Pompeii: ancient Roman brothel restored. Roman plants

Lupanare picture

From British daily The Guardian:

Up Pompeii – ancient brothel restored

John Hooper in Rome

Thursday October 26, 2006

The “wolves’ lair” – ancient Pompeii‘s biggest, best planned and most richly decorated brothel – yesterday reopened to the public after extensive restoration.

The two-storey building, which was built at about the time Spartacus was leading his slaves’ revolt, had been closed for almost a year.

Its explicit wall paintings have long been a popular attraction for tourists visiting the site of the classical world’s best-preserved city.

The busy port of Pompeii was packed with bordellos.

At least 25 have been identified. But most occupied a single room, usually above a wine shop.

Though sited, like all the others, at the junction of two side streets, the “Lupanare“, was different.

Archaeologists believe it was the ancient city’s only purpose-built whorehouse.

So-called because, in Latin, lupa (she-wolf) was a common term for a prostitute, it consisted of 10 rooms and a latrine beneath the stairs.

Set into the wall of each of the women’s rooms was a stone bed covered with a mattress.

Researchers believe the Lupanare’s celebrated wall paintings, each depicting a different position, were intended to advertise the various specialities on offer.

The more elaborately painted upper floor, which had a separate entrance, is thought to have been reserved for better-off clients.

The prostitutes were slaves, usually of Greek or Eastern origin.

Their earnings were collected by the owner or manager of the brothel.

The Lupanare is known to have been built just a few years before the city’s violent destruction.

The plaster in one of the rooms bears the imprint of a coin dating from AD72.

Pompeii was obliterated when Mount Vesuvius erupted seven years later.

The vast explosion covered the city in a deep layer of ash that preserved it until its rediscovery in the early 18th century.

Did lead cause the end of the Roman empire?

Play on Spartacus: here.

From Italian news agency ANSA:

2007-03-23 12:00

Pompeian plants for sale

Herbalist’s shop opens in archaeological site

POMPEII (ANSA) – Fruits, herbs, seeds and other plant products popular with ancient Romans will go back on sale this week in a renovated herbalist’s store in the archaeological site of Pompeii.

The merchandise has all been produced from plants grown in a Pompeian botanical garden, painstakingly restored to its former glory.

An interdisciplinary team, including archaeologists, biologists, botanists and historians, has spent years excavating the remains of the site, identifying exactly which plants were grown where.

The 800-square-metre garden is now once again home to a vast variety of greenery, including fruit trees, medicinal herbs and vegetables.

The project also entailed extensive analysis of Roman texts in order to produce items as close as possible to what would once have been sold in the herbalist.

One of the most popular products grown in the ancient garden were different kinds of nuts, according to the biologist leading the team, Annamaria Ciarallo.

“The inhabitants of Pompeii obviously didn’t have fridges to preserve food, so walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts were all very common,” she explained.

The garden is also home to apple, quince, fig and olive trees, while there is a range of herbs, used both in food preparation and for medicinal purposes.

These include basil and marjoram, as well as thyme, which has antiseptic qualities, garlic, used for high blood pressure, and rue, which can help induce abortion.

Pompeii’s marshy soil made it particularly well-suited to riverside trees, said Ciarallo. These include ash, whose flexible wood was used to make bed staves, willow, used for baskets, and poplar.

Different kinds of cane were also grown for a variety of purposes: to make wicker furniture, to strain ricotta, to act as frames for other plants, to make musical instruments and to make screens to divide rooms in houses, according to Ciarallo.

The herbalist’s store and the garden, which is divided into different sections signposted in Italian and English, will remain open to the general public until the middle of April.

This is the second garden developed by Ciarallo’s team in the remains of Pompeii, which was buried when Vesuvius erupted in August 79 AD.

Four years ago the team recreated a 4,000 square-meter garden attached to the city’s Casa del Profumiere (Perfumers’ House).

This led to the sale of the balms, essences and cosmetics in the adjoining building.

Violet, rose, lily, basil, dill, rue, thyme, anise, oregano and lemon balm were just some of the plants cultivated in the garden, although the perfumer living there probably also made use of more exotic, imported ingredients.

