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Regio IV - Insula IV - Domus di Giove Fulminatore (IV,IV,3)

To the west of the Terme del Foro are two old houses (domus). The northernmost has been called House of Jupiter the Thunderer. It was excavated between 1923 and 1926, and the work was finished in 1940. Six phases have been recognized by Lorenzatti.

To the oldest phase (c. 150 - 50 BC) belong a few remains of opus quasi reticulatum. The function of this earliest building is unknown.

To the second phase, possibly from the Augustan period, belong many remains of opus reticulatum and latericium. A domus was built with an atrium. It was entered through a vestibule between two shops. Between the vestibule and the fauces is a travertine threshold for two doors. On the floor of the fauces is a black-and-white mosaic with an apotropaic phallus, to be looked at from the entrance, dated by Becatti to the second century AD. In front of the atrium is what may be called an anti-atrium.

In the atrium (13.55 x 9.00) is a marble impluvium. The rim is decorated with a mosaic of black triangles. On the floor of the atrium is a black-and-white mosaic. It is an atrium tuscanicum, i.e. the roof was supported by beams, not by pilasters or columns. Between the impluvium and the fauces is a well.

The atrium is flanked by cubicula (bedrooms) III, IV, VIII and IX. They were reached from the alae and the anti-atrium. In the door-openings are travertine thresholds with pivot holes. In the walls along the atrium are windows. In room IX is the lower part of a staircase (five travertine treads).

Room VI is a passage. Doors in the rear part (later blocked) led to rooms V and VII. The latter rooms also have wide doorways in the rear wall. The passage (later blocked) may have led to a peristylium, now occupied by the Terme Bizantine (IV,IV,8). Some reticulatum walls were found here. There seems to have been a large rectangular area flanked by long corridors or rows of rooms.

Possibly during the reign of Antoninus Pius many repairs took place in opus mixtum and reticulatum. Walls that had collapsed and subsided were rebuilt.

Some modifications in opus vittatum may be dated to the late third century AD. A wall now divided room VI in two parts. In the side facing the atrium are three niches, opposite the main entrance to the building. The central one is semicircular, the others are rectangular. In front of the central one is a podium. Partly in the niche and partly on top of the podium is a marble base for a statue. In one the niches are the remains of marble revetment, which is found on the walls of the room as well. Rooms V and VII could from now on no longer be reached from the domus.

Some later modifications in latericium and a raising with 0.30 centimeters cannot be dated. At the end of the fourth century or in the fifth the last modifications took place, in opus vittatum, only in the front part of the building. The level was raised 1.00-1.20 meter (this raising was removed in the 1920's). A raising to the same height is documented in the Terme del Foro, opposite the domus. In a corner a public latrine (Forica IV,IV,4) was installed. It is not clear whether the domus was now still in use.

In room VI A is a marble altar with the insription:


that is, dedicated to "Zeus descending in thunder and lightning". In the room is also a marble base or altar with a mutilated Greek inscription.

Plan of the two houses. After SO I.

Photographs and drawings

3D drawing of the remains of the house. Lorenzatti 1998, fig. 5.

View through the vestibule. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

The apotropaic phallus in the fauces. Photograph: Eric Taylor.

The dividing wall with niches in room VI.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

The altar dedicated to Zeus.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

The mutilated Greek inscription.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

[jthb - 26-Mar-2005]