Information concerning the rooms in Casa di Trebius Valens

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Entranceway c
Front hall a
Room b
Room d
Room e
Room g
Stairway h
Room l
Room m
Room n
Corridor f
Room i
Garden x
Room p
Room y
Room q
Room u
Room t
Room s
Room r
Room z
Upper Levels

Entranceway c in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This was a relatively wide main entrance that led from the north side of the Via dell'Abbondanza to front hall a. There is no record or evidence of the decoration or pavement.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

A bell found in the entranceway 2.6 m above the floor was probably a doorbell.

Interpretations of room:

The walls are today preserved only to a maximum height of 1 m because of bomb damage during World War II. The house door had reportedly been closed at the time of the eruption (GdSc A,VI,6:151).


Front hall a in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

Front hall a was entered from the south through entranceway c. Rooms g and b opened off its south side; rooms h, l, and m off the west side; room n and f off the north side; and room e off the east side. The walls were covered with coarse plaster (GdSc A,VI,6:226; Spano 1915:337, 416). The only painted decoration was on the jambs to room n, which were painted with vegetal ornaments on a black background (Spano 1915:416). The pavement was cocciopesto.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

The excavators noted (GdSc A,VI,6:233) that the volcanic deposit in the front hall had been disturbed.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

The central water-catchment pool (impluvium) was furbished with cocciopesto. Near the main entrance was found a tufa pilaster, possibly a support for a table, and a coin. A chain with a rod and suspension ring was found near the entrance to room g. This was probably part of a lantern or of a set of scales. A small chest was recorded from the northwest corner near the north jamb of room m. With it were found bronze fragments, including five rings (reportedly curtain rings), an iron axe, and an iron knife. Similar pieces were recorded near room n and were probably associated with this chest. A bronze patera was recorded near the west wall, and two ceramic vessels (a jug and an amphora) are unprovenanced.

Interpretations of room:

Spinazzola noted (1953:283) that the front hall had been denuded of decoration but that its new refurbishing had not yet begun. Despite the apparently incomplete coarse refurbishing, this front hall had conceivably been at least partially furnished (see the Casa di Julius Polybius, the Casa della Venere in Bikini, and the Casa del Fabbro). The position of the support for a table might have been the result of post-eruption disturbance. Its apparent dislocation, however, is consistent with that of furnishings found in other front halls (for example, front hall b in the Casa del Menandro) and a base found in the garden of this house.


Room b in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This room was to the east of entranceway c and entered from the front hall through a narrow doorway in the center of the north wall. A doorway in the center of the east wall provided access to room d. The walls of this room were decorated with large red fields on the south wall and a central purple field between green side fields and white candelabra on the west wall (GdSc A,VI,6:226; Spano 1915:337). The pavement was in calcestruzzo.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

A marble mortar was recorded from this room.

Interpretations of room:

The presence of a mortar suggests that this room had been used for some industrial or utilitarian domestic activity, which is not in keeping with the observed wall decoration and implies a downgraded occupancy.


Room d in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This, the largest closed room in the house, was in the southeast corner and entered from room b through a narrow doorway towards the south end of the west wall. The walls were decorated in the Third Style, consisting of a black geometric socle zone, a black central zone with side panels and vignettes separated by strips with vegetal candelabra, and a black upper zone with architecture. The pavement was in calcestruzzo, as was that in room b.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

The north wall of this room had a large breach in the center, and there was another large breach in the east wall.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

Two fittings, a boss and a guardispigolo, suggest that a cupboard or chest might have stood in this room. Other finds included a bronze vase and a marble parallelepiped with a marble handle.

Interpretations of room:

The original entrance to this room had reportedly been from the front hall, but this was walled up (GdSc A,VI,6:227; Spano 1915:337) before rendering of the east wall of the front hall in the coarse plaster. Based on the evident disturbance and the finds, it would seem that this room once had a container with domestic utensils. If so, this is reminiscent of the situation in similar rooms in other houses (for example, room 11 in the Casa del Menandro, room 09 in the Casa del Fabbro, and room 10 in the Casa della Venere in Bikini). The inclusion of a marble block (height: 55 mm, length: 170 mm, width: 83 mm) possibly from statuary or furniture recalls salvaged fragments in hall 41 in the Casa del Menandro, in room 08 in House I 10,8, and in room d in House I 6,8-9).


