From 2000 onwards the “Progetto Regio VI” has made analytical studies of individual buildings and excavated trenches in most of the insulae present in the north-western sector of the city ( insulae 2, 5, 7, 9, 13 and 14 of Regio VI and insulae 7 and 15 of Regio VII), in recent years extending the research to a number of neighbouring insulae ( insula 3 of Regio V and insulae 2 and 7 of Regio IX).
Eight insulae have been studied in their entirety and excavations undertaken inside them: VI, 2; VI, 5; VI, 7; VI, 9; VI, 10; VI, 13; VI, 14; VII, 15. Seven houses were brought to light below the 2nd century A.D. levels and excavated to over 80% of their original surface area: the House of Isis (VI, 2, 17.20); Domus VI, 2, 14; Domus VI, 2, 26; Proto-house of Grand Duke Michele (VI, 5,5); Proto-house of the Centaur (VI, 9, 3-5); the House of the Ships (VI,10,11); Domus VI, 14, 40. Lastly, eight Archaic structures were found during the excavations, with foundations of either pappamonte blocks or of dry-stone construction. Partial studies were undertaken on insulae VII, 7; IX, 2 e IX, 7.
The criteria for the positioning, quantity and extension of the excavations, were dictated by economics and flexibility. The research was directed to zones where the preliminary architectural analyses of the building showed clear indications of earlier building phases or where it had become necessary to check the absolute chronology of an intervention. For this reason, preference was given to the exploration of residential and commercial structures which for technique and decoration are usually attributed to the earliest building phase documented in the town (houses and shops with facades in travertine blocks and perimeter walls in opus africanum ) and, above all, to the interior of those structures showing signs of raised floor levels in a period in which I Style decoration was still in use.
The results established that the houses built using construction techniques traditionally consider the earliest by Pompeian studies in fact dated to the 3rd century B.C. and that often, below buildings extensively restructured during the late Samnite period, deep fills had buried the earliest houses without causing significant damage to their architecture and decoration. In particular, three “proto-houses” were almost completely excavated, revealing important information regarding 3rd century B.C. domestic architecture and decorative schemes: Proto-house of the Centaur (VI,9,3), Proto-house VI,14,40, Proto-house of Grand Duke Michele (VI,5,5).
In some cases, the excavations revealed substantial traces of the Archaic occupation of the quarter, perhaps already for residential purposes. From the 6th century B.C. the main roads seem to have already been laid out, with the opening of the great via di Mercurio and its parallels. It also seems that this period of growth, culminating in the construction of the walls and the two great urban sanctuaries (the temple of Apollo and the Doric temple) was followed by a substantial contraction of the settlement, perhaps due to the “Samnitisation” affecting this area of ancient Campania from the third quarter of the 5th century B.C. onwards. As suggested by a well-known passage in Livy (IX, 38, 2) and a comparison with evidence from other sites in Campania and Lucania (Capua, Cumae, Paestum), until the last decades of the 4th century B.C. the town seemed to only function as a centre for administrative and production support for a territory populated by small vici and farms, whose economy was mainly based on agriculture, stock-raising and the control of the road network. In fact, only a few modest houses of one or two rooms facing onto a courtyard can be dated to this period. Between the middle and the end of the 4th century B.C. they occupied, in the vicinity of the Triangular Forum, spaces which had remained free of constructions for almost a century.
Only at the end of the Second Samnite War and the stipulation of the foedus between Rome and the populations of the Sarno Valley was there a reversal in the tendency. There was a planned and systematic reoccupation of the site, which was provided with new infrastructures (first phase of the agger walls and creation of an internal road network). Out of this new urban phase, datable to the end of the 4th century B.C., came the great Hellenistic Pompeii. The excavations have shown that both aristocratic domus with Tuscan atrium (e.g. House of the Scientists, House of the Ships) and houses still using local construction typology (Proto-house of the Centaur) belonged to the initial phase in the development of Regio VI (3rd century B.C.), whilst it was only at the end of the 3rd century B.C. that use of the atrium-house spread definitively to the middle classes (e.g. Proto-house of Grand Duke Michele; Domus VI, 14, 40).
- Fabrizio Pesando - Università degli Studi di Napoli "L'Orientale"
- Annapaola Zaccaria Ruggiu - Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia
- Filippo Coarelli - Università degli Studi di Perugia
- Giuseppe Pucci - Università degli Studi di Siena
- Monika Verzàr-Bass - Università degli Studi di Trieste
- Dipartimento di Antichità e Archeologia dell'Università degli Studi di Trieste
- Università Cà Foscari di Venezia
- Università degli Studi di Napoli "L'Orientale"
- Università degli Studi di Perugia
- Università degli Studi di Siena
- Ministero dell'Università e della Ricerca Scientifica, PRIN 2004-2006 e 2006-2008 “I primi secoli di Pompei”
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