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House of the Small Fountain

Description of the House (Reg VI, Ins 8, 23-24)

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The fauces (a) (pictured below) opens off the west side of the Via di Mercurio (pictured opposite). The fauces, which is decorated in the fourth style with red panels above a lower dark red frieze, leads directly to a rectangular atrium (b) which has in its centre an impluvium together with a puteal, used for drawing water from the cistern beneath.
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The atrium (pictured right) has lost most of its fresco decoration, but from the remaining fragments it would appear to have been in the fourth style with red panels above a lower dark red frieze very much in keeping with the decoration of the fauces. The floor is dark gray with small white marble chips.

Immediately south of the fauces off the south east corner of the atrium is a cubiculum (c) which is decorated in the fourth style with white panels with decorative borders separated by fantastic architecture above a lower dark red decorative frieze (pictured lower right).
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The oecus (f) off the north east corner of the atrium (pictured right and below) is almost fully open along its southern side. The room is decorated with blue panels separated by false columns above a lower black frieze. The panels contain small scenes and medallions.
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The room connects with the adjoining atrium (i) by way of a door in its north wall. This second atrium (pictured upper right and right) also has a central impluvium and is decorated in the fourth style with red panels above a lower dark red frieze. In the north east corner, next to the entrance to a small cubiculum, is an arched niche.

At the west end of atrium (i) is a second tablinum (j) (in the centre of the picture opposite). The tablinum is decorated in the fourth style in a similar manner to oecus (f).
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The west and south walls of the garden area are painted with large scenic panels on a red ground above a lower yellow/orange decorative frieze. The panels include landscapes with villas and country and maritime houses as shown by the picture of the south wall opposite.
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The walls on the north side of the peristyle (shown opposite) are decorated in the fourth style with black panels with decorative borders framed by architectural motifs above a lower yellow/orange decorative frieze. The panels contain small mythological scenes.


The House of the Small Fountain is located on the Via di Mercurio. The property was first excavated in 1823 and again in 1826. This house derives its name from a mosaic fountain at the rear of the peristyle. The layout of the house itself retains the typical plan of a Samnite house with the addition of a second entrance and atrium (i).
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The central panels on the north and south walls contain architectural scenes (pictured left) while the side panels contain small scenes of animal and bird life. The room is lit by a rectangular window high on the east wall.
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On the east side of the atrium is the tablinum (d) (pictured above). Although the tablinum has lost most of its fresco decoration, there is a large area of plasterwork on the south wall that still retains some faded remnants of large red panels above a fairly tall lower frieze. The floor of the tablinum has a broad decorative border in black and white mosaic (picture left).

The tablinum is fully open along its eastern side with a fine marble step linking it with the atrium. On its west wall is a large portal opening onto the house's small peristyle (g).

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Cubiculum (e) on the north side of the atrium is decorated in the fourth style with white panels separated by fantastic architecture above a lower yellow/orange decorative frieze (pictured above and left). The central panels contain floating figures while the upper zone consists of figures set amongst fantastic architecture on a white ground.
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The peristyle 'g' is colonnaded on two sides. The fluted columns are of stuccoed brickwork and are painted with a red base and white upper section. On the rear wall of the peristyle is the 'small' fountain (h) (pictured left and below).
The use of the fountain-nymphaeum, generally covered with mosaics and decorated with sculptures, became fairly widespread by the middle of the 1st century AD.
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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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