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IX.7.19 Pompeii. Casa dello Specchio or House of the Mirror.

Excavated 1880.

 

Plan (Opens in separate window)

 

IX.7.19 Pompeii. December 2007. Looking east towards entrance doorway on Vicolo di Tesmo. According to Mau, the threshold or doorsteps of both doorways, IX.7.19 and IX.7.18 were missing when excavated. See Mau, BdI, 1883, (p.78).

IX.7.19 Pompeii. December 2007.

Looking east towards entrance doorway on Vicolo di Tesmo.

According to Mau, the threshold or doorsteps of both doorways, IX.7.19 and IX.7.18 were missing when excavated.

See Mau, BdI, 1883, (p.78).

 

IX.7.19 Pompeii. 1885. Painting of entrance doorway shortly after excavation. Study by Louis Hector Leroux for his painting “La pierre mystérieuse de Pompéi” (The Mysterious Stone of Pompeii). The painting has the inscription Rég (io) IX - Ins (ula) II - Via Quarta. This was in fact Regio IX .7.19. Now in the Musée de la Princerie, Verdun. Photo courtesy of Daniel Genot. The mysterious stone was a piece of dark-blue, or black glass, more than likely used as a mirror. The house was thus named the House of the Mirror. According to NSA, found on December 13th 1880 in the house of the 3rd door on the west side counting from the north-west of the insula, was a piece of glass. This was found on the right-hand side on entering the small atrium, discovered boxed in the wall, for use as a mirror. It was fixed to the wall with nails around its edge. See Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità, 1880, p.493. (on p.491, it is described as “a piece of glass on a black background”).

IX.7.19 Pompeii. 1885. Painting of entrance doorway shortly after excavation.

Study by Louis Hector Leroux for his painting “La pierre mystérieuse de Pompéi” (The Mysterious Stone of Pompeii).

The painting has the inscription Rég (io) IX - Ins (ula) II - Via Quarta. This was in fact Regio IX .7.19.

Now in the Musée de la Princerie, Verdun. Photo courtesy of Daniel Genot.

The mysterious stone was a piece of dark-blue, or black glass or obsidian, more than likely used as a mirror.

The house was thus named the House of the Mirror.

According to NSA, found on December 13th 1880 in the house of the 3rd door on the west side counting from the north-west of the insula, was a piece of glass.

This was found on the right-hand side on entering the small atrium, discovered boxed in the wall, for use as a mirror.

It was fixed to the wall with nails around its edge.

See Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità, 1880, p.493. (on p.491, it is described as “a piece of glass on a black background”).

 

IX.7.19 Pompeii. 1885 painting of entrance doorway shortly after excavation. Painting by Louis Hector Leroux, La Pierre mystérieuse de Pompéi, huile sur toile. Courtesy of Collection musée des Beaux-Arts, Dunkerque, © Emmanuel Watteau. Inventory number DBA. P. 492.

IX.7.19 Pompeii. 1885 painting of entrance doorway shortly after excavation.

Painting by Louis Hector Leroux, La Pierre mystérieuse de Pompéi, huile sur toile.

Courtesy of Collection musée des Beaux-Arts, Dunkerque, © Emmanuel Watteau.

Inventory number DBA. P. 492.

 

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005. Looking east from entrance doorway into room b, the atrium with doorway to room g, triclinium, ahead. According to Mau, this narrow atrium had an impluvium but was without a fauces, or entrance corridor. See Mau, BdI, 1883, (p.78)

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005.

Looking east from entrance doorway into room b, the atrium with doorway to room g, triclinium, ahead.

According to Mau, this narrow atrium had an impluvium but was without a fauces, or entrance corridor.

