In 2015, a new research project under the direction of Monika Trümper, “Bathing Culture and the Development of Urban Space: Case Study Pompeii”, was initiated within the research framework of the TOPOI Excellence Cluster 264 of the German Research Foundation (DFG). The project is a research collaboration between the Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Oxford. Overall, it investigates various aspects of the development of bathing culture within the historic context of urban development of the city of Pompeii. A particular focus lies on the study of the development of baths and bathing in the late Republican period and the transition from Greek to Roman bathing traditions. In this, bathing culture is seen as a reflection of cultural identity and therefore contributing factor to current research on the urbanistic development of Pompeii between the Archaic and Samnite periods. On the ground, investigations are centered on two key structures in this respect, the Republican Baths (VIII 5, 36) and the Stabian Baths (VII 1, 8).
Aside from initial superficial excavations under Sogliano in 1882, the first systematic investigations of the Republican Baths were carried out under Amedeo Maiuri in 1950. Following this research, the building remained largely forgotten for several decades – it was only in recent years that Fabrizio Pesando suggested a more refined chronological interpretation based on observations of the standing, albeit heavily covered by vegetation and therefore largely obscured, remains. This latest understanding of the development of the site, however, remains to be tested against reliable archaeological data and the stratigraphic sequence in particular.
Two field seasons were conducted in 2015. In March, the Republican Baths were returned to the state left by the Maiuri excavations in 1950 by cleaning of surface material and vegetation. At the same time, a georeferenced plan of the entire area, including all earlier and later remains, was created in order to provide a basis for further study and identification of developmental phases of the area. In September 2015, first stratigraphic excavations in the southern parts of the Republican Baths were carried out. Three separate areas were targeted: area I – the SE part of the baths; area II/1 – the laconicum; area II/2 – the corridor running along the S face of the laconicum; area III – the praefurnium (Fig. 1).
All excavated areas had been affected by trenches dug by Maiuri, resulting in incomplete or disturbed stratigraphic sequences. Nonetheless, it was possible to identify and reconstruct a substantial overall Matrix of contexts reaching from the Bronze Age through to 79AD. While most data remains preliminary at present and requires further analysis, some interesting observations can already be made: the laconicum (identified as room 30) appears to have been constructed by the 2nd century BC, probably during its the earliest years. It underwent a major phase of reconstruction from an initially rectangular space to its current rounded interior shape. This is likely also to have occurred during the 2nd century BC. A further phase of rebuilding and modification dates to the 1st century BC. The development of the various identified phases of the praefurnium (identified as room 17) remains far more problematic: created originally as a rectangular space with six heating ducts for the two sets of caldaria and immersion pools, it was repeatedly modified, reduced in extent and reconstructed in order to modify heat flow and firing accessibility, as well as in response to the changing needs of the modified baths complex as a whole in its various phases.
- Monika Trümper- Freie Universität Berlin
- Mark Robinson- Oxford University
- Domenico Esposito - Freie Universität Berlin
- Alexander Hoer- Freie Universität Berlin
- Catello Imperatore-Pompeii
- Cleopatra Lawrence- Oxford University
- Florian Birkner- Freie Universität Berlin
- Johnathan Cook- Oxford University
- Katie Hiscocks- Oxford University
- Rosanna Sheehan- Oxford University
- Sebastiano Muratore-Palermo
- Simona Arrabito-Palermo
- Thomas Heide- Freie Universität Berlin
- Jennifer Hagen- Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg
- Theresa Schelling- Technische Universität Darmstadt
- lemens Brünenberg- Technische Universität Darmstadt
- Christoph Rummel - Freie Universität Berlin
- Jennifer Robinson- Oxford
- Daniel Fallmann- Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
- Institut für Klassische Archäologie - Freie Universität Berlin
- TOPOI Excellence Cluster 264
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