Ciarallo’s team also uncovered several olive trees in the garden, which were used to produce oil in which herbs, spices and flowers were left to steep.

The finished product was kept in containers made of non-absorbent materials such as bronze and glass to slow down the otherwise rapid deterioration process.

The interdisciplinary group has also been behind a highly successful attempt to produce the world’s first recreation of ancient Roman wine.

The project, now in its seventh year, uses grapes from the restored vineyard at the House of the Fountain.

The ruby-red, full-bodied wine was named after one of the buried city’s most famous attractions, Villa dei Misteri (Villa of Mysteries).

Everyday life in Pompeii: here.

Burgundy Wine Has Long History In France: Remains Of Gallo-Roman Vineyard Discovered In Gevrey-Chambertin: here.

‘Archaeologist of erotica’ uncovers lost world of brothels: here.

Romans killed dozens of unwanted babies at English brothel : here.

Scientists question accepted wisdom on what killed Pompeiians when Mt Vesuvius erupted: here.

John Martin’s great painting of Pompeii apocalypse restored: here.

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23 thoughts on “Pompeii: ancient Roman brothel restored. Roman plants

  1. Jul 19, 2007, 5:34 PM EDT

    Archaeologists dig up Roman bath complex


    ROME (AP) — Archaeologists said Thursday they have partly dug up a second-century bath complex believed to be part of the vast, luxurious residence of a wealthy Roman.

    The two-story complex, which extends for at least 5 acres, includes exceptionally well-preserved decorated hot rooms, vaults, changing rooms, marble latrines and an underground room where slaves lit the fire to warm the baths.

    Statues and water cascades decorated the interiors, American archaeologist Darius A. Arya, the head of the excavation, said Thursday during a tour of the digs with The Associated Press. Only pedestals and fragments have been recovered.

    Arya spoke as students and experts were brushing off earth and dust from ancient marbles, mosaic floors and a rudimentary heating system, made of pipes that channeled hot air throughout the complex.

    “The Romans had more leisure time than other people, and it’s here in the baths that they typically spent their time,” Arya said. “Because you could eat well, you could get a massage, you could have sex, you could gossip, you could play your games, you could talk about politics – you could spend the whole day here.”

    However, he added, “to have a bath complex of this size, this scale, it’s very unusual.”

    The complex is believed to be part of a multiple-story villa that belonged to the Roman equivalent of a billionaire of today, a man called Quintus Servilius Pudens who was friends with Emperor Hadrian, Arya said. It is not clear if the baths were open to the public or reserved to distinguished guests of the owner.

    “These people lived a magnificent existence and were able to provide entertainment,” to others, said Arya, who is also a professor at the American Institute for Roman Culture.

    Excavations at the Villa delle Vignacce park lasted a total of 10 weeks, and it is planned to continue, he said. Future decisions, including whether the site will be opened to the public, are still to be made.

    Ancient Romans put a great deal of emphasis on bathing, turning the art of the soak into a ritual.

    Meeting at communal bath houses, they would go through a series of rooms of alternating temperatures at a leisurely pace, dipping themselves in hot and cold baths. It was a social event, but also a way to purify their bodies of toxins and a form of relaxation.

    © 2007 The Associated Press


  2. Now come one. Just calling it out like a *fact* that the prostitutes were so destitute as to label them “slaves” is to miss all manner of modern professional and not-so-professional (pimp autobiographies), that indeed “service providers” give ALL their money to the pimp, or house madame, that this is based not as much on slavery as on love, in the sense of the pimp being a Father Figure etc. See any classic scar marks on the girls, from lash or chain? Would customers want inhibited, scarred and scared girls? No. Do women today support their “nursing school” or “dance school” careers in my city of NYC? That’s a rhetorical question. Are they “slaves”? Yes…to Capitalism, since uh Marxism doesn’t exactly provide free nuclear powered gold coin making machines when it rains, and especially when it doesn’t rain. The biggest confusion I have is about STDs. That would have killed off Pompei in a couple decades. Ah, but maybe they really did have Christianity by then, and thus circumcism, though their prominently foreskined Phallic artifacts do not indicate this to be so. Perhaps they used some toxic metal filled lubrication? Really. I mean the Parthenon is made of Portland cement, “invented” by Thomas Edison. Also, the myth that classic Greek men sodomized young boys is just that, a myth. They merely had a method of masturbation, in which either boy or man used oil to “penetrate” little more than the space between each others arm and torso. In other words, it was a form of “circle jerk” assisted masturbation, much like Victorian or Renaissance nannies used to calm down young boys via handjobs.


