I.5.2 Officina Coriarioum of M. Vesonius Primus


Italia (Pleiades)


Pompeii (Pleiades)

Location Description

An ancient city of Campania destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, Pompeii was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.


Region I


Insula V



Officina Coriariorum of M. Vesonius Primus (tannery) with a peristyles (Roman courtyards) garden and large open space to the rear.


Garden Description

A. This tannery was excavated in 1873-1874. The peristyle courtyard had a portico to the north and east supported by brick pillars which had been most likely been built when the original house was converted to a tannery. Against the west wall there was a masonry triclinium (l.medius 4.99 m.; l.summus and l.imus 4.96 m.; table, 1.78 x 0.93 m.). The top of the triclinium table held the famous mosaic of a skull (0.45 x 0.50 m. Mus. Naz. inv. no. 109 982;; Reusch no. 163). The mosaic representing the Epicurian philosophy features a large skull over a butterfly on a wheel representing the soul and time. On either side of the skull are the possessions of both the rich and poor with a plumb line hanging over the skull indicating the equalizing power of death. The northeastern part of the courtyard was a rectangle, the north side of which was formed by the three first intercolumniations counting from the northeast corner of the north portico, and the east side by the first two intercolumniations counting from the same corner. This area was paved with opus signinum. The little area around the triclinium between the paved area and the west wall was believed to be a garden according to Mau.

B. The south half of the insula was also excavated in 1873-74. It was accessed from the back door in the peristyle garden of the tannery by descending six steps. This was a large open area that had been cleared of previous structures. Formerly there had been five doors in the south wall leading to the pomerium but these were closed up. This area could have been used as a kitchen garden as suggested by Tatiana Warscher or for drying leather as suggested by Viola.


Excavated 1873-1874.


  • Brendel, O. 1934. “Untersuchungen zur Allegorie des pompejanischen Totenkopfmosaiks,” RM (1934), pp 157-179.
  • Fiorelli, G. 1875. Descrizione di Pompei, pp. 452-453. (worldcat), p. 452. (worldcat)
  • GiornSc, n.s., 3 (1874-1877), col. 93.
  • Jashemski, W.F. 1979. Garden of Pompeii: Herculaneum and the villas destroyed by Vesuvius, fig. 268 on p. 181 and p. 198. (worldcat)
  • Jashemski, W.F. 1993. Gardens of Pompeii: Herculaneum and the villas destroyed by Vesuvius. Vol. II, Appendices, p. 33. (worldcat)
  • Mau, BdI (1874), pp. 272-275.
  • Mau, A. 1907. Pompeii: It's life and art, pp. 398-399.
  • Niccolini, F. Le case ed i monumenti di Pompeii, Naples, Vol. II, p. 48 (mosaic).
  • Niccolini, F. Le case ed i monumenti di Pompeii, Naples, Vol. IV, pp. 1-2.
  • Sogliano, A. 1879. Le pitture murali campane scoverte negli anni 1867-79, cols. 9-10, 49 and pl. 2.
  • Soprano, P. 1950, 'I triclini all’aperto di Pompei', In Pompeiana, raccolta di studi per il secondo centenario degli scavi di Pompei, Napoli, Gaetano Macchiaroli, Editore, p. 294, no. 3.
  • Viola, L. 1879. Gli scavi di Pompei dal 1873 al 1878, p. 15
  • Warscher, T. 1937-1957. Codex Topographicus Pompeianus, plate 32

Pleiades ID





Wilhelmina Jashemski (https://lib.guides.umd.edu/c.php?g=326514&p=2193250)

Publication date

21 Apr 2021