Room e in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

Room e was on the east side of front hall a and entered from the latter through a narrow doorway in the center of the west wall. The wall decoration consisted of simple white central and upper zones with fields separated by blue and red bands above a black socle. It appears to have been in a simple Second Style. The pavement was in calcestruzzo.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

Room e had a breach in the south wall corresponding to that in the north wall of room d. A similar breach in the north wall implies tunneling through this side of the front hall.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

In the northwest corner was found a coffer or box reportedly containing exclusively luxury quality items: a bronze guctus, a silver attingatoio, two unguentaria of semi-precious stone (Spano 1915: Figs. 4-5), two silver spoons and three silver needles, a bronze lamp (Spano 1915:Fig. 6), and gold and semi-precious jewelry. It is conceivable that any less impressive finds made here were not recorded.

Interpretations of room:

The nature of the finds could permit one to perceive of this room as a bedroom or boudoir. If it was not being used as such at the time of the eruption, it might have been used to store precious household items.


Room g in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This room was to the west of entranceway c. The walls were furbished with a high painted socle divided into quadrants (GdSc A,VI,6:233; Spano 1915:416). There is no record or evidence of the pavement.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

No finds were reported.

Interpretations of room:

The lack of finds in this room could have been either the result of heavy disturbance, an indication that this room was not in use prior to the eruption, or an indication that the excavators were disinterested in mundane finds.


Stairway h in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This room was in the southwest corner of front hall a and entered from the latter through a doorway at the north end of the east wall. The walls were plastered. There is no record or evidence of the pavement.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

This area consisted of a stairway to the upper story, under which was a niche, possibly a built-in cupboard. No loose finds were reported.

Interpretations of room:

According to the Giornali degli Scavi (A,VI,6:233; see Spano 1915:416), the space under the stairs had been adapted for storage; however, there is no evidence that it was being used for that at the time of the eruption.


Room l in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

Room l was on the west side of front hall a and was accessible from the latter through a narrow doorway in the south end of the east wall. The walls were decorated in the Second Style (Spano 1915:416), consisting of a black plinth; a socle zone of yellow, pink, and green orthostats; a central zone of yellow and red orthostats, rows of ashlar blocks, and a molded cornice; and an upper zone of imitation marble blocks. The pavement was cocciopesto with scattered black and white tesserae.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

No finds were reported.

Interpretations of room:

Spano believed this room to have been a cubiculum with a partially vaulted and partially flat roof corresponding to the position of a bed. There is no evidence indicating that it had been used as a bedroom at the time of the eruption.


Room m in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This room was on the west side of front hall a and was fully open onto the latter on its east side. The walls were decorated in the Third Style, consisting of a dark red compartmentalized socle zone with plants; a white central zone with fields with vignettes separated by red columns and garlands; and a white upper zone with architectural elements and garlands. The pavement was cocciopesto delineated and decorated with black and white tesserae in a carpet pattern of crosses.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

Previous excavations disturbed the front part of this room (GdSc A,VI,6:233; Spano 1915:416). There is an unpatched breach in each of the north and south walls.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

Nothing was recorded during the excavation of this room, but a small bronze casket was reported during later cleanup.

Interpretations of room:

This room has been referred to as an ala (Spano 1915:417). The discovery of the casket conceivably suggests that it had been in use at the time of the eruption.


Room n in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

Room n was at the north end of front hall a. It was fully open onto the latter on its south side, and a window across its north side opened onto the higher level garden. The walls of this room were decorated in the Third Style (Spano, 1915:418), consisting of a black geometric socle zone, a central zone with a central aedicula and central panel against a black field and red side fields with ornamental borders and vignettes, and an upper zone with central pergola and side aediculae. The pavement was coarse cocciopesto.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

This room had been disturbed (GdSc A,VI,6:233; Spano 1915:416). There were breaches in the east and west walls, that in the west almost through to room p. As the latter room is at a significantly higher level, the resulting breach was probably impossible to pass through, indicating that it was probably not made by anyone who knew the layout of the house. The decoration of this room was in a bad state at the time of excavation (Spano 1915:418).

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

No finds were reported.

Interpretations of room:

This room has been referred to as a tablinum (Spano 1915:417) that did not give access to the garden.


Corridor f in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

Corridor f was in the northeast corner of front hall a and provided the only access from it to garden x. Room i opened off its east side. The walls were furbished with coarse gray plaster, and the pavement was probably lime mortar.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

There was a breach in the west wall of this corridor.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

No finds were reported.

Interpretations of room:

None.


