Ercolano, Basilica Noniana
In view of a possible intervention to restructure part of the modern town in the area of Via Mare and the reorganization of the northern corner of the archaeological park, a feasibility study was undertaken which also included the excavations of the Basilica Noniana, which in the 1960s had brought to light the long side facing onto the upper Cardo III (south side). The study showed that there were many advantages to be gained from the complete excavation of the building which could help to resolve the serious problems linked to its preservation, due to the present state of the partial excavation and the instability of the section (so-called west scarp).
In 2009 work was undertaken in order to gain information useful for the drawing up of the project. It began with the cleaning of the entire area and the partial emptying of a number of Bourbon cuniculi in order to gaining information on the plan of the basilica, the level of preservation of the structures and decorative elements and in order to check for the presence of buildings abutting the long side of the basilica that was still buried (north side). The latter was of vital importance for the definition of the perimeter of the hypothetical excavations. Of particular interest was the emptying of several metres of a cuniculus running along the north perimeter wall of an apsidal room on the west side of the basilica. The north wall of this cuniculus was in fact formed by the wall of this room and still preserved its pictorial decoration with a rich IVth style architectural composition, whose focal point was constituted by an edicola framed by fluted Ionic columns. At the centre of the edicola was a painting of a sacred landscape.
The pictorial decoration originally rested on a high dado of marble crustae, removed in the Bourbon period. The securing of the plaster was extremely complex as it was on the point of collapse due to the lack of these marble slabs. The emptying of a cuniculus at circa 1.90 m above the ancient floor level of the Basilica Noniana was also of interest. After having cut through the northern perimeter wall of this building by the western corner, it continued outside of the latter. The aim of this intervention was to check on the presence of other buildings on the basilica’s north side. The excavation revealed the presence of another wall directly abutting that of the basilica. This belonged to a building of which three rectangular rooms, with opus signinum floors and simple white plaster wall facing, were partially brought to light thanks to the emptying of the cuniculus.
At the end of this investigation it can be stated that another building, of unknown size and function, abuts the north side of the basilica. The simple opus signinum paving and white-plastered walls of the identified rooms suggest that these were service rooms for a public building or servants quarters or workshops linked to a domus.
Citation: Maria Paola Guidobaldi , Domenico Camardo. 2011.