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Herculaneum. Villa dei Papiri or Villa of the Papyri or Villa dei Pisoni.

Part 2.  The lower levels. 

The complex   Atrium   Lower levels   Reconstructions   Getty Villa and the Jashemskis   Model   Monumental structure   Baths   House of the Dionysiac Reliefs and pavilion  Sculptures   Frescoes   Plan

On this page:   The lower levels    Lower level 1    Lower level 2

The lower levels

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. 2004. The levels of the villa with the atrium level roof at the top.
According to Guidobaldi and Esposito, on the basis of the structures unearthed so far, the Villa seems to have been much more complex and monumental than previously envisaged, with at least two floors, whose residential use is demonstrated, and a third one for which use as a residential area is probable but not attested.
The first lower level has a façade covered in smooth white plaster and is marked by large quadrangular windows.
Four of these windows also have splayed oculi above and there is a series of at least six rooms (I-VI) on this level.
During the 1996-8 excavation, a second lower level bow windowed structure, protruding in respect to the front of the basis villae, was discovered at the west end of the façade. 
There is then a grand pavilion with a large rectangular swimming pool that led directly to the beach through a small staircase that faded into and mingled with the natural rock.
See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 23,; pp. 33ff, fig. 23; p. 41-2, fig. 32, notes 62-3.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. 2004. The levels of the villa with the atrium level roof at the top.

According to Guidobaldi and Esposito, on the basis of the structures unearthed so far, the Villa seems to have been much more complex and monumental than previously envisaged, with at least two floors, whose residential use is demonstrated, and a third one for which use as a residential area is probable but not attested.

The first lower level has a façade covered in smooth white plaster and is marked by large quadrangular windows.

Four of these windows also have splayed oculi above and there is a series of at least six rooms (I-VI) on this level.

During the 1996-8 excavation, a second lower level bow windowed structure, protruding in respect to the front of the basis villae, was discovered at the west end of the façade.

There is then a grand pavilion with a large rectangular swimming pool that led directly to the beach through a small staircase that faded into and mingled with the natural rock.

See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 23; pp. 33ff, fig. 23; p. 41-2, fig. 32, notes 62-3.

 

First lower level

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. 2009. Room (I) antechamber and hall.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. 2009. Room (I) antechamber and hall.

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. South east part of excavated room (I) on lower level.
Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.
The room is rectangular (3.8m by 7.3m) and composed of two different spaces, an antechamber and a hall or alcove. Two windows opened at the west wall, the window from which the excavation started, and a second window which at the time of the eruption was closed and covered with painted plaster. Two openings are visible on the opposite east wall; they preserve burned wooden doorposts and architraves – probably belonging to windows shared with the rooms located at the back, that area not yet excavated. The actual door was located in the north-west corner of the room, which was therefore accessible from rooms located at the north part of the villa, not yet excavated.
See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 33-4, fig. 24.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. South east part of excavated room (I) on lower level.

Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.

The room is rectangular (3.8m by 7.3m) and composed of two different spaces, an antechamber and a hall or alcove. Two windows opened at the west wall, the window from which the excavation started, and a second window which at the time of the eruption was closed and covered with painted plaster. Two openings are visible on the opposite east wall; they preserve burned wooden doorposts and architraves – probably belonging to windows shared with the rooms located at the back, that area not yet excavated. The actual door was located in the north-west corner of the room, which was therefore accessible from rooms located at the north part of the villa, not yet excavated.

See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 33-4, fig. 24.

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Vaulted room (I) on lower terrace. Antechamber east wall.
Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.
The antechamber has a ribbed vaulted ceiling and the hall displays a rounded vault.
See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 35.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Vaulted room (I) on lower terrace. Antechamber east wall.

Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.

The antechamber has a ribbed vaulted ceiling and the hall displays a rounded vault.

See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 35.

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace. Vault decoration of the antechamber dated to a transition phase between third and fourth style.
Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.
See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 33ff, fig. 25 pl. 27.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace. Vault decoration of the antechamber dated to a transition phase between third and fourth style.

Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.

See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 33ff, fig. 25 pl. 27.

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace, antechamber east wall. Lunette decoration in fourth style. A tambourine and pan pipes hang from crossed vegetal thyrsi. A violet cloth hangs on the thyrsi forming oval areas with flying cupids depicted in the centre of each.
See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 37.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace, antechamber east wall. Lunette decoration in fourth style. A tambourine and pan pipes hang from crossed vegetal thyrsi. A violet cloth hangs on the thyrsi forming oval areas with flying cupids depicted in the centre of each.

See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 37.

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace. Hall with round vault and north south orientation.
Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace. Hall with round vault and north south orientation.

Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace. Upper south wall with a tambourine or rhyton and pan pipes hanging from crossed vegetal thyrsi.
Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.
See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 36.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace. Upper south wall with a tambourine or rhyton and pan pipes hanging from crossed vegetal thyrsi.

Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.

See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 36.

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace, lower south wall. The short walls like this one have three panels and the long walls have 5 panels. The original yellow background, visible here, has turned red because of the dehydration that the exceptional temperature of the eruption caused. 
The centre of this wall is decorated with a small villa scene and on either side are vignettes with flying cupids.
Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.
See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 35.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace, lower south wall. The short walls like this one have three panels and the long walls have 5 panels. The original yellow background, visible here, has turned red because of the dehydration that the exceptional temperature of the eruption caused.

