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Casa di Trebius Valens

Form of house

This house has one entrance from the north side of the Via dell'Abbondanza. It has a ground-floor area of c. 500 m2, thus belonging to Wallace-Hadrill's Quartile 4 (1994:81). The house conforms to a relatively standard front-hall/garden plan with rooms on either side of the front hall.

Excavation reports

Unpublished: GdSc A,VI,6 (May 1912﹣March 1929):142﹣62 passim, 212﹣90 passim.

Published: Della Corte 1913:480, 1914:75﹣76, 1915:420﹣22, 424, 1916:30﹣35, 153﹣55; Spano 1915:336﹣435, 416﹣19, 429, 1916:119﹣22, 231﹣35; Spinazzola 1916:87﹣90, 148﹣51, 1917:258.

Excavation recording

The entrance to this house was excavated in 1913, but excavations inside the house did not commence until March 1915 (GdSc A, VI, 6:212). In general, the records for this period are not as full as those after World War I. The excavators were less interested in the volcanic stratigraphy or the more mundane finds (for example, ceramic and glass). The standard of excavation is exemplified in room m, where a 0.21 m x 0.15 m casket was discovered in the post-excavation cleaning. The Notizie degli Scavi are ostensibly a word-for-word publication of the Giornali degli Scavi. As such, they are mainly a record of which finds were made on which day. A bomb dropped on this house during World War II destroyed the façade and almost the entire front hall area, leaving only the extreme east and west walls of the house (Spinazzola 1953:XXIII, Figs. VIII, XI).*

Interpretation of whole house

Spinazzola noted (1953:283, 285) that much of the decoration of this house was in the Third Style and that its refurbishing had not been complete. According to the Giornali degli Scavi (A,VI,6:263), the rooms that opened onto the garden had been destroyed to one-third their original height. The excavators also reported (GdSc A,VI,6:212) that the state of the deposit made them suspect that the more precious contents had been taken in an earlier excavation. They concluded (GdSc A,VI,6:233) from the elegant paintings in rooms n and d and the reputed name of the owner, Trebius Valens, that the house would have been important for "l'instrumentum domesticum." The main basis of the identification of the owner was election graffiti referring to "Valens" and "dominus" in room l (Della Corte 1915:425).

The presence of four skeletons in the garden and one in the upper levels demonstrate that this house had been occupied at the time of the eruption. Although possessions were being kept in room e, the distribution of finds implies little activity in and around the coarsely furbished front hall, particularly in room i, which was likely to have been a kitchen. Similarly, room r shows little sign of having been used as kitchen at the time of the eruption. The apparently salvaged material in the garden area, the blocked cistern head and the semicircular hearth in the south ambulatory, and the reported unusable fountain system suggest that this house had been downgraded during its final occupancy. Thus, Spinazzola may have been correct in proposing that the skeletons in the southeast corner of the garden were not those of the original proprietor and his family, although for reasons other than he might have assumed.

* For façade inscriptions (see Della Corte 1914:75; 1915:425).