  3. ‘Live excavation’ at Pompeii

    Work on House of Chaste Lovers open to public

    01 February, 13:31

    ‘Live excavation’ at Pompeii (ANSA) – Pompeii, February 1 – Visitors to the archaeological site of Pompeii will soon get the chance to observe the complex excavation process involved as it happens.

    Excavation and restoration work at the House of the Chaste Lovers, which resumed a few months ago following ten years of neglect, will open to the public from the start of February.

    Visitors will be allowed to enter sections of the building and watch archaeologists at work, gaining a deeper understanding of the effort involved in bringing 2,000-year-old remains to light. ”This is a project of immense importance to us,” said Pompeii’s emergency commissioner Marcello Fiori, recalling it was a priority on his works programme, approved by the culture ministry in November. ”These ‘open-door’ excavations will greatly enrich the opportunities provided by Pompeii. ”They will provide visitors with a different kind of experience, in which they have the chance to observe the fascinating work of archaeologists in action, as well as seeing recently unearthed items in situ”. The site will be protected from damage by glass screens. Interior panels will provide visitors with practical information, while technology will offer a virtual reconstruction of the premises as they probably looked prior to their destruction.

    Last week, reports appeared in some newspapers that the House of Chaste Lovers had been seriously damaged after a crane collapsed on top of the site but Pompeii Excavations Director Antonio Varone dismissed these claims. Accusing the media of ”alarmism”, he explained that there had been a ”small landslip that caused no significant damage”.

    ”Heavy rains led to earth movements in the insula (apartment block) next to that of the House of Chaste Lovers,” he said.

    ”This caused the collapse of several meters of the boundary wall, which however contained no frescoes”. The House of the Chaste Lovers takes its name from its elaborate interior wall paintings showing lovers during a feast.

    The premises were made up of living quarters and a small bakery opening directly on to the street where the public could buy bread. The bakery contained a large oven with millstones, while archaeologists have discovered the remains of mules, used to transport grain, in a stable at the back of the premises opening onto an alleyway.

    Experts have already started reconstructing the garden space, using holes left by the reed markers that once surrounded it. The most recent finds include a large cistern, used to provide water to the bakery, and the remains of building materials, which archaeologists believe were being used to repair damage to the premises caused by a small earthquake not long before Vesuvius erupted. Paint pots, a small furnace, a compass and partially completed wall sketches indicate that the living quarters were also being redecorated at the time of the eruption. ”All this shows again how Pompeian society was lively and active at the time of the disaster,” concluded Varone.


  4. Pompeii’s erotic bath paintings lit up

    Sound-and-light show for Venus At The Baths

    13 May, 15:39

    (ANSA) – Pompeii, May 13 – The famous erotic wall paintings in Pompeii’s suburban baths will be spotlighted in a special nighttime ‘sound-and-light’ show this weekend.

    The show, dubbed Venus At The Baths, aims to give visitors “their best view yet” of the explicit pictures which some experts believe were advertisements of the services on offer at the baths, organisers said.

    The 16 paintings, some showing group and oral sex, have no equivalent at any other ancient Roman bath site and they have fuelled lively debate since they were discovered 50 years ago.

    Some say they were simply a celebration of the joys of life typical of the earthy city by the sea destroyed by a catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.

    Others think they were merely a way of reminding bathers which locker they put their clothes in.

    The paintings have been viewable since 2001, for small groups only, but a recent restructuring has made it possible for bigger groups to be accommodated, organisers said.

    These new visits, for adults only and through reservations, are set to become a “regular feature” of the site’s summer attractions, they said.

    Erotic art is also to be found in several of Pompeii’s villas while some of the naughty pictures at the city’s many brothels are just as titillating as those at the baths but judged of lesser artistic and historical merit.


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