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Regio V - Insula II - Domus del Protiro (V,II,4-5)

The House of the Porch was installed in an older building in the late Severan period and the middle of the third century AD. Some alterations took place in the period 375-425 AD.

Click here to open a detailed plan of the house in a new window (from Heres 1982, fig. 96).

The house received its name from a marble porch in front of the entrance, consisting of columns supporting a tympanum. On the tympanum was an inscription, that unfortunately has been preserved only partially. It probably contained the name of the owner:

[---] X
VD [c. 12 letters missing] NGENTI
[---] I

Behind the porch is vestibule 1, flanked by secondary entrance 23. Behind the facade are shops with back-rooms (21-22 and 2-5). In room 6 is a staircase.

In the centre of the house is courtyard 32, with entrances to the north, east and south. On the west side is a double nymphaeum, facing west and east. It was decorated with marble. The west part consists of a large apse with a window in the centre, flanked by semicircular niches. In front is a basin. The east half has rectangular niches flanking the window. The latter niches are decorated with marble: two columns, supporting an architrave and a tympanum. In front is another long basin.

Below the courtyard and porticus 30 is an interesting underground complex. It can be reached along a staircase in porticus 30. Opposite the foot of the staircase is a semicircular niche. To the left is a room with a rectangular niche at one end, and a podium covered by a marble slab at the other. The niches suggest that this was a cult room rather than a cellar. To the right is a corridor leading to a well surrounded by three niches (for statues of the nymphs?). Opposite this well is another staircase, that originally led to the courtyard, but was blocked later.

Behind the courtyard is the main hall 13. In the entrance to the hall are two columns. On the floor and walls are remains of marble. From the decoration can be deduced that this hall, porticus 28, and rooms 11 and 12 were the representative part of the house. Rooms 14 and 15, and corridor 29 were domestic quarters. The rooms on both sides of the courtyard were bedrooms (cubicula). The servants' sleeping-quarters have to be looked for on the upper floor.

In room 28 statues of Diana and Apollo were found. In room 14 a statue was found of the protective deity of the house, a Genius with snake and cornucopiae. In a drainage channel a Christian glass vessel was found in fragments (see the drawing below for a more detailed description).

Plan of the house

Plan of the house. After SO I.
North is to the right.

Photographs and drawings

Reconstruction drawing of the house, seen from the north-west.
Boersma 1985, fig. 111.
In the lower left part is a 3D-view of the south part of the underground complex
(Bakker 1994, fig. 3).

The porch that gave the house its name, seen from the north-west.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Detail of the inscription on the porch.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

The courtyard seen from the south-east.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.

Hall 13, seen from the west.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

The floor of room 11, seen from the west.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Funeral inscription, reused as drainage lid in corridor 24.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.

Funeral inscription, reused in the floor of room 11.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.

Drawing of a glass cup, found in a drainage channel. Sixteen fragments of the cup were found, together with numerous other glass sherds. The cup or bowl was made of green, clear glass (diameter 0.18, depth 0.056). The figure of Christ (Christus Victor) was incised, with a nimbus, long hair, and wearing a mantle. He is carrying a long cross, with his monogram. In his other hand is an open book. Next to his head is another monogram (chi - rho). To his right is a palmtree, a reference to paradise. To his left is a basket with bread, a reference to the holy communion. The bowl was probably made at the end of the fourth century, during the reign of Theodosius. Floriani Squarciapino 1952, fig. 3.

[jthb - 10-Jan-2004]