Information concerning the rooms in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

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Entranceway a
Front hall l
Room b
Stairway ST
Room c
Room d
Room e
Room f
Room g
Room i
Room h
Garden m
Room g'
Room n
Room o
Room p
Upper levels

Entranceway a in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

Entranceway a consisted of a very long narrow corridor that led from the Via dell'Abbondanza to front hall l. The plaster on the walls was coarse with the exception of a high socle in fine yellowish plaster covering the right wall, and the pavement was of beaten earth (Maiuri 1927:19).

Condition of volcanic deposit:

The skeletons found in this entranceway seem to have been intact except for skeleton 6, which was crushed in building rubble. This suggests that the corridor was undisturbed after deposition. There was a breach in east wall at the south end, but its proximity to skeleton 9 and the lack of evident disturbance suggest that it had not been made by post-eruption looters (unless these skeletons had been the intruders).

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

The principal finds in this corridor were nine skeletons spread along the corridor's entire length. Of skeleton 1 in the entranceway, reportedly a child, only the head and upper part were recovered. The lower part was presumed to have been in the Via dell'Abbondanza. This implies that it fell inward. Skeleton 2 was face up. The fourth skeleton is on its side but face down. Associated finds included bronze and gold jewelry, two vessels (Maiuri 1927: fig. 8), and three coins that they seem to have been carrying. Four bone hinges could have belonged to a cupboard that was reported to have been on the upper floor, in the vicinity of the entranceway. Two iron hinges, found 1 m above the pavement, were probably from the entrance door.

Interpretations of room:

Maiuri believed (1927:19) that the presence of a wooden door halfway along the corridor made this into a vestibule and a fauces. The coarse plaster with a high socle on the walls suggests deterioration in living standards. Underneath the latest plaster, however, was an older coarse plaster on which were painted red figures with traces of an Oscan inscription (Maiuri 1927:21; see also Pesando 1997:168﹣74).*

According to the Giornali degli Scavi (A,VI,6:326﹣28), it was possible to preserve only the head and shoulders of skeleton 8 in plaster because it was the only one that left an imprint in the ash. This could mean that the others were lower in the lapilli, where making an impression was impossible, but this is unclear. That the skeletons were all found less than 1 m above the floor suggests that they had been killed early in the eruption or that lapilli had not reached into this corridor until later. The relationship of the skeletons to the breach in the east wall points to the possibility that these individuals made this hole. This observation might be used to argue that they were post-eruption intruders, but the inclusion of one child and at least one bejeweled possible female in their number suggests that they were in fact fugitives. The lack of finds with the skeletons throws doubt on their association with the house (De Caro 1990:161). That the second skeleton was found face up suggests that they had been moving from inside the house to the street rather than the reverse when they were struck down by the force of the deluge outside.** This interpretation might have more weight if these skeletons could be associated with the breach in the east wall. They would therefore be likely to have been the occupants of the house, at least immediately prior to the eruption. From lack of evidence for post-eruption disturbance here, they were likely to have been carrying very little with them when they decided to escape.

* This provides evidence for replastering on top of old plaster.

** Illustrations of plaster casts (for example, Conticello et al. 1990:133) show the majority of victims found in the street to be face down.


Front hall l in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This front hall was entered from the north through entranceway a. Room b opened off the northwest corner, room i off the northeast corner, rooms e, f, and g off the east side, and rooms c, d, and stairway ST off the west side. The east side of the front hall was furbished with painted plaster (Maiuri 1927:22). The south wall had a low red socle with a white central zone, and the west wall was furbished with a high red zone to the height of the doors, a frieze, and a white upper zone with architecture. The pavement was cocciopesto decorated with marble segments (Maiuri 1927:22).

