some mosaic flooring has survived throughout the house, especially in the rooms round the peristyle. These rooms, particularly on the south and west sides of the peristyle, have survived in much better condition than other parts of the house.
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The exedra (g), (pictured right) off the north east corner of the peristyle is decorated in the fourth style with architectural motifs framing panels containing individual figures or small mythological scenes, all on a black ground.
The room has a black mosaic floor with a double white border.

Exedra (g') on the west side of the tablinum is decorated in a similar fashion but the fourth style decoration in this room is set against a white ground. The exedra (h) located off the south eastern corner of the peristyle has not survived in such good condition, however, but does retain its mosaic paving consisting of a black hexagonal pattern on a white ground framed by a single black border.

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The nymphaeum retains much of its decoration centred round a niche decorated with mosaics from which water cascaded to a large pool set at a lower level. The walls surrounding the niche (shown above and below) are decorated with naturalistic subjects and hunting scenes.
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The bath suite (m - q) is accessed off the west side of the peristyle and comprises a furnace, apodyterium, tepidarium and caldarium. The apodyterium (m) is accessed off the north side of the frigidarium. The apodyterium retains large areas of plasterwork which would appear to indicate that the decoration consisted of black panels framed in white. In the south west corner of the apodyterium is a small arched doorway which leads to the vaulted tepidariium (n) (pictured opposite). The tepidarium is decorated with plain red panels separated by broad yellow bands above a lower black frieze.
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An arched doorway (pictured right) in the north west corner of the tepidarium opens onto the caldarium (o) (pictured below). The walls of the vaulted caldarium are decorated in red and yellow with the arches of the niches in the west and south walls picked out in white.
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Off the north west corner of the triclinium is a suite of two rooms (s and t), consisting of an outer reception room and an inner cubiculum. The location of a 'master suite' off a main reception room in a house can be seen in several other grand and less grand houses in Pompeii (the House of the Vettii and the Villa of the Mysteries, for example). These rooms would allow the patron of the house a more intimate area to receive his inner circle of friends and associates.
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The scenes on the west wall (pictured right) are of Endymion and Selene to the left and Aphrodite Pescatrice fishing on the right. The upper zone consists of architectural fantasies and floating figures on a white ground. The room has windows in its south and west walls and has a fine black and white geometric mosaic floor (pictured below).
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The middle panels on each wall contain central scenes, some of which are of an explicit nature. The scene on the east wall is of Hercules lying down with Cupids while the other two scenes are of couples in erotic poses; the scene from the centre of the south wall is pictured below.
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Opening off the north side of the peristyle immediately east of tablinum (e') is a small cubiculum (u). The room is in a semi- ruinous state with only a few small patches of plasterwork remaining. The room does, however, have a fine black and white mosaic floor, the original central panel of which has been removed and is now in the Naples Museum (pictured right). 
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The House of the Centennial is situated on the Via di Nola. The house derives its name from being excavated in 1879, eighteen hundred years after the Vesuvian eruption. The house is also referred to as the House of A. Rustii Veri and Tiberius Claudi Veri.
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The fauces opens onto a rectangular atrium (b) (pictured left) which has a central impluvium. The atrium retains large areas of plasterwork on all four walls. However, all decorative detail has been lost; all that can be said is that it was painted on a red ground. The atrium is paved in a black mosaic which incorporates rows of white tesserae and is framed by a double white border. There are two cubicula on each of the east, north and west sides of the atrium while the tablinum (c) (pictured left) is on the south side giving direct access to the peristyle (f).
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The peristyle had twenty-two Ionic columns supporting the inner margins of the roof (shown below). The columns are of stuccoed brickwork and were originally painted in the traditional colours of red and white.
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In the centre of the south side of the peristyle is the summer triclinium (i) which, regrettably, is in a ruinous state. At the rear of the triclinium is a nymphaeum (j) (pictured left and below).
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The kitchen area (k) lies to the west of the nymphaeum, as do the servants quarters which contained the household lararium (l) (pictured above). This temple style lararium was framed by frescoes. On the wall to the left of the lararium was the fresco of Bacchus and Mount Vesuvius (pictured right) which was removed shortly after being excavated and can now be seen in the Archaeological Museum in Naples.
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The tepidarium has a fine white mosaic floor which has a central black and white panel (pictured opposite) depicting various forms of marine life set in a geometric framework.
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To complete the bathing process the bather would retrace his or her steps to the frigidarium (p) which had a plunge pool (q) occupying much of the south side of the room.

A long corridor off the north west corner of the peristyle leads to a large triclinium (r) (pictured left). Its fourth style decoration has lost much of its colour and vibrancy but consisted of red panels above a lower red frieze. The central panel on each of the three walls contains a mythological scene.
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The scene on the south wall is of Iphigenia in Taurus (pictured above) while the exceptional scene on the east wall portrays Hermaphrodite with Bacchus and Silenus (pictured left). The final scene, on the north wall is of Theseus and the Minotaur (pictured below).
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The outer reception room is decorated in the fourth style with large yellow panels with internal decorative borders separated by architectural motifs on a red ground, all over a lower dark red frieze (pictured left and below). Several of the panels contain mythological scenes while others display small floating figures.
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The inner cubiculum (t) is richly decorated in the fourth style with black panels with internal decorative borders separated by architectural themes on a red ground over a lower black frieze (pictured below and lower left).
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The side panels on each wall contain small medallions featuring architectural views. The room has a black and white mosaic floor in a geometric pattern framed by a single black border (pictured 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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