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Regio I - Insula II - Caseggiato del Termopolio (I,II,5)

The House of the Bar was investigated in the years 1802-1804, to which some graffiti and a drawing of a man with a cylindrical hat and long hair testify. It was re-excavated by Paribeni and Calza during the First World War. It was built in the Trajanic-Hadrianic period (opus mixtum).

The north facade was decorated by a balcony, supported by arches resting on large travertine consoles. Four windows and a doorway open onto the balcony. The parapet has not been preserved. The main entrance of the building was corridor 3, with a barrel vault. To the west are shops 1 and 2, to the east is the external staircase 4. There is an internal staircase in room 11. The entrance corridor led to courtyard 10. To the west are rooms 8 and 9, to the east rooms 12, 14, 17 and 18. Some of these rooms have thresholds for doors, others have shop-thresholds. The rooms apparently had a commercial function, that may have varied in the course of time. Four doors in the east wall of room 8 suggest the presence of (wooden?) partition walls. In the back wall of this room is a wall-niche. Most of the dividing walls of the rooms to the east are secondary. In the south wall of the corridor to the south of room 9 is a floor-niche. Along the Decumanus is a row of shops (20-25).

In the east half of the building is another courtyard, nr. 13. It is decorated by a marble basin on a foot. In the centre of the floor a square marble basin was set, with a lead pipe for a vertical water jet. Another large basin is in the north-west part. Along the east wall is a bench, where visitors of a bar to the north could sit down. A staircase on the west side leads to a small underground room. In the third century the staircase was covered by a roof (opus vittatum). In the east wall of the stairwell is a window, on the inside paintings have been preserved, showing vegetation and birds. The roof of the underground room has a hole providing light and was finished with terracotta discs. Opposite the entrance is a wall-niche with an elaborate shelf. The room, with a surface of c. two square metres, is too small to have been a cellar for the cold storage of foodstuffs, as some maintain. It was a cult-room.

To the north of the courtyard a large bar was installed, accessible from Via di Diana. In front of rooms 5, 6 and 7 supporting walls were built below the travertine consoles on which the balcony rests (opus vittatum). In the sides of these walls, flanking the entrances, are benches. Above the benches are good quality paintings: architectural motifs and a human figure on a white background (later third century); a painting imitating marble (fourth century). Between the benches flanking the entrance to room 6 is a black-and-white geometric mosaic. Behind the mosaic is an L-shaped bar counter, with a water basin in the lower part of both sides. A mortar that was found in the room has now been fastened on top. To the east of the counter are three stepped shelves.

The marble decoration of the counter is reused material, including an inscription mentioning C. Fulvius Plautianus, a leading figure in the Severan period. He became father-in-law of Caracalla, who married his daughter Fulvia Plautilla in 202 AD. Conflicts with Caracalla and Iulia Domna, the mother of Caracalla, brought him down. Caracalla ordered his execution in 205 AD, and Plautianus received a damnatio memoriae. As a result the inscription was erased, but not thoroughly; the excavators could still read the words. In the left part of the inscription we read the name of Plautianus' son, Plautus Hortensianus. In the lost right part may well have been the name of his daughter. Son and daughter were exiled in 205, and killed c. 212 AD.

A marble construction was set against the central part of the east wall: a side-table, below which is one shelf and above which are three stepped shelves. Above the construction is a painting in which food and perhaps other objects related to the bar are depicted. The precise identification of the objects remains difficult. From left to right we may see: green olives; a turnip; eggs or peaches in a glass with water; two red cheese or watermelons or cymbals hung from a nail.

In front of the east wall of room 5 a stove for heating water or for cooking was found. Near the west wall is a buried storage jar (dolium defossum), that once contained wine or olive oil. Room 7 may also have belonged to the bar. The floor is of basalt blocks, and this room may therefore have been a stable in the final phase. Remains of a furnace were found, that could not be preserved by the excavators. Among the finds from the room is a metal slave collar, that was worn by a runaway slave. It carries the inscription:


"Hold me so that I do not run away; I am a runaway slave". Numerous slave collars have been found in Rome. In the Notizie degli Scavi 1941 (312-313, G. Annibaldi) a collar with the following inscription is described:


"Hold me because I am on the run, and take me back to my master, the most illustrious man Cetegus, who lives near the Market of Livia, in the third region" (to the east of S. Maria Maggiore).

Two rooms of the first floor have been preserved above corridor 3. Here a black-and-white geometric mosaic and a small basin with opus signinum were found.

Two rooms to the north-west of the building, behind the porticus to the east of the Capitolium, have been assigned the number I,II,7.

Plan of the building. After SO I.

3D-view of the cult room, from the SE.
From Bakker 1994, fig. 11.

The inscription mentioning Plautianus and
his son. From Calza 1915, fig. on p. 29.

Photographs and drawings

The north facade shortly after the final excavation,
seen from the north-west. From Gismondi 1923, fig. 34.

The north facade as it appears today, seen from the north-west.
Photograph: Melissa Sellers.

Reconstruction of the north facade, seen from the north-west, by Italo Gismondi.
From Gismondi 1923, fig. 33.

Room 8, seen from the south-east. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Courtyard 13, seen from the south.
Photograph: Bill Storage.

The bar counter in room 6, seen from Via di Diana. Photograph: Bill Storage.

The bar counter in room 6, seen from Via di Diana. Photograph: Bill Storage.

The bar counter in room 6, seen from the interior. Photograph: Bill Storage.

The fourth century painting in front of room 6.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

The third century painting in front of room 5.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Room 6 (left) and room 5, from the north. Note the dolium and the stove (back, left) in room 5.
Photograph: Bill Storage.

The table and shelves set against the central part
of the east wall of room 6. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Detail of the painting on the east wall of room 6. Photograph: Bill Storage.

The slave collar from room 7. From Paribeni 1916, fig. 7.

[jthb - 27-Jun-2004]