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

The central water-catchment pool (impluvium) was furbished in tufa. Three bone hinges were found here. Given the apparently careless method of collecting finds in this house, these finds suggest that this front hall had contained cupboards and/or chests, as did the front halls of the Casa del Fabbro, House I 10,8, and the Casa dei Quadretti Teatrali. Two clay weights found here were conceivably loom weights, and two small bowls containing paint suggest either cosmetics, some type of industry, or use for redecorating the house (see Conticello et al. 1990:155, Nos 20﹣24). The whole assemblage suggests weaving and dyeing, but the remains are too scanty to draw reliable conclusions.

Interpretations of room:

This front hall had conceivably been furbished and in a manner similar to the front halls in a number of other houses in this sample. A lack of evidence for domestic paraphernalia from possible cupboards or chests in this front hall might be the result of post-eruption disturbance or an indication that little had been stored here at the time of the eruption. If the latter were true, the habitual activity of the front hall had perhaps been disrupted prior to the eruption.


Room b in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This relatively large room was entered from front hall l through a narrow doorway in the east end of the south wall. The walls were decorated in the Third Style, consisting of a black compartmentalized socle zone with still lifes; a central zone with central aedicula, large central panels (Polyphemos and Galatea on the south wall, Ikaros on the east wall, Heracles in the garden of the Hesperides on the north wall), and red side fields with ornamental borders and vignettes; and a yellow upper zone with architectural elements. The pavement was cocciopesto delineated and ornamented with white tesserae in the form of a carpet of latticed squares. It had a central mosaic emblema c. 1.2 m from the east, north, and west walls and 2.1 m from the south wall consisting of medallions of opus sectile in strips of colored marble.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

This apparently well-preserved room does not seem to have been disturbed by post-eruption intruders. The central panel from the painting on the west wall was found on the floor (GdSc A,VI,6:328). This suggests it fell out of the wall before any lapilli accumulated in this room.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

The only finds here were three bone hinges and a lead weight, reportedly from a set of scales. Both were found 1 m above the floor; so, they could have been part of a cupboard and its contents or could have fallen from the upper story.

Interpretations of room:

Maiuri identified this room-with its well-preserved Third-Style decoration, ornate pavement, and relatively large dimensions-as a "stanza tricliniare" (1927:22). The dimensions of the pavement design were adequate to accommodate couches 3 to 3.5 m in length and 1.2 m wide. However, no finds from this room confirm its use as a dining room during its final occupation. Either there had been no couches here at the time, or they had been a simple plank-type similar to those in room HH in the Casa di Julius Polybius. In the latter case, one would expect some record of their fittings, though.


Stairway ST in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This stairway (figure D.95) led from the northwest corner of front hall 1. After a few steps heading west and a landing, it had two flights, one leading to a room above room c and the other to a terrace above room b, where the traces of the steps were placed over pre-existing plaster and indicated two phases of construction. The walls of this stairway were plastered with gray socle imitating marble.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

The finds from this stairway consisted of what were likely to have been door fittings, near the threshold, and a ceramic amphora and another vase on the landing.

Interpretations of room:

The placement of vases on the landing recalls stairway SS in the Casa di Julius Polybius and stairway 03 in the Casa degli Amanti.


Room c in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This room was entered from front hall l through a narrow doorway in the center of the east wall. The walls were decorated in the Third Style with a central zone of red, yellow, and green fields, central aediculae, and central panels (Helen and Paris on the south wall). The pavement was cocciopesto delineated and ornamented with white tesserae in a lattice of rhomboids.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

The report (GdSc A,VI,6:329) that many fragments of stucco, possibly from the ceiling, were found in the volcanic deposit removed from this room suggests that little attention was paid to stratigraphy. Maiuri stated (1927:25) that the vaulted ceiling was in situ and that the decoration could be reconstituted and put back, indicating a concern to restore the room's structure and decoration rather than for its contents.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

This room had a built-in cupboard on the north wall (figure D.96) under stairway ST and a recess in the southeast corner. The only loose finds included an iron lamp, the remains of a spindle, and a bronze coin.