See Mau, BdI, 1883, (p.78)

 

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005. Room b, site of impluvium in atrium.  According to Mau, the flooring of the atrium was all of opus signinum (cocciopesto) or similar. The impluvium was also faced with the same flooring. The floor in the base of the impluvium was outlined with white stones in a pattern of lines. The middle of the impluvium was decorated with a rosette of six petals in a circle and square. See Mau, BdI, 1883, (p.78). See Bragantini, de Vos, Badoni, 1986. Pitture e Pavimenti di Pompei, Parte 3. Rome: ICCD. (p.502).

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005. Room b, site of impluvium in atrium. 

According to Mau, the flooring of the atrium was all of opus signinum (cocciopesto) or similar.

The impluvium was also faced with the same stone.

The floor in the base of the impluvium was outlined with white stones in a pattern of lines.

The middle of the impluvium was decorated with a rosette of six petals in a circle and square.

See Mau, BdI, 1883, (p.78)

See Bragantini, de Vos, Badoni, 1986. Pitture e Pavimenti di Pompei, Parte 3. Rome: ICCD. (p.502)

 

IX.7.19 Pompeii. December 2007. Looking east across room b, the atrium, with doorway to room a, cubiculum, on left. Also visible behind the room a on the left, was an ala, room c. This ala may have been used as the tablinum. According to Mau, when excavated the following paintings were found on the walls of these rooms.
Room b, the atrium: On the left wall between the doorway of room a, and room c, the ala – a peacock, in front of two pomegranate trees and a branch. (size: height 0.10m x length 0.33m). On the right wall in front of the door to room e, buried into the plaster and fixed with four iron nails, was a slab of dark-blue glass not regular in shape, that one could have believed had served as a mirror. (size: height 0.22m x length 0.135m) 
(According to NdS, 1880, p.491, “buried into the plaster was a slab of glass with a black background”). Room c, the ala: In the middle of the back (north) wall, - fish and shells in water (size: height 0.23m x length 0.31m (the right side was missing (half destroyed, according to Not.di Scavi, 1880, p.491). On the sides of the back (north) wall – medallions enclosed in garlands (size: 0.20) – on the left was the head of Diana crowned with leaves, with two javelins. She had dark hair with a narrow necklace around her neck and was wearing a red tunic buckled above both shoulders with a gold coloured buckle.
on the right was the head of Helios, with halo and blue rays, with a whip on the right shoulder. He had long blonde hair and was dressed the same as Diana. On the right (east) wall, the remains of a destroyed lararium painting was found. See Mau, BdI 1883, (p.79), and Sogliano, Not.diScavi, 1880, (p.491). According to Boyce, on the east wall of the left ala, a fragment of a lararium painting was seen at the time of excavation. The fragment  represented a single serpent moving amongst foliage. See Boyce G. K., 1937. Corpus of the Lararia of Pompeii. Rome: MAAR 14. (p.88, no.437) . See Fröhlich, T., 1991. Lararien und Fassadenbilder in den Vesuvstädten. Mainz: von Zabern. (p.112)

IX.7.19 Pompeii. December 2007.

Looking east across room b, the atrium, with doorway to room a, cubiculum, on left.

Also visible behind the room a on the left, was an ala, room c.

This ala may have been used as the tablinum.

 

According to Mau, when excavated the following paintings were found on the walls of these rooms.

Room b, the atrium:

On the left wall between the doorway of room a, and room c, the ala – a peacock, in front of two pomegranate trees and a branch. (size: height 0.10m x length 0.33m)

On the right wall in front of the door to room e, buried into the plaster and fixed with four iron nails, was a slab of dark-blue glass not regular in shape, that one could have believed had served as a mirror. (size: height 0.22m x length 0.135m)

(According to NdS, 1880, p.491, “buried into the plaster was a slab of glass with a black background”).

Room c, the ala:

In the middle of the back (north) wall, - fish and shells in water (size: height 0.23m x length 0.31m - the right side was missing (half destroyed, according to Not.di Scavi, 1880, p.491).