The centre of this wall is decorated with a small villa scene and on either side are vignettes with flying cupids.

Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.

See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 35.

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace, lower east wall of hall. 
This wall has regained some of its painted plaster in the four minutes since the photo of the antechamber east wall shown above. 
Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.
According to Guidobaldi and Esposito, the stuccoes have been excavated thanks to the constant and essential support of the restorers, who isolated and recovered each single fragment and at the same time consolidated and cleaned the surface of the stuccoes and of the paintings that were progressively unearthed during the excavation of the vault and the walls.
See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 34 note 28.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace, lower east wall of hall.

This wall has regained some of its painted plaster in the four minutes since the photo of the antechamber east wall shown above.

Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.

According to Guidobaldi and Esposito, the stuccoes have been excavated thanks to the constant and essential support of the restorers, who isolated and recovered each single fragment and at the same time consolidated and cleaned the surface of the stuccoes and of the paintings that were progressively unearthed during the excavation of the vault and the walls.

See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 34 note 28.

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace, east side of vaulted stucco ceiling in second style.
Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace, east side of vaulted stucco ceiling in second style.

Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace, east side of vaulted stucco ceiling with frieze showing a pile of weapons. Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.
The weapons are represented with extreme accuracy in white stucco on a red background. 
The weapons are predominantly north European, but the are also Hellenistic, eastern and barbarian weapons. Defensive weapons include a breastplate with corset, two greaves, nine helmets and fourteen shields of different shapes and sizes including a rare figure of eight shield with two concavities. The shields have incised decorations realized with a stylus.
Offensive weapons include a two-edged axe, a gorytos (quiver) with a sheaf of arrows, two swords, a makhaira (curved sword) and three spears.
See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 38-9.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. July 2010. Room (I) on lower terrace, east side of vaulted stucco ceiling with frieze showing a pile of weapons. Photo courtesy of Michael Binns.

The weapons are represented with extreme accuracy in white stucco on a red background.

The weapons are predominantly north European, but the are also Hellenistic, eastern and barbarian weapons. Defensive weapons include a breastplate with corset, two greaves, nine helmets and fourteen shields of different shapes and sizes including a rare figure of eight shield with two concavities. The shields have incised decorations realized with a stylus.

Offensive weapons include a two-edged axe, a gorytos (quiver) with a sheaf of arrows, two swords, a makhaira (curved sword) and three spears.

See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 38-9.

 

Room (I) was still undergoing some works of restoration at the time of the eruption. The eastern half of the hall vault was completed whereas the western half was not. The weapons panel on the western side has only a spear in its top left corner. The same situation has also been noticed in the antechamber where the decoration of the vault is almost complete while the western half is still unfinished. The excavation has shown exceptional evidence that the painters were still working on the paintings at the time of the eruption. The remains of a wooden structure, which was probably a scaffolding, were recovered at the base of the walls.

See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 41-2, figs. 25 and 31.

 

Second lower level

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. 2004. The remains (left) of an apsidal/bow window on the second lower level.
The floor of first lower level of the basis villae is indicated by a string course on the façade of the Villa (height 24 cm; depth 26 cm), which suggests the presence of a further level. 
During the Infratecna Excavation (1996-8), a structure protruding in respect to the front of the basis villae was discovered at the west end of the façade. 
This apsidal or at least curvilinear avant-corps is marked by a series of large windows (1.75 m wide; 1.40 m high).
The avant-corps was therefore an imposing and airy 5.50 m high bow window structure. 
It was furnished with ten windows arranged on two levels, all of which were bolted at the time of the eruption. 
Inside the bay windows the space is still almost entirely filled up with volcanic material.
See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 41-2, fig. 32, notes 62-3.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. 2004. The remains (left) of an apsidal/bow window on the second lower level.

The floor of first lower level of the basis villae is indicated by a string course on the façade of the Villa (height 24 cm; depth 26 cm), which suggests the presence of a further level.

During the 1996-8 excavation a structure protruding in respect to the front of the basis villae was discovered at the west end of the façade.

This apsidal or at least curvilinear avant-corps is marked by a series of large windows (1.75 m wide; 1.40 m high).

The avant-corps was therefore an imposing and airy 5.50 m high bow window structure.

It was furnished with ten windows arranged on two levels, all of which were bolted at the time of the eruption.

Inside the bay windows the space is still almost entirely filled up with volcanic material.

See Esposito D. and Guidobaldi M., 2010. New Archaeological Research at the Villa of the Papyri, in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 41-2, fig. 32, notes 62-3.

 

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. Soon after 1999 excavations. 
The remains (left) of an apsidal/bow window on the second lower level.

Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum. Soon after 1999 excavations.

The remains (left) of an apsidal/bow window on the second lower level.

 

 

The complex   Atrium   Lower levels   Reconstructions   Getty Villa and the Jashemskis   Model   Monumental structure   Baths   House of the Dionysiac Reliefs and pavilion  Sculptures   Frescoes   Plan

On this page:   The lower levels    Lower level 1    Lower level 2