Interpretations of room:

According to Maiuri (1927:25﹣26) the recess along the south wall was for a bed. Architecturally and spatially, this room could have contained a narrow bed. However, while hinges and fittings were recorded in other parts of the house, none were recorded from this room. If it had been used as a bedroom prior to the eruption, it could conceivably have contained a wooden bed with no metal fittings, but it is curious that the room showed no signs of activity beyond the easily lost coin, spindle, and a lamp (which might be from the upper floor). This means either that little was to be found in bedrooms under normal conditions, that this room had not been a bedroom, or that it had been vacated at a time unrelated to the final eruption.


Room d in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This room was in the southwest corner of front hall l and led to garden m to the west. It was fully open onto the front hall on its east side and onto the garden on its west side. The walls were decorated in the Third Style (Maiuri 1927:26), that on south wall being well preserved and consisting of a red compartmentalized socle zone with flowers and possibly a black central zone with panels of architectural landscapes and with ornamental candelabra. The pavement was cocciopesto.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

No finds were reported.

Interpretations of room:

Maiuri has referred to this room as a tablinum (1927:26).


Room e in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This room was in the southeast corner of front hall l and was entered from the latter through a wide doorway in its west wall. It was also entered from room f through a narrow doorway in the west end of the north wall. The east wall was decorated in the Third Style, consisting of a black geometric socle zone; a central zone with a red middle field with central aedicula and central panel, and blue side fields with vignettes; and a yellow upper zone with architecture. The south wall had been restored in the Fourth Style, consisting of a black socle zone, a central zone with a red middle field and black side fields, and a red upper zone. The pavement is of cocciopesto with a pattern of rosettes in black and white tesserae and a black and white guilloche pattern at the threshold.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

No finds were reported.

Interpretations of room:

Maiuri (1927:26) identified this room as an exedra or a zotheca without doors to the front hall. The Second-Style decoration was much deteriorated at the time of excavation and had been repaired on the south wall.


Room f in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This room was on the east side of front hall l and was entered from the latter through a narrow doorway in the center of the west wall. It was also entered from room e through a narrow doorway in the west end of the south wall. The wall decoration on the east wall was in the Second Style, with a violet socle zone and central zone of yellow and violet orthostats, but the south wall was built later and the decoration repaired. The pavement was of cocciopesto delineated and ornamented with white tesserae in a lattice pattern of rhomboids.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

Numerous fragments of plaster were found amongst the removed volcanic deposit (GdSc A,VI,6:331).

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

There is a recess in the southeast corner.

Interpretations of room:

Maiuri (1927:26) identified this room as a cubiculum, the decoration of which had practically disappeared. The recess is of suitable dimensions and location to accommodate a bed. However, there is no evidence that this room had been used as a bedroom at the time of the final eruption.


Room g in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This room was in the northeast corner of the front hall and was entered from the latter through a narrow doorway in the center of the west wall. The walls were coarsely plastered, and the pavement was of cocciopesto (GdSc A,VI,6:331).

Condition of volcanic deposit:

Again much painted plaster was found in the volcanic deposit removed from this room (GdSc A,VI,6:331).

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

One bronze hinge found in the entrance was probably a door fitting. Fifteen small bone hinges were found in the volcanic deposit, suggesting the presence of a cupboard or chest.

Interpretations of room:

Because of the coarsely plastered wall, Maiuri suggested (1927:26) that this room had been used as a cella penaria. The painted plaster fragments were likely to have been from the upper floor, as the bone hinges possibly were.


Room i in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This was an L-shaped room in the northeast corner of front hall l. It was entered from the latter through a narrow doorway in the south end of the west part of the room. The east end of this room led to room h. The walls were coarsely plastered. There is no record or evidence of the pavement.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

A breach penetrated the wall in the southwest corner of this area. Remains of ash and fuel were found on top of the bench along the west wall (GdSc A,VI,6:330).

