• Tempio di Venere
  • Pompei
  • Pompeii
  • Italy
  • Campania
  • Naples
  • Pompei


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  • 100 BC - 79 AD


    • The provision of temple precincts with groves and gardens was fairly common practice in the Roman world, however these sacred gardens rarely have been investigated archaeologically, even in Pompeii. To remedy this situation the University of Sheffield carried out research from 1998 to the present at the temple of Venus to retrieve evidence for the date and layout of the city’s principal Roman sanctuary and its landscape planting. Our investigations have contributed significantly to an understanding of the use of urban space in Pompeii and the role of the sacred grove in cult practice. Clear evidence was retrieved for the landscaping of the earliest Roman sanctuary in the 1st century B.C., around the middle of that century at the latest, allowing us to identify this as one of the oldest known temple gardens in the Roman empire. The sacred grove of _Venus_ was an ‘architectural’ garden in which alternating types of trees and bushes were planted on three sides of the courtyard in rows of terracotta containers along the portico columns, the trees almost certainly echoing the rhythms of the columns and visually highlighting the temple as one approached from the south. The plantings at the temple constituted what Latin texts refer to as a _nemus_ , a grove created or manipulated by man and furnished with sacred buildings and images. In the Augustan period the temple and its porticoes were refurbished, and for some reason the temple garden was abandoned and the courtyard paved with mortar. Even though the sanctuary thereafter had no garden, the votive monuments and water features we excavated indicate that the courtyard remained a _focus_ of religious veneration and social activity until the final destruction of the sanctuary in A.D. 79.
    • Recovering evidence for a the temple grove in the sanctuary of Venus is our primary research focus, but the excavations have shed light also on the chronology and development of the sanctuary, the landscaping of and alterations to the temple precinct, and the role of the sanctuary in expressing Pompeii’s political and religious identity. Excavations were conducted in 1998, 2004 and 2006, with two study seasons in 2006 and 2007. In order to build the sanctuary on the natural slope of land, masses of building debris, rubbish and soil were brought in and deposited to create a level terrace for the new temple and its surrounding porticoes. The foundations of the buildings cut through and were inserted into the temple terrace deposits. Pottery, artefacts, stratigraphy and historical considerations suggest that the temple is a creation of the Roman colonists around the mid-first century B.C. In our investigations, clear evidence for plantings has been retrieved, demonstrating that the landscaping of the sanctuary courtyard as a sacred grove was contemporaneous with the building of the temple and its surrounding porticoes. It is one of the earliest temple groves in the Roman world for which there is archaeological evidence. Planting pits for trees, some of them still with terracotta planting pots in situ, were dug into the temple terrace construction deposits. The grove consisted of a row of trees and/or shrubs planted parallel to the colonnades on the north, west and east sides of the sanctuary. The design is that of a formal planting of trees surrounded by a porticus triplex. Located on a vast artificial terrace in the south-west corner of the town, the sanctuary with its temple, porticoes and landscaped courtyard stood as a conspicuous monument and ideological symbol of Roman Pompeii, “Venus’ dwelling” (Martial, Epigrams 4.44.5). In its second phase in the early first century A.D., the temple and porticoes were refurbished using Luna marble as decoration. For some reason, the sacred grove went out of use then or was abandoned, and the sanctuary courtyard paved with mortar. The bases of votive monuments and traces of alterations to the water management of the sanctuary in the Augustan period indicate that the site remained an important cult centre. The earthquake of A.D. 62 and perhaps further tremors in subsequent years destroyed all the buildings. The debris in the precinct had been cleared and building work on the foundations of a new temple and porticoes had made considerable progress, however, before the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Some parts of the Luna marble superstructure of the second phase temple were being recycled for this last building, and different types of coloured limestone imported from the eastern Mediterranean and northern Italy were being cut and worked on site. The sanctuary was never finished, nor was its sacred grove replanted, because of the final catastrophe.
    • The Venus Pompeiana Project (VPP) is a new archaeological and architectural research programme launched with the aim of reaching firmer conclusions on the chronology, development, and nature of the occupation of the Sanctuary of Venus. Special attention is paid to the structures discovered below the temple triporticus, which were partially explored during the investigations carried out by Emmanuele Curti of the Scuola di Specializzazione in Archeologia di Matera between 2004 and 2007. New stratigraphic research has been launched in the east sector of the temple court, reopening a trench from 2006-2007 and extending it across the and the east portico to map the continuation of previously discovered structures. The initial results have been integrated with both the data from the 2015-2016 Pompeii per tutti project (Soprintendenza Pompei) and the reanalysis of the topographical data from the 2004-2007 campaigns, thus providing new evidence on the spatial organization of the site in the pre-Roman phase and on the date of the first monumental temple complex. In particular, a sidewalk feature discovered below the level of the sanctuary’s eastern courtyard suggests the existence of a side street branching off from Via Marina and continuing in a southerly direction. This alley plausibly demarcated two separate city-blocks in use during the 2nd century BC. The area to the east of the street was occupied by what Curti described as a courtyard building, a complex that most likely continued under the Vicolo di Championnet and the Basilica. Detailed layout and function of this building have yet to be clarified through further investigations. Ceramic and coin evidence suggests a post-Sullan date for the completion of the triporticus and, presumably, of the podium temple. The construction of the sanctuary brought with it a major reorganization of the site: the sacred area was expanded beyond the previous limits: Via Marina was narrowed to accommodate the north wing of the portico, while the pre-existing N-S street was obliterated to make room for the east wing. Further archaeological investigations and analysis are planned for 2018 in order to reveal the nature and precise chronology of the buildings discovered below the sanctuary structures, and to clarify the relationship existing between the sanctuary of Venus and adjacent areas and monuments, such as the Vicolo di Championnet.


