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House of the Silver Wedding

Description of the House (Reg V, Ins 2, i)

Also known as the House of L. Albucius Celsus this house was excavated on and off between 1891 and 1908. The house was named in 1893 on the occasion of the 25th wedding anniversary of the then reigning Italian royal family, Umberto and Margherita of Savoy. The house is situated on a minor side street, the Vicolo delle Nozze Argento (in the centre of the photograph below).
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Built in the 2nd century BC, the house retains much of its original layout. The short fauces (a) which opens off the south side of the Vicolo delle Nozze Argento is decorated with large yellow panels beneath a white upper zone. Opening off either side of the fauces are plainly decorated rooms (c) and (d). These two rooms are of indeterminate use, perhaps once shops but latterly they appear to have been used as storerooms.
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The atrium is decorated in the fourth style with black panels bordered by red above a lower black frieze with a second style upper zone of multi-coloured blocks (recreation pictured right). In the centre of each black panel was a small picture of a swan or a miniature landscape.
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Cubiculum (f) is similarly simply decorated in the second style. The third cubiculum (g) on this side is undecorated and has a stair to the upper floor on its north west wall. On the south side of the ala, cubiculum (h) (pictured opposite) is decorated in the fourth style with white central fields framed by architectural motifs and cupids above a lower red decorative frieze.
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Next to the stairs on the opposite side of the atrium, cubiculim (i) is decorated in the fourth style with white panels framed with architectural motifs above a dark  red frieze (pictured left). The panels contain central medallions rimmed in red. The medallion from the north wall is shown opposite, but the detail is very blurred and the subject matter is hard to make out. The adjoining room (j) is coarsely decorated with rough plaster and may simply have been used for storage.
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The ambulatories of this Rhodian peristyle (where one side is higher than the others as shown in the photograph opposite) are decorated in the fourth style with black panels (red on the north side) separated by architectural motifs above a lower black frieze. The columns in the north ambulatory are fluted and painted yellow in the lower circular part and white above. The columns in the other ambulatories are hexagonal and painted in the traditional red and white. In the central garden were found glazed Egyptian style statuettes of animals, an example of which is pictured right.
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Completing the rooms on the south west side of the peristyle is a second triclinium (s) decorated in the fourth style with black panels separated by architectural elements above a lower black frieze.
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Along the south east side of the peristyle are two cubicula (t and v) and a central exedra (u). The cubicula are very similarly decorated in the second style in red, green, yellow and purple above a lower yellow decorative frieze. Cubiculum (t) is pictured opposite.
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The fauces leads to a monumental atrium (
b) (pictured left): with its four tall Corinthian columns set around a large impluvium it is generally considered to be the finest tetrastyle atrium in all of Pompeii. The fluted columns are of tufa, stuccoed over the lower portion and painted in the traditional red and white. The compluviate roof has palmette antefixes and lion-headed gutter spouts (one of which is pictured above).
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The atrium has cubicula on its north east and south west sides. Cubiculum (e) in the north west corner of the atrium is plainly decorated in the fourth style with white panels framed in red on a white ground over a lower decorative frieze.
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The tablinum (k) lies on the south east wall opposite the entrance. The tablinum (left) is decorated in the fourth style with red and yellow panels over a lower frieze of yellow divided by bands of red. It has a plain white mosaic floor with a single black border. The tablinum is open to the atrium over its full width. A large portal in the south side of the tablinum opens directly onto the peristyle (m) while a narrow doorway in its south east corner gives access to the triclinium (l).
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The triclinium appears to have been in the process of decoration at the time of the eruption. The base coat of plaster had been applied but no further progress was made. Like the tablinum, the triclinium also opens onto the peristyle, picture left and below.
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Opening off the north west corner of the peristyle is the kitchen (n). The kitchen has a masonry hearth on its south west wall. On its south east wall (pictured opposite) are the remains of a masonry base probably intended to support the lead vessel used to supply hot water to the adjoining baths suite. In the right side of the photograph is the door to the latrine.
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The bath suite comprises an apodyterium (p), a tepidarium (q) and a caldarium (r). The apodyterium (pictured below) and the tepidarium (pictured left) are decorated in a mix of second and fourth styles based on a theme of yellow panels above a red lower frieze while the caldarium appears to have been left undecorated.
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To complete the bathing experience there was a plunge pool (pictured opposite) in the garden (o) to the rear of the complex which served as a frigidarium. Access to the pool was by way of a door in the centre of the north west wall of the apodyterium.
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The central exedra (pictured opposite) is decorated in the second style with yellow panels containing garlands of fruit above a lower yellow frieze all beneath a geometric upper zone.
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The Corinthian oecus (w) off the south east corner of the peristyle has, at its eastern end, four dark red hexagonal columns on square podia painted to resemble marble. The room (pictured lower left) is decorated in a mix of styles; the central zone is in the second style with red and dark red panels with garlands over a fourth style lower black decorative frieze. The floor consisted of  black and white mosaic with a large central pattern of interlocking circles surrounded by borders of meanders and triangles.
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A narrow doorway off the north east side of the peristyle (pictured above) leads to a large garden (x). The garden had been colonnaded at one time but the portico appears to have been demolished either deliberately or by natural causes prior to the eruption.  The garden contains a summer triclinium (pictured left) and a central pool.


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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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