Room i in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

Room i was on the east side of corridor f and was entered from the latter through a narrow doorway in the west wall. There is no record or visible evidence of wall decoration or any pavement.*

Condition of volcanic deposit:

A breach was made in the south wall corresponding to that in room e. There would also have been one in the north wall into room y. This is consistent with a passage of disturbance along the east side of the front hall.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

This room had a semicircular niche in the west end of the south wall. It also reportedly contained a latrine, a bench, and a praefurnium to heat room q (GdSc A,VI,6:246; Della Corte, 1916:32, Fig. 2). No loose finds were reported.

Interpretations of room:

The fixtures appear to give evidence that this room had been used as a kitchen (GdSc A,VI,6:246; Della Corte 1916:32). The lack of loose finds suggests that it was perhaps not fully functioning at the time of the eruption.

* This room and rooms r, s, t, u, and z were completely overgrown with heavy vegetation at the time of writing.


Garden x in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This colonnaded garden (figure D.127) occupied most of the northern section of the house. It was entered from the south through corridor f. Rooms p and y opened off its south side, room z off its east side, and rooms u, t, s, and r off its west side. Colonnaded ambulatories occupied the south side, the south end of the east side, and a narrow strip along the west side. With the exception of the south wall, which had a high pink socle with white plaster above, the walls of the ambulatories were decorated in the Third Style, consisting of a black socle zone with plants. The north wall of the garden area was also painted in the Third Style, consisting of a black socle zone with plants and a central zone consisting of an imitation of walls of rectangular stone blocks in white, yellow, purple, and blue. The columns were painted dark red in the lower part and red in the upper part. The pavement of the ambulatories was in calcestruzzo (GdSc A,VI,6:245).

Condition of volcanic deposit:

The roof of the east ambulatory of the garden was relatively well-preserved at the time of excavation (GdSc A,VI,6:262; Spinazzola, 1916;149﹣51). Skeletons in the southeast corner provide evidence of death at ground level during the eruption (GdSc A,VI,6:250).

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

Against the north wall of the garden area was a three-sided masonry dining couch, in the center of which was a circular, decorated marble table (figure D.128 and figure D.129). A marble statuette of Eros was found beside the table (Warscher 1948:4, No. 243a). In front of the dining area and in the center of the garden proper was a semicircular basin with a fountain. An amphora and the base of a dolium, walled into the northeast corner with a lead tube attached, possibly constituted a small fountain (GdSc A,VI,6:264). In the northwest corner of the garden recess were two niches and a window to the west ambulatory. According to the Giornali degli Scavi, a window in the middle of the wall in the northwest corner was for passing food from room r (GdSc A,VI,6:266).

Against the wall of the east ambulatory was found a large travertine base, reportedly for an honorary statue (Della Corte 1965:346; Spinazzola 1953:296). It was found upside down (Spinazzola 1953:294 Fig. 31; figure D.130) and was inscribed "TR MIL IIII DUOVIR QUATER" (Della Corte 1919:242, No. 28; figure D.131).

Against the west wall in the south ambulatory was a semicircular structure that has been identified as a hearth (Della Corte 1916:31). There was also a cistern mouth in front of room p, which had gone out of use, according to Della Corte. Against the southeast column was found a bronze needle. An iron hoe, a bronze buckle, and the remains of a ring handle were found against the window to room q. It is conceivable that a cupboard or chest had stood here. Part of a bronze chain was found near corridor f.

Four skeletons were found along the wall of the east ambulatory during the removal of lapilli from the southeast corner (GdSc A, VI, 6:250; Spinazzola 1916: Figs. 1,2). The first skeleton was found facing the wall with trunk erect, hands at chest height, legs horizontal, and feet behind the pelvis of the following skeleton. The second skeleton was found squatting, facing forward, hands at chest level, and feet on the pavement. The third was also squatting, approximately in profile, with left hand on the wall, right hand on thigh and feet on the pavement. The fourth skeleton was squatting facing the wall, hands raised to shoulder height and feet on the pavement. These skeletons had gold and iron jewelry (Spinazzola 1916:Fig. 3) and had between them one iron key and probably eight bronze coins.