On the sides of the back (north) wall – medallions enclosed in garlands (size: 0.20) –

on the left was the head of Diana crowned with leaves, with two javelins. She had dark hair with a narrow necklace around her neck and was wearing a red tunic buckled above both shoulders with a gold coloured buckle.

on the right was the head of Helios, with halo and blue rays, with a whip on the right shoulder. He had long blonde hair and was dressed the same as Diana.

On the right (east) wall, the remains of a destroyed lararium painting was found.

See Mau, BdI 1883, (p.79), and Sogliano, Not.diScavi, 1880, (p.491).

According to Boyce, on the east wall of the left ala, a fragment of a lararium painting was seen at the time of excavation.

The fragment  represented a single serpent moving amongst foliage.

See Boyce G. K., 1937. Corpus of the Lararia of Pompeii. Rome: MAAR 14. (p.88, no.437) 

See Fröhlich, T., 1991. Lararien und Fassadenbilder in den Vesuvstädten. Mainz: von Zabern. (p.112)

 

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005. South-east corner of room a, cubiculum. According to Mau, room a, and room b, had walls painted with a simple decoration of the last style on a white background. Room a was called a cubiculum but the design on the flooring did not indicate the place of the bed. The flooring in this cubiculum had been made of a crushed lava stone outlined with white stones, the carpet design forming a net of octagons and squares. 
It was well conserved and so seemed not to have been very old when buried by the eruption. The wall decoration of the last, IV style, on a background of sea-green was conserved only in the upper part. On the lower part it had fallen and a decoration of the first style had reappeared on the street (west) wall. This showed a yellow lower band and traces of the peacock-blue/purple band protruding out that separated it from the coarse stucco of the rest of the wall.  On the other walls was a simple white stucco. All the antique stucco had been perforated to make the new stucco adhere to it. See Mau, BdI 1883, (p.80). See Bragantini, de Vos, Badoni, 1986. Pitture e Pavimenti di Pompei, Parte 3. Rome: ICCD. (p.502)

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005. South-east corner of room a, cubiculum.

According to Mau, room a, and room b, had walls painted with a simple decoration of the last style on a white background.

Room a was called a cubiculum but the design on the flooring did not indicate the place of the bed.

The flooring in this cubiculum had been made of a crushed lava stone outlined with white stones, the carpet design forming a net of octagons and squares.

It was well conserved and so seemed not to have been very old when buried by the eruption.

The wall decoration of the last, IV style, on a background of sea-green was conserved only in the upper part.

On the lower part it had fallen and a decoration of the first style had reappeared on the street (west) wall.

This showed a yellow lower band and traces of the peacock-blue/purple band protruding out that separated it from the coarse stucco of the rest of the wall.

On the other walls was a simple white stucco.

All the antique stucco had been perforated to make the new stucco adhere to it.

See Mau, BdI 1883, (p.80).

See Bragantini, de Vos, Badoni, 1986. Pitture e Pavimenti di Pompei, Parte 3. Rome: ICCD. (p.502)

 

