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Regio III - Insula IX - Domus dei Dioscuri (III,IX,1)

The House of the Dioscures was built in the south-east corner of the Garden Houses. To the opus mixtum from the second century AD walls in latericium and vittatum were added in the first quarter of the fifth century.

Click here to open a detailed plan of the house in a new window (from Heres 1982, fig. 84).

Room A, with a curved wall and a curved threshold is the main entrance. The next room is B, behind which is C, with in the back wall two rectangular niches flanking a semicircular niche. The niches are precisely opposite the main entrance and contained statues. Room D, next to the main entrance, may have been a shop. It was connected with the house through room E. The south-west part of the house is shielded by a wall, behind which is service corridor U. Rooms T and S, next to a staircase, may have been used for storage.

Corridor F and the former medianum G received light from the courtyard of the Garden Houses, but three windows in room G were blocked. In hall H an alcove was built, on the floor of which is a black-and-white mosaic with maeanders. In front of that is a polychrome mosaic with in the centre the two Dioscures, Castor and Pollux. They are surrounded by octagons with a beaker, fruit, kantharoi, vases and baskets.

Room I was the main hall (10.00 x 10.50), also with a polychrome mosaic. We see Venus Anadiomene in a shell supported by two tritons, surrounded by Nereids on sea monsters. At the north side is the inscription PLVRA FACIATIS MELIORA DEDICETIS ("That you may do more and dedicate better things!"). Parallels for the inscription have been found in North Africa.

The smaller rooms M and L both have an alcove. In the walls of the alcove in M are terracotta pipes for the heating of the room. The hot air came from a nearby private bath. Room M has a polychrome mosaic with octagons, borders, and stylized plants. In room L is a black-and-white geometric mosaic.

Along the west side are bathing rooms, that were reached from the north. In frigidarium O are two apsidal basins. Next to O is a small room with two windows. Room P was a caldarium, witness the raised floor and pipes in the wall. Room Q is a second caldarium, with a rectangular and an apsidal basin. All these bathing rooms were decorated with marble. The small corridor R has a hacked out niche in the back wall. To the north-west of the bathing rooms is a cistern.

Plan of the house

Plan of the house. After SO I.


The three niches in the back wall of room C, seen through the main entrance.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

One of the basins in room O. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

The mosaic of the Dioscures in hall H, seen from the north.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

The mosaic of the Dioscures in hall H, seen from the north.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Detail of the right Dioscure. It looks convincing, but the
upper part, including the face, is a modern restoration.
See ICCD photograph E24016. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Detail of the mosaic of the Dioscures.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Drawing of the mosaic with Venus Anadiomene in hall I.
Soprintendenza Arch. di Ostia, B 1028.

The mosaic of Venus Anadiomene in hall I.
David 2001, fig. 10.

Detail of Venus Anadiomene. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker..

The mosaic in hall I: Nereid on sea monster.
Dorigo 1971, plate 36.

[jthb - 19-May-2006]