Interpretations of room:

Some of the fixtures and finds in this garden suggest that it had a formal function. A particular example would be the statuette of Eros, but its location and the lack of a fixed base on which it might have once stood are curious and reminiscent of the statue of Apollo in the garden of the Casa del Menandro. This statuette might have been salvaged from elsewhere, a suggestion strengthened by the presence of the base of a dedicated monument against the east wall. This base had probably originally been set up in a public rather than domestic area. Its discovery upside down and reportedly being used as a table (Spinazzola 1953:296) does not support Della Corte's proposal that it had been salvaged from the forum after the AD 62 earthquake by the descendants of the man being commemorated (Mouritsen 1988, 207﹣8, No. 427; Allison 1992b:54; 1995a:169).*

Spano argued (1916:233) that the fountain in this garden would not have functioned after the earthquake of AD 62 because the aqueduct was not working and because the amphora built into the wall in the northeast corner of the garden for water collection would not have supplied enough water. He also noted a mound of earth in the southwest corner of the garden, which he argued had probably been made to contain water between it and the culvert. This activity, the blocked cistern, and the apparent hearth in the southwest corner imply that the garden had been downgraded and was no longer fulfilling its presumed formal function. Spinazzola concluded (1953:283) that this garden was being restored at the time of the eruption, although he could find no evidence that work had been in progress. Rather, the salvage activity and downgrading appear to have postdated any restoration noted by Spinazzola.

According to Spinazzola (1916:90), the skeletons against the east wall were a family group, but he did not think they could have been the proprietors of this beautiful house. It is difficult to understand his reasoning. He either felt that their jewelry was not of a quality suitable for people of equestrian ancestry and who had stood for election, or that the owners must have escaped from the eruption in order for them to have returned to salvage their possessions, as reportedly witnessed in the disturbance to this house. As none of this reasoning is backed up with any solid evidence, it is probable that the people found in the garden had been the occupants of this house at the time of the eruption. At that time the house doors had been closed, and one of them had an iron key.

* Mouritsen dated the inscription to the end of first century BC and noted that the name was effaced. However, I found no trace of effacing on the base.


Room p in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This was a large room in the southwest corner of the garden with its north side fully open onto the latter. The walls were decorated in the Third Style, consisting of a black geometric socle zone, a central zone with a central aedicula against a yellow field and red side fields with vignettes and ornamental borders, and a white upper zone with architectural elements and garlands. The pavement was cocciopesto delineated and ornamented with white and black tesserae in a carpet pattern with medallions in white marble.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

As mentioned above, the breach in the east wall of this room probably did not provide access for intruders.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

There is a short recess in the southeast corner of the east wall (figure D.132). No finds were recorded.

Interpretations of room:

According to Della Corte (1915:420), this was an exedra. There is no recorded evidence for the function of this room or that the recess had contained a bed at the time of the eruption. The fairly well preserved state of the walls and their decoration and the lack of evident disturbance to this room suggest that it had not been in use at the time of the eruption.


Room y in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This was a small room in the southeast corner of the garden and entered from it through a narrow doorway in the east end of the north wall. A small window in this wall provided light from the garden. The walls were decorated in the Second Style, consisting of a black socle zone, a purple central zone with orthostats, and an upper zone of rows of ashlar blocks. The pavement was cocciopesto with a pattern of scattered rectangular and rhomboid pieces of white marble.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

This room had a breach in the east wall and one in the south wall, implying that it had been disturbed.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

One ceramic amphora was found here.

Interpretations of room:

This room has been identified as a small dressing room for the bathroom, room q (GdSc A,VI,6:245; Della Corte 1916:31). While it is difficult to ascertain whether an amphora would normally have been found in such a room, it is noted below that the bath suite might not have been in use at the time of the eruption.


Room q in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This small room (figure D.133) on the south side of the garden was entered from room y through a narrow doorway in the center of the east wall. The walls were furbished with fine white plaster. The pavement was in cocciopesto delineated and decorated with white tesserae in a carpet pattern of a lattice of rhomboids.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

The west wall of this room had an apse, and the south wall was fitted with a lead pipe (GdSc A,VI,6:246; Della Corte 1916:32). No other finds were recorded here.

Interpretations of room:

This room has been identified as a small caldarium (GdSc A,VI,6:245). The lead pipe probably conducted hot water from a praefurnium in room i. As in the comparable room 47 in the Casa del Menandro, however, nothing indicated that this room had a bath at the time of the eruption (GdSc A,VI,6:265; Della Corte 1916:31). Therefore, it probably was not functioning as a bathroom at that time.


