The House of the Pantomime Apolaustus and the House of the Wooden Balcony were originally one complex, dated to c. 120 AD. In the south-east part a nymphaeum was installed in the first quarter of the fourth century. In the nymphaeum an inscription was reused mentioning the pantomime Apolaustus, a freedman of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. He gave his name to the south part of the building, a separate unit from an unknown point in time. The north part of the building was named after a wooden balcony that adorned the facade. The complex was excavated by Paribeni during the First World War, but had already been searched in the 18th or 19th century.
As to the original masonry, all outer walls and those of courtyard 27 are of opus latericium, for the remainder opus mixtum was used. A sidewalk ran only along the north facade. On the facade are traces of thin plaster with traces of red paint. Remains of thin and thick plaster are found inside. Beamholes for a ceiling are found at 2.75/3.00 (bottom and top respectively) from the present floor level. The total area is roughly 730 square metres.
Along the Decumanus Maximus is porticus 20. To the east is Nymphaeum I,II,1 (room 21). Rooms 22 and 23 may have been shops. In the north-east corner of 22 are remains of a staircase, accessible from Via dell'Ara dei Lari. To the west is corridor 24, with a threshold for one door in the south entrance. Room 25 has a secondary north wall in latericium, and secondary masonry in the central part (latericium, rubble, vittatum of very bad quality). It has a floor of basalt blocks. Room 26 may have been another shop. There is a well in the north-east corner.
The building is arranged around the central courtyard 27. There are remains of a staircase with travertine steps set against the east wall. There is a threshold for two doors in the passage to Piazza dei Lari. A travertine staircase and a basin were set against the west wall. In the south-west corner is a brick well with a tufa rim. Next to the well are three fragments of the upper part of millstones (catilli), one with part of the contraption into which the horizontal beam for rotating the millstone was inserted. The courtyard had a floor of basalt blocks.
Rooms 28, 29, 45, 38, 41, and 42 were shops. The shop-entrances were blocked or narrowed with vittatum, small tufa blocks and latericium. The rooms have a floor of basalt blocks. In the south-west corner of 28 lie the remains of a latrine: next to a hole in the wall is a square travertine seat of a latrine, with an opening shaped like a keyhole. In the north-west corner was a small basin. In the south-east part of shop 38 is a staircase, accessible from Piazza dei Lari. In room 41 are fragments of various objects, some of which may have been part of machines. The wall between rooms 41 and 42 was rebuilt. Paribeni has noted that the level of the first floor was now changed, because there are no beamholes in the new wall at the height of the old beamholes. At the level of the old holes a painting was placed in room 42, depicting a cantharus and vegetative ornaments. Corridor 39 was reached from Via di Diana. In the doorway is a threshold for two doors.
Room 40 is a second courtyard. In the north-west corner lies a damaged, round, low object of volcanic stone, perhaps part of the lower part of a millstone (meta). On the floor are basalt blocks. In room 44 a large oven was installed. The low podium (h. c. 0.50?) was made of latericium, set against the mixtum. During the excavation the lower part of the superstructure was found, a ring made of large tufa blocks (diam. of cupola, outside meas., c. 5.00 x 5.20). The floor of the oven was made of two layers of brick, with sand in between. The oven opened towards the east, and part of the brick arch of the opening was found. In a collapsed part of this arch brick stamps were found from the period of Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius (one from the years 125-134 AD, 26 from 161-176 AD). The north wall of this room (modern mixtum) is very thick (0.70 - 0.75; the av. th. of the primary walls is 0.51). In the south-east corner the wall is thick as well. High up in this corner the lower part of a chimney may be preserved (a deep hole, starting at h. 2.55, w. 0.40).
The floors of basalt blocks, basins, remains of milling machinery and the oven leave no doubt that a bakery was installed in the complex. It was built however as a group of shops around a courtyard (room 27 and the south part of room 40). From the width of the doorways can be deduced that customers did not access the shops from the courtyard. The characteristic shop-entrances, with mezzanine-windows above, were along the north, east and perhaps south facade. The bakery was installed later, possibly during the reign of Marcus, as is suggested by the brick stamps found amongst the ruins of the oven.
Plan of the building. After SO I.
Click on a coloured circle on the plan below to see a photograph. Green circles indicate that a photograph is available of a room or a detail of a room. Yellow circles indicate that a photograph is available of several rooms. Rooms with floors of basalt blocks are indicated by the letter B in a square.