II.8.6 House of the Garden of Hercules


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 II


Insula VIII


Garden Description

A large aedicula lararium on the east wall and a large triclinium (l. medius, 4.40 m.; l. imus 4.00; l. summus 3.80 m.; table between couches 1.00 x 1.67m.) were found in the large area attached to this humble house when excavation was started in 1953-1954. Human remains were uncovered with five gold coins, two gold rings, a strigil and seven medical instruments close to the -triclinium. Next to the shrine two terra-cotta votive offerings, a slender female winged figure (0.155 m. high; Pompeii inv. no. 10569) and a small draped figure with considerable red paint surviving on the drapery(figure (0.165 m. high; Pompeii inv. no. 10150) were found as well as a marble statuette of Hercules (ca. 0.57 high without base; Pompeii inv. no. 10138). South of the triclinium a doghouse had been built by mounting half of a dolium (0.70 x 0.50m.) on a masonry base 0.15 m. high. Further finds included a large terra-cotta funnel, but the function of this area could not be determined. Excavation by Jashemski in 1971-1972 revealed what appears to be a large commercial flower garden. Where the lapilli remained until the 1970s, the undamaged soil contours and root and stake cavities were well preserved. Circular watering depressions remained in one bed that held a small plant. Balloon photographs showed complicated bed arrangements and a path coming from the outside area to the middle of the garden where a left turn led to the triclinium and altar in front of the lararium. Fig.63, 17.7.73, Fig. 64, 8.33.73, Fig. 65, 21A.13.73 An extensive system of rain water collection and distribution had been built. Roof run off was collected in a large dolium on each side of the door and in a nearby pool. Additional water could be brought from outside sources and poured through an amphora tip in the east end of the north wall to fill a dolium](http://vocab.getty.edu/page/aat/300400601) imbedded in the northeast corner of the garden. The natural slope of the land was from north to south and the irrigation layout took advantage of this fact. When the dolium](http://vocab.getty.edu/page/aat/300400601) in the northeast corner overflowed the water ran down a channel along the east wall watering young trees planted in the channel until it fell into a second half dolium](http://vocab.getty.edu/page/aat/300400601) buried in the soil. This process would be repeated the length of the east wall and continued along the south wall. There were channels along the north and west walls and dividing all the beds in the interior of the garden. Eleven large tree root cavities were counted with dimensions of 30 cm. or more at ground level. One grew near the southwest corner of the shrine, three along the walls and seven scattered about the garden. Another huge, partially destroyed cavity about 2 m. could have been an olive tree that grew to the west of the cistern. Many other smaller tree root cavities were found, and carbonized cherries (Prunus cerasus L.) that were found here would identify at least some of these. Along the walls with the tree root cavities were terra-cotta pots similar to those found in the House of the Ship Europa (I.XV.1-3). There were well preserved vine root cavities and post cavities for the pergola over the triclinium. Most of the garden cavities that remained were for the stakes that supported the frames for the shade structures for young bedding plants. Parallel to the west wall, 3.30m away from it, a row of posts formed either a shed or an arbor with roofing support holes in the wall above. Two ancient gardening tools, a sarculum and a dolabella were found in the garden along with bones, teeth, perfume bottle fragments, and fragments of terra-cotta unguent containers. The house to this garden contained a large number of glass perfume bottles. The assessment of pollen and spores found here are shown in Jashemski (1979).

Pleiades ID




Excavation Dates

1953-1954, 1971-1972.


  • Jashemski, W. 1979. The Garden of Hercules at Pompeii (II.viii.6): The Discovery of a Commercial Flower Garden, American Journal of Archaeology, 83 (worldcat)
  • Jashemski, W. 1979. Gardens of Pompeii, vol.I, pp.279-288 and figs. 421-435 (worldcat)
  • Jashemski, W. 1993. Gardens of Pompeii, vol.II, pp.94-95 (worldcat)
  • Meyer, F.G. 1980. Carbonized food plants of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Villa at Torre Annunziata, p.432


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

Publication date

21 Apr 2021