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

To the west of the entrance to this room below the breach in the wall was a masonry platform into which was set a tufa rim, presumably a cistern head. On top of this rim was a terra-cotta puteal. Along the west wall to the north of this platform was a bench (figure D.97), on which were found a tripod, an iron rod, nine ceramic vessels, two bronze vessels for cooking and two for pouring, and a glass bottle.* The discovery of a guardispigolo near the entrance, near an iron lock, suggests that it was a door fitting. Other finds in this area included a small glass bottle, an iron axe, and two ceramic pouring or serving vessels.

Interpretations of room:

Mauiri (1927:26) identified this area as the kitchen and noted that rustic pottery and tripods were in place at the time of the eruption. This suggests a kitchen functioning presumably until the final abandonment of AD 79, although a glass vessel on top of the hearth is odd.

* Foss (1994:252) suggested that a bronze elliptical lid found in this room was a baking cover. From the description (Maiuri 1927:29), it appears to have been more like the flat type of lid used to cover the large elliptical basins identified as water containers, possibly for ablutions (see Tassinari 1993, I:233).


Room h in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This was a small area to the east of room i. The walls were covered with coarse unpainted plaster. The pavement consisted of large terra-cotta tiles.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

This area has a low bench or platform, to the south end of which was a latrine (figure D.98). The platform was higher in the northeast corner. On it were found three ceramic storage vessels.

Interpretations of room:

This area has been identified as a storeroom, to which the three vessels might bear witness (GdSc A,VI,6:331). It is also possible that this area was used for the storage of perishable goods. It included the only identifiable latrine in the house.


Garden m in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This garden (figure D.99) was to the west and aligned at right angles to the front hall axis. It was entered through the west side of room d and had a colonnaded ambulatory along the east and north sides. Room g' opened off its northeast corner, room n off its west side, and rooms o and p off its northwest corner. The ambulatory and west wall were decorated in the Third Style, consisting of a black socle zone with plants, a central zone of red fields with central aedicula and vignettes of cupids in the side fields, and a white upper zone with architectural elements and vases. The south wall had a high pink socle (height: 1.65 m) with white plaster above. Two columns in the east portico had the same plaster as the south wall, presumably indicating repair to this area. The southeast corner of the south wall of the garden area had some remains of older plaster that had been scored to take this new coarser plaster. The pavement of the ambulatories was in cocciopesto decorated with rows of white tesserae.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

At the time of excavation the lapilli in this garden reached a height of c. 1 to 1.5 m (GdSc A,VI,6:329). From the tile remains it was possible to restore the upper part of ambulatories completely, again exemplifying the attention paid to the reconstruction of the architecture and decoration rather than the distribution of the furnishings (Maiuri 1927:27).

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

This garden had a niche or shrine in the west wall, a marble puteal over the cistern in the northwest corner, a monopod marble table in the center, and a statue base. The only other finds were five door pivots and ceramic vases, some of which contained lime, conceivably for building or refurbishing the house or for fertilizing the garden.

Other finds were recorded from the vicinity of the garden, but their precise location is difficult to ascertain. They include a number of pivots and hinges that seem to have belonged to the doorways opening off the area. As well as one easily lost needle, these finds included a ring handle, two guardispigoli, three seemingly rustic vessels, a stone jug, and a ceramic lamp, possibly stored under the stairway in room p.

Interpretations of room:

Maiuri noted (1927:26﹣27) that the decoration in this garden area had been repaired in coarse plaster. He also argued (1927:27) that large roots on the south side and nails in the wall indicated that branches had formed a pergola over this area of the garden (Pompeii photo archive negative C/1373). The marble table found in the center of the garden has been called a gartibulum (Maiuri 1927:27). If the term gartibulum is indeed correct for such tables, then its location does not tally with that indicated by Varro (De ling. lat. 5, 125﹣27) and accepted by Dwyer (1982:114). Hence, such tables are either not gartibula, not used in Pompeii as in Rome, or as Varro commented, had gone out of fashion as front hall furnishing (Allison 1999b:61﹣62). The presence of the base of a statue suggests that either post-eruption intruders removed the statue itself, the occupants had shifted it to a safe place during the eruption, or it had been moved prior to the eruption.

