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House of the Faun at Pompeii

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Front Facade
Reconstructed Facade, House of the Faun (August Mau 1902)

Reconstructed Facade, House of the Faun (August Mau 1902)

August Mau 1902

The House of the Faun was the largest and most expensive residence in ancient Pompeii, and today it is the most visited of all the houses in the famous ruins of the ancient Roman city on Italy's western coast. The house was a residence for an elite family: takes up a whole city block, with an interior of some 3,000 square meters (nearly 32,300 square feet). Built in the late second century BC, the house is remarkable for the lavish mosaics which covered the floors, some of which are still in place, and some of which are on display at the National Museum of Naples.

Although scholars are somewhat divided about the exact dates, it is likely that the first construction of the House of the Faun as it is today was built about 180 BC. Some small changes were made over the next 250 years, but the house remained pretty much as it was constructed until August 24, 79 AD, when Vesuvius erupted, and the owners either fled the city, or died with the other residents of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The House of the Faun was nearly completely excavated by Italian archaeologist Carlo Bonucci between October 1831 and May 1832, which is in a way too bad--because modern techniques in archaeology could tell us quite a bit more than they could 175 years ago.

The image on this page is a reconstruction of the front facade--what you'd see from the main street entrance--and it was published by August Mau in 1902. The two main entrances are surrounded by four shops, perhaps rented out or managed by the owners of the House of the Faun.

Sources

For more on the archaeology of Pompeii, see Pompeii: Buried in Ashes.

Beard, Mary. 2008. The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

Christensen, Alexis. 2006. From palaces to Pompeii: The architectural and social context of Hellenistic floor mosaics in the House of the Faun. PhD dissertation, Department of Classics, Florida State University.

Mau, August. 1902. Pompeii, Its Life and Art. Translated by Francis Wiley Kelsey. The MacMillan Company.

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