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Regio III - Insula XVII - Domus del Serapeo (III,XVII,3)

The House of the Serapeum (Hadrianic opus mixtum) was originally connected with the temple of Serapis to the north. In the building the members of a religious guild related to Serapis (cultores) may have met and dined.

From the Serapeum an antechamber (A; c. 9 x 5 metres) was reached through a doorway flanked by windows. At the south end of the antechamber is a passage with two brick piers and semicolumns, decorated with marble. This passage leads to a corridor (B), behind which is the main hall (C; c. 9 x 10 metres), with many doorways and windows. This hall had twice the height of the surrounding rooms. On the central part of the floor is a polychrome (Hadrianic) mosaic, consisting of 68 compartments, 14 of which have been preserved. In the compartments are birds, theatre-masks, plants, and vessels. Around the panels is a black-and-white geometric mosaic. From the pattern of the mosaic can be deduced, that the hall was used for banquets. To the west of the hall is a staircase.

In the late third or early fourth century the passage from the Serapeum was blocked. It was occupied by a number of niches and a semicircular basin. A few rooms were now added in front of the building, on the street to the east (Via del Serapide). One of these rooms contained the porch of a new entrance, of which column bases remain. Another room was heated. The building seems to have become a domus. The marble decoration belongs to this second period.

Plan of the house

Plan of the house. After SO I.

Photographs



The semicircular basin in room A, seen from the south-west (from room C).
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.



Room C, seen from the north. From SO IV, Tav. CIII.


Detail of the mosaic in Room C. From SO IV, Tav. CCXII.


Detail of the mosaic in Room C. From SO IV, Tav. CCXII.


Detail of the mosaic in Room C. From SO IV, Tav. CCXIII.


Detail of the mosaic in Room C. From SO IV, Tav. CCXIII.

[jthb - 23-Jan-2004]