Beautifully-Preserved Frescoes with Figures from the Trojan War Discovered in a Lavish Pompeii Home

Image via  Pom­peii Archae­o­log­i­cal Park

Imag­ine vis­it­ing the home of a promi­nent, wealthy fig­ure, and at the evening’s end find­ing your­self in a room ded­i­cat­ed to late-night enter­tain­ing, paint­ed entire­ly black except for a few scenes from antiq­ui­ty. Per­haps this would­n’t sound entire­ly implau­si­ble in, say, twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry Sil­i­con Val­ley. But such places also exist­ed in antiq­ui­ty itself: or at least one of them did, as recent­ly dis­cov­ered in Pom­peii. Pre­served for near­ly two mil­len­nia now by the ash of Mount Vesu­vius, the ruins of that city give us the clear­est and most detailed archae­o­log­i­cal insights we have into life at the height of the Roman Empire — but even today, a third of the site has yet to be exca­vat­ed.

That archae­o­log­i­cal dig con­tin­ues apace, and its lat­est dis­cov­ery — more recent than the Pom­pei­ian “snack bar” and “piz­za” pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture — is “a spec­tac­u­lar ban­quet­ing room with ele­gant black walls, dec­o­rat­ed with mytho­log­i­cal char­ac­ters and sub­jects inspired by the Tro­jan War,” includ­ing such mytho­log­i­cal char­ac­ters as Helen, Paris, Cas­san­dra, and Apol­lo.

“It pro­vid­ed a refined set­ting for enter­tain­ment dur­ing con­vivial moments, whether ban­quets or con­ver­sa­tions, with the clear aim of pur­su­ing an ele­gant lifestyle, reflect­ed by the size of the space, the pres­ence of fres­coes and mosaics dat­ing to the Third Style.”

Fres­coes in that Roman Third Style, explains Hyper­al­ler­gic’s Rhea Nay­yar, fea­ture “small, fine­ly paint­ed fig­ures and sub­jects that seem to float with­in mono­chro­mat­ic fields,” designed “to mim­ic framed works of art or altars through illu­sions resem­bling carved beams, shad­ed pil­lars, and shin­ing can­de­labras — all of which were paint­ed on flat walls.”

The col­or of those walls, in this case, seems to have been cho­sen to hide the car­bon deposits left by oil lamps burn­ing all night long. As report­ed by BBC Sci­ence News, the com­mis­sion­er of this room, and indeed of the lav­ish house in which it’s locat­ed, may have been Aulus Rustius Verus, a “super-rich” local politi­cian who — assum­ing deci­sive archae­o­log­i­cal evi­dence emerges in his favor — also knew how to par­ty.

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed con­tent:

A New­ly-Dis­cov­ered Fres­co in Pom­peii Reveals a Pre­cur­sor to Piz­za

Take a High Def, Guid­ed Tour of Pom­peii

Archae­ol­o­gists Dis­cov­er an Ancient Roman Snack Bar in the Ruins of Pom­peii

Behold 3D Recre­ations of Pompeii’s Lav­ish Homes — as They Exist­ed Before the Erup­tion of Mount Vesu­vius

Watch the Destruc­tion of Pom­peii by Mount Vesu­vius, Re-Cre­at­ed with Com­put­er Ani­ma­tion (79 AD)

Pom­peii Rebuilt: A Tour of the Ancient City Before It Was Entombed by Mount Vesu­vius

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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