Saturday 2 May 2009

Rooms above Porta Marina, response

The rooms seem to be two trapezoidal chambers I have marked A and B on the attached plan (north at top; from Richardson, L., Pompeii. An Architectural History, Baltimore 1998, p. 404) whose west wall is on the same alignment as the main external arch of the Porta Marina (not the footway arch which protrudes further west).

The problem with this plan is that it doesn't give any indication of terracing, which makes it rather confusing. But if you go to Google Earth you can see the modern roof area covering these two rooms immediately above (north) of the Porta Marina and it makes it clear these are the rooms marked on the plan. Or look at Google Maps:,14.483288&spn=0.000981,0.002403&z=19

What is not so clear is which house these rooms belong to. They could belong to the House of Umbricius Scaurus or to Insula Orientalis.1. They are on a lower level than the main floor of both houses.
However, if one examines the facade of the Porta Marina it does rather look as if quite a lot of this superstructure has been substantially reconstructed. I am wondering if these rooms as extant are in fact largely early modern, perhaps even preceding the main excavations, and built on Roman footings. The superstructure here is totally inconsistent with the very poor state of the House of Umbricius Scaurus immediately to the north.


Jo Berry said...

I agree with Guy about the possibility of modern reconstruction here. According to Pesando (Laterza Guide) the gate was excavated in 1862 - 3. The most definitely has been 'restoration', the question is just the degree of this. Incidentally, Pesando attributes the two rooms to the substructures of the House of Umbricius Scaurus - although as Guy says there is no real way of telling now.

Jo Berry said...

We did try to post a reply on the blog as a comment under your reply but it seems to have vanished into cyberspace! Perhaps we are not doing it correctly.

A very interesting answer.
L. Garcia y Garcia in his excellent book Danni di Guerra a Pompei (one of Jackie’s favourites) does refer to rebuilding in 1950, after the 1943 bombing in this area, and comments “hanno cambiato e stravolto in molti punti l’originario impiianto”.
We have found a reference in Liselotte Eschebach’s Pompeji 1993 book at VII.16.13 “nach S bis zu den Magazinen uber der Porta Marina”.
Not sure how to translate Magazinen. Not a shop, more a depot? We had a look in your book A Companion to Roman Britain to see if an armoury was possible but maybe we were grasping at straws.
We would appreciate any further ideas that you may have or anything you may find on your next trip. At the time we were really looking for the baths above but could not get to them.
In the meantime we plan to leave the pictures in VII.16.13 as they are.
Many thanks again,

Jackie and Bob
Posted on behalf of Jackie and Bob!

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