Thus, garden furniture seems to have been restored to the garden area after the observed repair to the Third-Style decoration but when that decoration was in a coarse state and probably incomplete. This implies a further reorganization of the garden activity that postdated the initiation of repair to the Third-Style decoration.


Room g' in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This was a very small space in the northeast corner of garden m entered from the latter through its south side. The ceiling was vaulted, and the walls were covered with fine white unpainted plaster. The pavement was cocciopesto.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

This room had shelving on the north and west walls, but no finds were reported.

Interpretations of room:

The ceiling, wall plaster, and the shelving identify this room as a storage space (Maiuri 1927:27). The small size of the holes for the supports of the shelves (diameter: 40 to 70 mm) suggests that they had been lightweight and presumably for light domestic storage. The dearth of remains here but the good state of preservation of the room, however, points to this storeroom having been empty at the time of the eruption.


Room n in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This was a large room to the west of garden m. It was entered from the west end of the north ambulatory through a narrow doorway in the north end of the east wall. It also had a large window in the east wall overlooking the garden area. The walls were furbished with coarse plaster that might have been incomplete because a line had been incised in it at 1.2 m above the floor, possibly to take a high pink socle. The pavement was of cocciopesto.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

No finds were reported.

Interpretations of room:

This wall plaster suggests that this room had an informal function, at least in its last phase. This might indicate deterioration in living standards in what, from its dimensions, location, and outline, had presumably once been an entertainment area of the house (see Foss 1994:253).


Room o in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This relatively large room had two entranceways at either end of the south wall and onto the garden. It also had a doorway in the south end of the west wall leading to room p. The walls were covered in coarse gray plaster, but 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:

Maiuri (1927:27) identified this room as a simple storeroom providing a passageway to room p.


Room p in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

This room was in the northwest corner of the garden area but was only accessible through room o, through a narrow doorway in the south end of the east wall. The walls were finely plastered and probably once had painted decoration. There is no record or evidence of the pavement.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

This room had a wooden stair along the south wall, under which was found a collection of reportedly rustic vessels, including several amphorae.

Interpretations of room:

The stairway led to rooms above rooms o and p and possibly along the parapet of the garden. The walls of this stairway and the space under it were furbished with coarse plaster. The latter contained storage vessels, implying that if this room had once been finely decorated, it had been downgraded to a service room prior to the eruption.


Upper levels in Casa del Sacerdos Amandus

Description of room:

An upper story is evidenced from the balcony over the house entrance (Maiuri 1927:27﹣28), stairway ST from the front hall, the stairway in room p, and a parapet around two sides of the portico in garden m. The stairways from the front hall and garden areas indicate that at least part of this upper-story area, probably that to the south, was accessible from within this house.

Condition of volcanic deposit:

No stratigraphical information.

Summary of Finds and Fixtures Distribution:

Carbonized remains indicated the presence of a cupboard in the rooms above entranceway a (Spinazzola 1953, I:96, Fig. 113). Other finds in the upper levels of this area included a bronze ring and sheet glass, conceivably belonging to the same cupboard, a ceramic and an iron weight.

Interpretations of room:

According to Maiuri (1927:19), of the two stairways leading to the upper floor, one was for rooms at the front of the house facing the street and the other was for service rooms at the back of house. On the basis of the irregularity of the house plan and the proportions and decoration of room b, Maiuri concluded (1927:19) that this house had originally been grander and occupied the whole street front. He dated the major development of the upper story to the final period of the city (1927:28). Both areas are only accessible from inside the house and therefore may constitute part of the same dwelling. If Maiuri's dating is correct, then the rebuilding of the stairway above room b indicates further repair or a change of plan during that final period of occupancy.