Wednesday, 28 November 2012

First impressions: ROOM 13

House of Orpheus, room13's roof
Photo by V. Vitale, 2012

This little room has an access on space 16 and a large window on the garden. The room is very well preserved. The delicate decoration on the yellow and black background are still visible and the colours very bright. It is a shame that the room is now used as storage area. The plastic boxes where some finds are kept lean a bit carelessly against the frescoed wall. Moreover, these boxes are likely to become (if not already) the refuge of little animals (with all the unpleasant consequences).

This room was probably a bedroom, with a nice view on the garden (but not on the fresco, obviously).
The remains of a little roof above the window seems to be original. On the windowsill is displayed a stone ball. I do not know if it is ancient (maybe a relic of the Sulla’s civil war?) and if it has been actually found in the house.

The room is covered by a wooden roof reconstructed for display purposes. This  choice might have positively contributed to the good status of the frescoes.  I assume that the modern roof has been built according to the evidence of the ancient one. Even though the restoration can be considered a bit too invasive, I think it can prove its usefulness. According to the tourist I have interviewed and the literature about Pompeii, the absence of the roofs is one of the elements that make difficult (especially for a tourist) to see the Pompeian ruins as actual houses. 

House of Orpheus, threshold and floor
Photo by V. Vitale, 2012
Under this respect the site of Pompeii is quite different from the one in Herculaneum where roofs, doors and windows (often heavily restored) communicate the sense of domestic spaces that used to be lived by people.

The floor of this room shows a nice and well preserved mosaic in opus signinum and white tesserae. The geometric pattern can still be admired, but it has also been documented by Presuhn (who also published a copy of the room wall decorations).
The room has both a marble threshold that suggest the presence of a wooden door and a quite large window (for such a small room) with a pleasant view on the garden.

It is curious that the restored roof covers not only this room in the house of Orpheus but also the contiguous room that belongs to the House of the Scientists. Actually, this external room also shares an other wall with the House of Orpheus, exactly half of the renowned frescoed one. Does it mean that the two Houses used to be arranged differently? May have they been rearranged after the earthquake?

Presuhn's plan. The area in yellow highlights the
relationship between the House of Orpheus and
the House of the Scientists

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