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Casa del Principe di Napoli

Form of house

This house had two entrances, both on the west side of the street between Insulae VI 15 and VI 16. It had a ground-floor area of c. 270 m2, thus belonging to Wallace-Hadrill's Quartile 3 (1994:81). The house conformed to a front-hall/garden plan, except that the garden area was to one side of the front hall area and otherwise the front hall had no side rooms.

Excavation reports

Unpublished: GdSc A,VI,3 (Jan 1883﹣Oct 1899):187﹣211.

Published: Anon 1896:373, 475, 532﹣36; Sogliano 1897:34﹣40, 150﹣52, 1898b:126﹣27; Mau 1898:34﹣44.*

Excavation recording

This house was excavated between August 1896 and March 1898. The excavation and recording standards are comparable to those of the Casa di M. Lucretius Fronto. Rather than providing an eyewitness account of the excavation, Mau seems to have used the Giornali degli Scavi to compile his lists of finds, but confusing some of those from rooms c and g. His original comments concentrated on the architecture and paintings.

Interpretation of whole house

A line of breaches through the walls of the rooms to the east of the front hall presumably indicates post-eruption disturbance, but many of the recorded finds were from this area. According to Mau (1898:32), the decoration in this house dated predominantly after AD 62 and was in a good state of preservation. He noted (1898:37) that the decoration in rooms l, k, and m was similar and belonged together. Schefold (1957b:152﹣53) attributed the subsequent repair of this decoration, particularly that in room k, to a second earthquake shortly before AD 79 (see the Casa dei Vettii). However, Strocka (1984a:35﹣36) argued that all the Fourth-Style decoration in this house was painted during the same decorative phase, which he dated prior to the AD 62 earthquake. He noted that this decoration must have been earlier than the coarse plaster found on the west pilaster of the entranceway, in room c, on one of the columns in ambulatory l, on the south wall of room k, and in the lararium in the garden. He identified these areas of coarse plastering as repair to damage caused by the AD 62 earthquake. Thus, his dating is based on the evident repair, but he also used stylistic comparisons with decoration in the Casa delle Nozze d'Argento and other buildings, in Pompeii and elsewhere, to back it up (see also Strocka 1995: esp. 177).**

The presence of food in room h and a skeleton in room c indicates that the house had very probably been occupied up until the time of the eruption. The finds in nearly every room of the house were largely domestic in character. Possible exceptions are storage vessels in the front hall and loom weights in room i, which might indicate some commercial/industrial activity, although not necessarily. If one accepts Strocka's dating, then the occupants, -who had used the front hall for bulk storage, housed utilitarian material in the ambulatory, and had not redecorated the south wall of room k during the seventeen years after AD 62 earthquake-seem also to have been entertaining in this room.

The discovery of cooking utensils everywhere except in the kitchen and of apparent cooking activity in room e possibly suggests unusual occupancy, reminiscent of the Casa dei Quadretti Teatrali. As has been noted, the assemblages in the front hall and possibly rooms a and c seem uncharacteristic. The assemblage in room c suggests further change of use after its Fourth-Style decoration had been coarsely repaired. Even if the decoration can be shown to date prior to AD 62, the house does not seem to have remained in the same state of occupancy from that catastrophe until the eruption of AD 79. It conceivably experienced further alterations in living conditions. This is most evident in room c and room k, where coarse refurbishing implies downgrading. The finds in room c indicate a palimpsest of activities, while those in room k show that if this room had not been used for entertaining, then it must have been used for storage (see room c in the Casa del Sacello Iliaco and room EE in the Casa di Julius Polybius).

* Since this study was completed Bernard Sigges has studied the finds from this house (2002).

** Compare Harald Mielsch (1988:90﹣130), who has disputed these fixed points. See also the argument for the unreliability of using graffiti in garden r of the Casa delle Nozze d'Argento to date the wall decoration.