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005.  Looking east to doorway to room g, triclinium in rear wall of atrium, in centre of photo.  The threshold in the doorway of the triclinium was made of marble. On the right of the photo are two doorways, the nearest leading into the room e, at the rear of room d, which is the shop at IX.7.18. The other doorway on the rear right leading to room f, a corridor leading to the rear of the house including kitchen and garden. According to Mau, a pile of material at the entrance of the corridor f, could have been the first step of a stairway to the upper rooms. 
Room i was the kitchen with the latrine.  The entrance doorway was very narrow and cut obliquely across the wall in the corner.  Near the south wall was the hearth, and the latrine.  Near the north wall was a large pilaster (1.15 x 1.07) composed of opera incerta (lava) and limestone cut into the form of bricks. This pilaster was joined with the east wall for an arch, on which was a narrow platform between the pilaster and the east and north walls. 
According to Boyce, a small room, room k, located between kitchen and garden on the south side of the house, was originally part of the garden. This small room had a door into the kitchen. Then the room was separated from the garden and the doorway to the kitchen was bricked-up. On the east wall of this new room was a lararium, with a Genius standing to the right of a tripod. On the other side of the tripod stood the tibicen. Below and to the right, ran a camillus. Below this were two serpents, gliding, one from each side, amongst plants towards an altar. Between this painting and the south-east corner of the room were painted, two pots, a large bottle, sausages, a calf’s head, ribs of pork on a spit, and a phallus. See Boyce G. K., 1937. Corpus of the Lararia of Pompeii. Rome: MAAR 14. (p.88, no.438) 
The following items were found on 28th December 1880, in “ultima camera interna a destra dell’atriolo” – the last internal room on the right from the atrium. (This would be the room k with the lararium painting.  
The remains of a small wooden box with bronze lock and decorations, was found together with the following items gathered together –
A bronze lamp (a lantern to a lamp with two handles made to look like branches surmounted by a shield – Naples    Archaeological Museum, inventory number: 118253
A terracotta cup with two handles - Naples Archaeological Museum, inventory number: 113025
A terracotta lamp with separate handle - Naples Archaeological Museum, inventory numbers: 117227, 117228
A glass bottle - Naples Archaeological Museum, inventory number: 114908
Also found were various bronze, terracotta, bone, iron and marble items, as well as 42 containers with various colours. see BdI 1883, (p. 82-3), and NSA 1880, (p.491 and p.493-4). Thanks to Raffaele Prisciandaro for his assistance in locating the inventory numbers of the items in the Naples Archaeological Museum.
According to NSA 1881, p.63, the following objects were found in the presence of scholars of the r. Istituto di belle arti di Napoli on 17th February 1881.  They were found in one of the internal rooms.
Bronze basin with damage in the middle, and two unsoldered handles that finished with the head of a sea-horse - Naples Archaeological Museum, inventory number 118197
Bronze tweezers or small pliers. Two bronze hinges. A small bronze coin.

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005.

Looking east to doorway to room g, triclinium in rear wall of atrium, in centre of photo.

The threshold in the doorway of the triclinium was made of marble.

On the right of the photo are two doorways, the nearest leading into the room e, at the rear of room d, which is the shop at IX.7.18.

The other doorway on the rear right leading to room f, a corridor leading to the rear of the house including kitchen and garden.

According to Mau, a pile of material at the entrance of the corridor f, could have been the first step of a stairway to the upper rooms.

 

Room i was the kitchen with the latrine.

The entrance doorway was very narrow and cut obliquely across the wall in the corner.

Near the south wall was the hearth, and the latrine.

Near the north wall was a large pilaster (1.15 x 1.07) composed of opera incerta (lava) and limestone cut into the form of bricks.

This pilaster was joined with the east wall for an arch, on which was a narrow platform between the pilaster and the east and north walls.

 

According to Boyce, a small room, room k, located between kitchen and garden on the south side of the house, was originally part of the garden.

This small room had a doorway into the kitchen.

Then the room was separated from the garden and the doorway to the kitchen was bricked-up.

On the east wall of this new room was a lararium, with a Genius standing to the right of a tripod.

On the other side of the tripod stood the tibicen. Below and to the right, ran a camillus.

Below this were two serpents, gliding, one from each side, amongst plants towards an altar.

Between this painting and the south-east corner of the room were painted, two pots, a large bottle, sausages, a calf’s head, ribs of pork on a spit, and a phallus.

See Boyce G. K., 1937. Corpus of the Lararia of Pompeii. Rome: MAAR 14. (p.88, no.438)

 

The following items were found on 28th December 1880, in “ultima camera interna a destra dell’atriolo” – the last internal room on the right from the atrium. (This would be the room k with the lararium painting. 

