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.
A. To the west of the Great Palaestra there was a large garden which was partially excavated in 1954-1956. A low masonry wall with planting spaces in the top enclosed an elaborate masonry triclinium (l. medius, 4.45 m.; l. imus 4.20; l. summus 3.55 m.) with a table 0.65 x 0.75 m.) on the south, west and north sides. This was shaded by a pergolas supported by four massive columns finished with stucco. Two elaborate mosaic fountains faced each other in front of the triclinium. Both fountains were an arched niche set into a rectangular façade surrounded by a pediment with a tiny arched niche in the center of the back which spewed water into the pool below. The bronze jet survived in the north fountain. Close to identical mosaics on both fountains features a panel with two fish and two ducks on the lower drum, and garden paintings on the on the east and west sides of the fountains as well as on the ends of the lectus imus and the lectus summus. Each fountain had a water reservoir built on the top with steps for access. The south reservoir was 0.63m x 1.06m, 0.45m deep and the north one was 1.10m x 1.04 m, 0.45m deep. The lead supply pipe for the north reservoir was found intact, and Dr. De Caro surmised that these reservoirs were provisional prior to the completion of the aqueduct in this area. The paintings on these two elaborate mosaic fountains were quite faded but the details that could be discerned included a yellow-orange lattice fence at the bottom of each with a fountain painted in the center of each panel surrounded by flowering shrubs, trees and birds (Jashemski, Gardens, vol. 1, fig. 261 on p.176). The east sides of the mosaic fountains were visible from the entrance from the Great Palaestra. The east side of the south mosaic had a bowl–shaped fountain with a square rim with two pigeons sitting on the rim, the one on the right drinking. A date palm stands behind this fountain with three clusters of ripe fruit. One shrub on the right appears to be an oleander with red blooms and a small brown bird perched in the branches, but the remaining plants are too faint to be identified. The fountain painted on the east side of the north mosaic fountain is footed and crater-shaped with two handles. What appear to be two herons perch on the fence facing the fountain on either side, a blue one on the left and a white one on the right. The shrubs in back have the foliage of oleanders with two small birds flying about. From the triclinium the paintings on the west side of the mosaic fountains could be enjoyed. The west side of the north mosaic fountain had another crater-shaped, two handled fountain with a low base and a black bird sitting on the fence to the right. There are traces of a date palm behind the fountain and the rest of the foliage is badly faded but there appears to be some oleanders included in the painting. The west side of the south mosaic fountain had an image of an egg-shaped, footed fountain with a golden color and some detailing to suggest that it may represent a bronze fountain. To the top of the left there remains the crown of a palm tree with a small sparrow-like bird, and although most of the plaster on the right side has fallen there is enough evidence to surmise another palm tree could have been painted here along with some oleanders.
Jashemski examined this garden in 1971 and found a series of cavities along the north wall and close to a complete planting pot (13cm high, 5cm diameter at the base, one hole in the bottom and three on the sides). The number of root cavities in the interior of the garden indicated that the triclinium was likely set in a vineyard with the usual number of trees but any evidence of the planting plan had been destroyed by the excavation truck traffic. There was a masonry altar opposite the triclinium near the west wall and a masonry pool in the northwest corner of the garden. The north couch of the triclinium had a garden painting on the east side showing a footed, bowl-shaped fountain centered behind a brown lattice fence. Two birds perch on the fountain but the foliage of the surrounding bushes is too damaged to identify. The south couch was decorated with a similar fence and some bushes. The serving table has traces of a peacock and flowering plants while the niches on the inside of the triclinium couches have some very well preserved garlands hanging between them. The low wall that enclosed the triclinium on the north had a section that survived with beautiful grape vines heavy with large ripe fruit clusters.
B. This vineyard section of the property was excavated in 1984 by Dr. De Caro. A small peristyle garden was enclosed on the east and south by a three column portico with a pilaster on the southwest corner. A low wall joined the pilaster and the west column on the south side with a terracotta puteal incorporated into it. The north and east sides of the garden had a gutter. The south part of this vineyard had a small house with a garden painting on the west wall. The excavators found the painting to be badly damaged but a section showing a lattice fence 0.68m high with leaves and flowers behind remained on the right two-thirds of the building. All of the painting above the fence had been lost. A huge lararium was built against the north portion of the wall which partially covered the image of a Frejus type statuette of Venus 0.87m high. An entrance from the east portico led directly to the vineyard which had been in production at the time of the eruption. At the front of the house on the west end a treading floor for the grapes had been built. The floor was raised, enclosed by a low wall 18 cm high, and paved with opus signinum. The juice would run into a pair of dolium buried in the soil at the east edge of the floor.
Eastern part first excavated 1939 and then 1954 to 1955.
- Jashemski, W. 1979. The Gardens of Pompeii, vol.I, pp.176-177 and fig. 261 on p.176 (worldcat)
- Jashemski, W. 1993. The Gardens of Pompeii, vol.II, pp.97-98, 331-333 (worldcat)
- Maiuri, A. Pompeii, p.84: “triclinium flanked by two mosaic polychrome water lilies” (sic) (worldcat)
- Neuerburg, N. 1965. L’architettura delle fontane e dei ninfei nell’Italia antica, pp.120-121, no.22 (worldcat)
- Bragantini, I. et al., 1981. Pitture e pavimenti di Pompei, vol.I, pp.243-244 (worldcat)
- Sear, F. B. 1977. Roman Wall and Vault Mosaics, RM, Supp.23 pp.76-77, no.37 (worldcat)
Wilhelmina Jashemski (https://lib.guides.umd.edu/c.php?g=326514&p=2193250)
21 Apr 2021