Room u in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

Room u was on the west side of the garden with a narrow entranceway in the east side of the south wall leading to the south ambulatory. The walls were furbished with a high black socle zone with white plaster above (GdSc A,VI,6:253). There is no record or visible evidence of the pavement.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

The extant walls of this room had no traces of breaches. The potential desirability of some of the recorded finds suggests that it had not been disturbed after the eruption.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

In the southwest corner of this room were found a marble table (Spano 1916:Fig. 1); a glass storage flask; a terra sigillata plate; a bronze basin and bronze forma di pasticceria; an iron knife; three bronze statuettes of Hercules, Venus, and Mercury (Spano 1916: Figs. 2-4); a glazed lamp; and six bronze coins. Other unprovenanced finds included a small bronze vessel; a bronze casseruola handle and two other bronze vessel handles; two ceramic vases, another glass storage flask, and an unguentarium; and two bronze coins.

Interpretations of room:

These finds seem to have been stored here, although the wall painting was slightly more elaborate than what seems to have been normally found in a storeroom. The table and statuary were probably furnishings from the garden, stored here either in the final eruption or during an earlier abandonment of the garden activity. Many of the other finds, particularly large ceramic and glass vessels, were probably not the type to have been hurriedly stored during the final catastrophe. The fragmentary nature of the bronze vessels may have been the result of environmental conditions but could represent salvaged material. It is difficult to assign this storage to a specific event. Its occurrence in an at least partially decorated room suggests storage during a disruption, but the assemblage would not appear to be of a type to have been stored during the urgent conditions of the final eruption.


Room t in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This room was on the west side of the garden and was fully open along its east side onto the west ambulatory. The walls were decorated on a black ground with a socle zone similar to the garden area (GdSc A,VI,6:253, 266). There is no record or visible evidence of the pavement.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

Only one bronze coin was reported from here.

Interpretations of room:

With only one losable object recorded, it is impossible to ascertain the final function of this room, although the lack of other finds hints at its abandonment prior to the final eruption.


Room s in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This was a small room on the west side of the garden and accessible from the west ambulatory through a narrow doorway in the north end of the east wall. The walls were decorated on a white ground with quadrants formed by black and red lines (GdSc A,VI,6:266). There is no record or evidence of the pavement.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

The west wall of this room had a small, shallow, quadrangular niche (GdSc A,VI,6:266). No loose finds were reported here.

Interpretations of room:

The lack of reported finds might indicate that the room was abandoned prior to the final eruption.


Room r in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This small room in the northwest corner of the house was accessible from the west ambulatory of the garden through a wide doorway in the east wall. It was reportedly a rustic room (GdSc A,VI,6:266).

Condition of volcanic deposit:

This room is now filled with debris and hence inaccessible.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

A mound of rubble in the southwest corner and a smoke hole above in the west wall led the excavators to believe that the former had been a small hearth (GdSc A,VI,6:266). An iron rake and a ceramic vase were also found in this room.

Interpretations of room:

According to Spano (1916:233), this had been a small kitchen. However, as the mound was apparently difficult to identify at the time of excavation, it is conceivable that it had already gone out of use prior to the eruption. A rake might not normally be found in a kitchen. If this room had once been a kitchen, it might not have been functioning as such prior to the eruption.


Room z in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

This was a relatively large room in the northeast corner of the garden entered immediately from the garden proper through a narrow doorway towards the north end of the west wall. It also had a window at the south end of the west wall and another in the south wall. The walls were decorated with a simple Third-Style decoration consisting of a black socle zone with green bands and a central zone with white fields divided by yellow candelabra and surmounted with a frieze (GdSc A,VI,6:263, 268). The pavement was not recorded, and there is no visible evidence of it.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

There were two large breaches, one in the north wall and one in the east wall, reportedly at the height of the frieze. These indicated to the excavators that this room had been disturbed (GdSc A,VI,6:263, 268).

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

Only one small glass bottle and bronze fragments, possibly from a container, were recorded.

Interpretations of room:

This room might have contained a cupboard or chest with domestic material; the limited contents were conceivably the result of evident post-eruption disturbance.


Upper Levels in Casa di Trebius Valens

Description of room:

The stairway in room h indicates that there had been an upper story (Spano 1915:416) in at least the front part of the house that had been accessible from inside the house. The ceiling above room b also reportedly showed evidence of an upper story (GdSc A,VI,6:226; Spano, 1915:337).

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

A well-preserved human skeleton wearing an iron ring and carrying a key was found in the southeast corner of the house. There were other scattered finds in this area and above entranceway c (GdSc A,VI,6:162).

Interpretations of room:

The recorded finds, particularly the skeleton, might indicate occupancy of the upper story at the front of the house. It is impossible to assess the relationship of this victim to those in the garden area. If both iron keys were house door keys, then this individual could conceivably have belonged to a separate establishment, possibly upstairs.