House, Pompeii (Italy), 200 BCE

by Madeline Nemeth, '99

An early home of Pompeii consisted of a wide front entryway, an open-roofed central room (the atrium) with smaller rooms opening into it, and a garden at the rear. Designed with the warm Mediterranean summers in mind, typical homes had tiled floors and stuccoed exteriors. The atrium, probably the most famous room of the Pompeian house, was flanked by several small sleeping rooms and usually had a large opening toward which the roof sloped from all sides to allow water to drain into a shallow pool below.

In this model, the atrium is painted green; the bedrooms yellow. The tablinium, a large room typically used for dining, was located at the rear of the atrium (here, on the left), with one side opening into the atrium along its entire width and the other into the rear garden. The kitchen, which contained a hearth, cooking utensils and a shrine to the household gods, was placed where it would be most convenient for the residents (here, right rear). The use of the two front rooms was also determined by the inhabitants: the left front room was often a bath and the right a sitting room. Pompeii is very famous for both the extraordinary red tones that colored the clay-tiled roofs of its buildings and the intricately-patterned mosaics that decorated their grey-toned interior floors. The vibrant colors on the floors and walls of this model are characteristic of early Pompeian color schemes.

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