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Regio V - Insula II - Domus della Fortuna Annonaria (V,II,8)

Click here to open a detailed plan of the house in a new window (from Heres 1982, fig. 97).

The House of the Fortuna Anonaria was entered from the north (to the right on the plans). The entrance was flanked by two columns, that supported a tympanum. One column, of red granite, has been preserved. Vestibule 1 is at a lower level than the street. It was reached along two treads. On the walls traces of red and yellow paint were found.

Courtyard 14 is surrounded on three sides by a porticus (11-13) with travertine columns. The columns were covered with plaster, and may have imitated fluted columns. At the north side the porticus is curved, and here the space between the two central columns is larger than that between the other columns. Thus a niche on a podium (opus vittatum), set against the south wall, could be seen from the entrance to the building. In the niche a statue of Juno or Ceres was found. It now contains a plaster cast of a statue of Diana that was found in pieces in room 15. In the courtyard was probably a little garden. It also contains a rectangular basin and a well. The well had a marble well-head, decorated with garlands and bucrania.

On the floor of the porticus 11-13 is a white mosaic. Against the south wall of 13 a base was set containing part of a travertine column. On top a statue was found of a woman sitting on a throne. In her left hand are a cornucopiae and an oar, her head is turreted. It has been thought that she represents the Fortuna Annonaria, i.e. the Fortuna of the grain-supply. It is more likely however that she is the personification of a city, perhaps Ostia.

To the west is hall 15. In the entrance are rectangular marble columns supporting three brick arches, below which are three marble thresholds. The west part of the room is an apse at a slightly higher level. In front of the apse may have been a stibadium, a semicircular dining couch. In the centre of the apse is a niche, that may have contained a statue of Ceres that was found in latrine 16 (a plaster cast is in the niche). In the south wall is a large nymphaeum, with two rectangular and two semicircular niches. Between the niches were marble columns, supporting architectural elements. In front of the niches is a basin, in which a head of Venus was found. The body of the statue (a kneeling Venus) was found on the street. A small statue of an Autumn Genius was also found in the basin. A statue of Athena and two male portraits from the years 245-250 AD were found in the room. The floor of the room is of opus sectile. The walls and the nymphaeum were lined with marble.

Hall 10 has a marble threshold, and marble on the floor and walls. In the south-west corner is a small bench. A door leads to room 9, with a wide window in the west wall. The walls were decorated with plaster, on the floor is a black-and-white mosaic, with depictions of Theseus and the robber Sinis, Theseus and the villain Prokrustes, the hunter Aktaion (who saw the bathing Diana and was turned into a deer), Ganymede (the young companion of Jupiter), a centaur, a tigers, a leopard, and the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus. Along the east wall is a wide band with a geometric motif. A bed may have been standing here. In the north wall are terracotta pipes for heating the room. The furnace was in room 8.

In rooms 2 and 3 remains were found of paintings imitating marble. In the north wall of room 3 is a small rectangular niche. In room 22 is a bench along the east wall, with marble on top. In the north-west corner of the building is a shop (18).

The building has a long building history. The well in the courtyard was sunk in the late first century BC. Most rooms as we see them today were built c. 150 AD (opus latericium), including the colonnade. There was a remodelling on a large scale during the first quarter of the fourth century. In room 15 the triple arcade, the nymphaeum, the apse (opus vittatum), and the marble decoration were added. The porch of the main entrance was built. Further alterations took place in the second half of the fourth century.

Plan of the house

Plan of the house.
From Becatti 1949, fig. 23.
North is to the right.

Photographs and drawings

Reconstruction drawing of the house, seen from the south-east.
From Boersma 1985, fig. 153.

View from the street through the main entrance. In the background is the niche in courtyard 14.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Detail of the niche in courtyard 14.
Photograph: Laura Maish-Bill Storage.

The statue (personification of Ostia?) in porticus 13.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Room 15 seen from the north-west. The nymphaeum is to the right.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

The latrine in room 16.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

The mosaic in room 9.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

The mosaic in room 9: a centaur.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.

The mosaic in room 9: the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.

The mosaic in room 9: a tiger.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.

The mosaic in room 9: a leopard.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.

The mosaic in room 9: Aktaion-deer.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.

The mosaic in room 9: Theseus, with an axe, fighting against the villain Sinis.
Two fig-trees are depicted, that Sinis used for torturing people.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.

[jthb - 9-Jan-2004]