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Regio V - Insula XI - Caseggiato del Temistocle (V,XI,2)

In this building a bust was found of the Greek fifth-century statesman Themistocles. The building was excavated during the 1938-1942 campaign. The north-west part was replaced by the Tempio Collegiale (V,XI,1) at the end of the second century, the north-east part by shops V,XI,3. To the east is the Magazzino Annonario (V,XI,4-5). To the west is an inner street, not a paved road. The building has a trapezoidal plan, resulting from the orientation of the streets in this part of Ostia. These streets led to the south-east, to a secondary city-gate at the south end of Via del Sabazeo. Some of these streets were blocked by the Terme del Nuotatore (V,X,3).

According to Hermansen the impact of the construction of the guild temple on the building can only be explained, if the guild that used the temple (the builders, fabri tignuarii) also owned these premises.

The west wing

The west part of the west wing consists of a row shops and an apartment, built in the period of Hadrian (opus mixtum). The shops (1-2, 4-7) are interconnected, indicating that the same kind of goods was sold here. The thickness of the load-bearing walls is 0.60 m., so there were at least two upper floors. At the south end is an apartment (8) with five rooms. The interior walls have disappeared, but the size of the rooms can be deduced from the floor mosaics (white, with black borders). In the late second or early third century AD a new facade was built, c. 1.50 m. further to the west. A staircase in the third shop from the north (3) was now abandoned. Against the facade of the apartment a south-north running staircase was set, that probably led to a balcony supported by the walls of the new facade.

The east part of the west wing is badly preserved. It may have been a working or storage area.

The east wing

The east wing consists of a row of four apartments. They were built during the reign of Hadrian. The northernmost apartment (19-21) was reduced in size after the construction of V,XI,3. The thickness of the load-bearing walls is only 0.45 m., so they probably had only one upper floor. Three of the apartments are medianum-apartments. The second one from the north will be described in more detail (see the plan to the right). In the centre of the west part is a vestibule, with a travertine drainage lid directly behind the door. To the east is the medianum (room 24). On the floor are small bricks in a herringbone pattern (opus spicatum). The floor and the lid indicate that the medianum did not have a roof. In the other rooms is a white mosaic floor with a black border along the walls. The vestibule is flanked by two small bedrooms (cubicula 23 and 25). At the north and south end are accentuated rooms (22 and 26). Room 22 is the exedra, the largest room (4.95 x 6.43). Wall-paintings in the apartments belong to the later second or third century. In front of the apartments is a narrow, unroofed alley (18). The preserved height of the west wall of the alley is c. 4 metres. It has two doors.

Plan of the building. After SO I.

Plan of an apartment
in the east half.
Hermansen 1982, fig. 11.

Photographs and drawings

Reconstruction drawing of the west wing (facade), seen from the south-west.
Note the south-north running staircase to the right, leading to the balcony.
Hermansen 1982, fig. 40.

The bust of Themistocles.
From Livius.Org, with permission.

The north-east part of the west wing, seen from the south.
At the far right is the high west wall of alley 18 between the two wings.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

A painting in room 23.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

A painting on the west wall of rooms 11-12.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

A painting on the west wall of rooms 11-12. SAOA neg. nr. R5695/12.

A painting in room 21. SAOA neg. nr. R5696/6.

A painting in room 23. SAOA neg. nr. B1133.

A painting in an unidentified room. SAOA neg. nr. B1134.

A painting in an unidentified room. SAOA neg. nr. B1135.
[jthb - 30-Mar-2009]