Mosaics were another means of embellishing walls and floors. Tiny cubes (tesserae) of colored stone, ceramic tile, shells, glass or even gems were cemented into patterns ranging from simple geometrics to incredibly detailed pictures of plants, animals, mythological figures, deities and battles. Unlike painted frescos - which fade over time - most mosaic material retains its color so these works of art are as vivid today as they were two thousand years ago! Still, they're very fragile and many of the most intricate compositions have been moved to the National Museum of Naples because of displaced or loosening tesserae and naughty persons prying up pieces for souvenirs.
This odd-looking slab in an alcove of the Forum is a mensa ponderaria: table of measures. The graduated sizes of depressions were used as the official units of measure by which goods were sold - assuring equitable competition among merchants and a fair deal for the customer. There are holes in the bottom of the "bowls" through which the product was drained after measuring. This particular table dates to before the Roman era and the original bowl sizes were altered to conform to later Augustan standards.
Pompeians believed that gods called Lares watched over their homes and businesses. Shrines to these deities could be located throughout the house but one was always near the hearth and could take three different forms: a niche containing statuary, a miniature temple, or painted fresco. Lares were usually illustrated as a pair of young dancers carrying drinking horns, wine buckets, sheaves of corn, horns-of-plenty or platters. Along with the lares, usually in the center of a lararium, was an image of the genuis - the spirit of the male head of the household - which was venerated as protector of the family. Representations of serpents - protective spirits and symbols of peace and prosperity - were also common as were those of additional gods.
In the first picture is a frescoed laramium with genius (center), lares (flanking) two other gods (outer figures) and serpents on the back wall of a shop. In the second picture is a temple-style lararium, or aedicula, on the back wall of this villa's peristyle.
Anyway, our first time to Pompeii... the story goes something like this: After waking up and having what would become our typical breakfast of packaged breads, clementines, fatty milk, and more dairy (cheese, yogurt, and chocolate) during our stay in the apartment - we made our way to the Circumvesuvania train and purchased our tickets to Pompeii (or Pompei in Italiano). From Sant'Agnello, the ride to Pompei-Scavi was about 30 minutes one way.
Once we got to Pompeii (exit Pompeii-Scavi), we decided to purchase the Campania ArteCard (CAC) instead of the single use admission. By purchasing the CAC (we bought the 3 day pass), my sister and I saved some money bacaused we went to several more places than we originally would have without the card. Our CAC helped offset the transportation and admission costs, but mostly transporation costs, especially after visiting museums and since we were not based in Naples. That being said, I think Pompeii was one of my favorite places we visitited.
It's just amazing to think of all the history there and that there are still remnants of that history.
You just have to walk around - I would recommend getting lost there - but if you don't want to, there are tour guides, walking tours, and an audio guide. We used our Rick Steves guide book and the pamphelt at the information desk, which were good enough for us. Then we started walking around. I can imagine how in the summer it can be extremely busy -- even in January, there were more people than I had expected (I had read online how "dead" it was during winter, but not really, I think those days are truly gone).
In the area on the west side of Pompeii, near the cafeteria is an area where they have laced stacks of jars, vases and other implements from the time of Pompeii. There are several plaster replicas of people who died and were covered by the ash. When Pompeii was rediscovered they found holes in the ash where people had died and their bodies were decayed. The scientists would blow plaster into the holes and let it dry overnight. Then they would removed the ash around the holes to discover these "human" statues.
If you look closely you can see the fabric lines on his stockings, and on some of them you can see belts and jewelry.
There is a dog statue which has an interesting dog collar.
The Roman's built ceremonial arches to comemorate awespicious events or people. The arch of on the West side of the Temple of Jupiter is dedicated to Drusus, the conqueror of Germania, and the arch on the Eastern side is dedicated to Tiberius, second Emperor of Rome.
Vesuvius didn't make ALL of the mess. Earthquakes were common in this volcanically unstable region and Pompeii had seen heavy damage in a very large, documented episode in AD 62 or 63. Larger public structures were the most affected (probably due to the expanse of roofing over large, open spaces) and extensive rebuilding was still underway when the mountain erupted 17 years later. Many of the religious buildings - such as the Temples of Apollo and Jupiter - were in various stages of reconstruction, and the water supply system was completely out of working order.
There are numerous guided tours of Pompeii, in every major language. The tours cover different parts of the old city and aspects of life there.
Some of the most interesting sites are of the old villas of the Roman inhabitants. The House of Vetti provides an intimate portrait of life in this city thousands of years ago.
The most poignant sight in Pompeii is that of the plaster casts made of the victims. The volcanic ash covered their bodies, which later decomposed. Archeologists found the hollowed-out cavities within the rock, and filled them with plaster to create these casts. They depict the unfortunate victims in the exact positions where they died. They are displayed in the small museums around the city.
Porta Nocera (in English, Nocera Gate) is located in the southeastern sector of the town and it was built in the fourth century B.C. during the Samnite time. It is called Nocera because it stands at the beginning of the road leading to the city with the same name. It has got a single barrel-vaulted room with two bastions at either end to protect the entrance. It is built with blocks of limestone.
Walking along Via dell'Abbondanza you can see on yuor left the Officina di Verecundus (in English, Shop of Verecundus) where cloths, wool suits and objects were manufactured. To the entry you can see four paintings: two represent the protecting divinities of the shop (Mercury and Venus) on a quadriga thrown by four elephants; the others two show the laboratories of the weavers in full activity.
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