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Villa of Diomedes

Description of the Villa

The Villa of Diomedes lies on the south side of the Via dei Sepolcri beyond the last group of tombs on the left of the road leading from the Herculaneum Gate. The villa, excavated between 1771-74, was named after the tomb of Marcus Arrius Diomedes which faces the entrance on the opposite side of the road.
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In front of the entrance (pictured above) was a porch as shown in the longitudinal section opposite. The entrance (a) opens directly onto a peristyle (b) in the middle of which was a small garden (pictured below and right). To the right of the entrance a flight of stairs leads to the lower level.
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To the left of the entrance off the east side of the peristyle is a small triangular court (c) containing a plunge pool (pictured right). In the north west corner of the court is a hearth on which a kettle and several pots were found. The back wall of the pool was originally decorated with a garden scene, not dissimilar to those in the frigidaria of the two older public baths. Over the tank was a roof supported by two columns, and on the other two sides of the court there is a low colonnade.

The private bath suite is unusually complete, comprising an apodyterium (d), a tepidarium (e) and a caldarium (f), from which the tepidarium was warmed by means of an opening in the wall; the caldarium has a hollow floor and walls and was heated from the kitchen (g). The caldarium, like those in the public baths, has a bathing basin (pictured right) and a semi-circular niche to contain the labrum.

In the south east corner of the peristyle is a flight of stairs which leads down to a garden area that is as yet unexcavated. To the west of this is a semi-circular cubiculum (i) built out into the garden. It had three large windows and was separated from the rest of the house by an anteroom (h). The cubiculum, which contains an alcove for a bed and a masonry wash stand, is similar to one found in Pliny's villa at Laurentum. The final room on the south side of the peristyle is a small cubiculum which connects on its west side with the winter triclinium (n).

On the west side of the peristyle is the tablinum (j), which could be closed at the rear. Beyond the tablinum was originally a colonnade which was later turned into a corridor (k) with rooms at either end (pictured right). Beyond this colonnade was a broad terrace (l) extending to the edge of the garden. Connected with it was a promenade (o) which was built over the colonnade surrounding the large garden below. At opposite corners of the promenade were two belvederes (p). A large rectangular room (m) (omitted from the section for clarity) was afterwards built on the terrace, splitting it in two. Stairs (s) give access to the lower section of the villa.
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The garden enclosed by the colonnade was planted with trees, charred remains of which were found at the time of excavation. In the middle was a summer triclinium (r) which was sheltered by a pergola (pictured above). To the east of the triclinium a fish pond (q) (pictured right) included a fountain.
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Two bodies were found near the door at the rear of the garden. A further thirty-four bodies were found in other parts of the house.

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The front of the villa forms a sharp angle with the street. The orientation of the building was determined by an abrupt drop in the ground level, which runs across the middle of the site, dividing the building into two parts. The front part is about a metre above the level of the street while the rear, as may be seen from the accompany section, is considerably lower.

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The flat roof of the lower garden colonnade was carried on the outside by a wall and on the inside by square pillars (pictured above and left). The floors of the south, west and north sides of the colonnade are raised above that of the front (east side). Underneath was a wine cellar, lit by small windows in the wall on the side of the garden. The cellar contained a large number of amphorae. Opening off the eastern side of the colonnade are a series of vaulted rooms. These rooms retain much of the fourth style decoration (one of the rooms is pictured below).
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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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