The remains of a small wooden box with bronze lock and decorations, was found together with the following items gathered together –

A bronze lamp (a lantern to a lamp with two handles made to look like branches surmounted by a shield – Naples    Archaeological Museum, inventory number: 118253

A terracotta cup with two handles - Naples Archaeological Museum, inventory number: 113025

A terracotta lamp with separate handle - Naples Archaeological Museum, inventory numbers: 117227, 117228

A glass bottle - Naples Archaeological Museum, inventory number: 114908

Also found were various bronze, terracotta, bone, iron and marble items, as well as 42 containers with various colours.

see Mau, BdI 1883, (p. 82-3), and Sogliano, NSA 1880, (p.491 and p.493-4).

Thanks to Raffaele Prisciandaro for his assistance in locating the inventory numbers of the items in the Naples Archaeological Museum.

 

According to NSA 1881, p.63, the following objects were found in the presence of scholars of the r. Istituto di belle arti di Napoli on 17th February 1881.

They were found in one of the internal rooms.

Bronze basin with damage in the middle, and two unsoldered handles that finished with the head of a sea-horse - Naples Archaeological Museum, inventory number 118197

Bronze tweezers or small pliers.

Two bronze hinges.     

A small bronze coin. 

 

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005. Looking west from room g, towards doorway leading into room b, the atrium, on right.

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005. Looking west from room g, towards doorway leading into room b, the atrium, on right.

According to Mau, the best conserved parts of the floor in room g, showed that the couches were for at least twelve persons. They had leaned against the rear wall, and against the rear right and rear left wall.

The decoration was the same as in the atrium, also with a white background, but more simple and without paintings.

The door closed from the internal part by half a beam, inserted in two holes in the doorpost, the one on the right a little higher than the other.

The doorway in the south wall, on the left, leads into room h, a cubiculum.

According to Mau, the cubiculum was not accessible other than from room g.

In this doorway there was no trace of either a threshold or hinges, and it seemed that the doorway had always remained open.

In the east wall, there was a small square window with an impression of a wooden window-frame.

The decoration, on white background and of the same style as that of rooms b and g, contained the following –

1.    Left (west) wall – (size: conserved height 1.0m x conserved length 0.64m) country scene on a white background, showing a rural shrine shaded by a sacred tree, surrounded by a yellow balustrade with a broken herm of Priapus and a thyrsus, leaning against it. There were also two other unknown figures

2.    Entrance (north) wall near the door, pendant to no.1. (size: height I.15m x length 0.76m) the other country scene showed the usual shrine shaded by a tree and in front of this above a pedestal was an image in bronze of a crowned Hercules, with his lion skin and his club on his left arm, and drinking cup in his outstretched right hand. In front of the image stood a man and a burning altar. At the back, there was a bridge with two goats on it.

3.    Entrance (north) wall, to the right of no.2: fragment, (size: height 0.11m x length 0.44m) – Fishes and shells.

4.    Left side of left (west) wall (size: height 0.175m x length 0.325) – A bird with some cherries, and above a shelf some other fruits, but only two were visible on the left, perhaps apples? (The rear part of the painting had vanished).

5.    Right side of left (west) wall, pendant to no.4, (hardly conserved), fruit in two places, at least another fruit but not distinguishable.

See Mau, BdI, 1883, (p.80-81).

 

According to Sogliano in NdS, the paintings found in room h, were in the most part destroyed when excavated. Two country scenes remained, one on the west wall which was damaged on the left side of it – see no.1 above, and the other country scene on the extreme west of the north wall  - see no.2 above.

See NdS, 1880, (p.491).

 

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005. Room g, remains of wall plaster in triclinium.

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005. Room g, remains of wall plaster in triclinium.

 

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005. Room g, east wall of triclinium.

IX.7.19 Pompeii. May 2005. Room g, east wall of triclinium.

 

IX.2 Pompeii. Vicolo di Tesmo, looking north with doorway to IX.7.19 and part of IX.7.18 (on right).

IX.2 Pompeii. Vicolo di Tesmo, looking north with doorway to IX.7.19 and part of IX.7.18 (on right).

 

 

 

Plan (Opens in separate window)