The House of the Lararium was built in brick c. 120 AD, like the two previously discussed buildings (I,IX,1 and I,IX,2).
The ground floor is largely taken up by shops. These could be entered from the street and from a courtyard. Vestibules are present in the south and west facade. The lay-out has been compared to the oriental bazaar.
The courtyard has several noteworthy features. In the northwest part is a staircase. Somewhat to the right is a polychrome niche, called lararium by the excavators, i.e. a shrine of the household gods, the Lares Familiares. However, in this niche must have been one, fairly large statue of a deity. It is not an intimate shrine of the kind that is found so often in Pompeii. The niche could not be placed exactly opposite the southern entrance to the building, but it is as close to the axis as possible. It functions as a religious welcome to those who entered the shopping centre. A religious tie was created between those working in the building and their customers.
The vestibules and the courtyard had a black-and-white mosaic, later repaired with marble slabs. In front of the niche is a keyhole-shaped basin. In the northeast corner of the courtyard is a well. In the years 1802-1804 a marble well-head (puteal) was found on top (now in the Vatican).
On the rim is the inscription:
On the front is the inscription:
A well with the well-head was made after an admonition by Ceres and the Nymphs (presumably in a dream). It was financed by the presidents of the three subdivisions of the guild of the grain measurers (mensores frumentarii). It is difficult to imagine what the relation could have been between the presidents and the House of the Lararium. Presumably the well-head was re-used in the building. Originally it may have been in or near the guild-seat of the measurers (I,XIX,1-3), or on public ground. August 23 was a feast-day on which various deities were worshipped who protected against fires, such as Vulcanus and the Nymphs. Ceres is obviously related to the grain that was handled by the measurers.
Plan of the caseggiato. After SO I.
Drawing of the well-head.
Guattani 1805, p. XLVII.