The eye-catching marble-clad surfaces of Pompeii’s streetside bars have been ignored by scholars, perhaps because of their plebeian character, or the lack of research on the marble trade, or Pompeii’s history of undocumented restoration. The latter remains a problem but is perhaps overstated.
Archival research validates paving with marble fragments as an ancient practice but no records let us control every bar for overzealous restoration. Nevertheless, occasional notices (in PAH, Notizie degli Scavi and Warsher’s Marmi di Pompei) and early drawings suggest that restoration has been careful, as demonstrable at bars V 4, 7, and VI 10, 1.
The University of Akron Sleazy Bars project, directed by J. Clayton Fant, has studied 23 bars with 3,775 pieces of marble and will record the other ca. 25 surviving ones in June 2008. The total absence of republican stones plus evidence of reuse implicate debris from the A.D. 62 earthquake as the source. A “fanciness” index (based on marble type) shows a close correlation with density of foot traffic. This, combined with different treatment of surfaces within bars, further implies that marble from the post-earthquake cleanup was sold, not left for salvage. Finally, the range of imported stones, including ones from Egypt’s Eastern Desert, underlines the pervasiveness of the Mediterranean marble trade already in the Julio-Claudian period.
- J. Clayton Fant - University of Akron, Department of Classical Studies, Anthropology and Archaeology
- Carrie Szoka - University of Akron
- Jeffrey Winstel - United States Parks Service
- Kent Humrichouser - University of Akron
- Donato Attanasio - Istituto di struttura della materia CNR, Monterotondo
- University of Akron, Department of Classical Studies, Anthropology and Archaeology
- University of Akron, Faculty Research Committee
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