    • Maureen Carroll, Giuseppe Montana, Luciana Randazzo, Renato Giarrusso. 2008. Recovering evidence for the use of marble and coloured limestone in the first century AD in excavations at the sanctuary of Venus at Pompeii. FOLD&R Italy: 119.
    • Ilaria Battiloro, 3. Marcello Mogetta- University of Missouri, Columbia. 2018. New Investigations at the Sanctuary of Venus in Pompeii: Interim Report on the 2017 Season of the Venus Pompeiana Project . FOLD&R Italy: 425.
    • Marcello Mogetta – Ilaria Battiloro – Ivan Varriale – Daniel P. Diffendale – Giordano Iacomelli – Mattia D’Acri – Chiara Corbino – Chiara Comegna – Giacomo Pardini . 2022. Archaeological Research at the Sanctuary of Venus in Pompeii: Interim Report of the 2018-2019 Seasons of the Venus Pompeiana Project . FOLD&R Italy: 535.


    • M. Carroll, 2008, Nemus et Templum. Exploring the sacred grove at the Temple of Venus in Pompeii, in P.G. Guzzo – M.P. Guidobaldi (a cura di), Nuove ricerche archeologiche nell'area vesuviana (scavi 2003-2006), Atti del Convegno Internazionale, Roma 1-3 febbraio 2007, Roma: 37-45.
    • M. Carroll, c.s., Temple Gardens and Sacred Groves, in W.F. Jashemski (ed), Gardens of the Roman World, Cambridge.
    • M. Carroll, 2003, Earthly Paradises. Ancient Gardens in History and Archaeology, London: 89-90.
    • M. Carroll, in preparation, Politics, cult and identity in Roman Pompeii: Exploring the sanctuary of Venus and its sacred grove.
    • M. Carroll, G. Montana, L. Randazzo, R. Giarrusso, Recovering evidence for the use of marble and coloured limestone in the first century AD in excavations at the sanctuary of Venus at Pompeii, in www.fastionline.org/docs/FOLDER-it-2008-119.pdf.
    • P. Arthur, 1986, Problems of urbanization of Pompeii. Excavations 1980-1981, in AntJ, 66, 29-44.
    • M. Carroll, 2010, Exploring the sanctuary of Venus and its sacred grove: politics, cult and identity in Roman Pompeii, in PBSR, 28, 63-106.
    • F. Coletti, G. Sterpa, 2008 Resti pavimentali in cementizio, mosaico e sectile dall’area del tempio di Venere a Pompei: i dati di scavo, in C. Angelelli and F. Rinaldi (a cura di), Atti del XIII colloquio dell’associazione italiana per lo studio e la conservazione del mosaico (Canosa di Puglia, 21-24 febbraio 2007), Tivoli, 129-143.
    • F. Coletti, C. Prascina, G. Sterpa, N. Witte, 2010, Venus Pompeiana. Scelte progettuali e procedimenti tecnici per la realizzazione di un edificio sacro tra tarda repubblica e primo impero, in S. Camporeale, H. Dessales, and A. Pizzo (a cura di), Arqueología de la construcción, 2. Los procesos constructivos en el mundo romano. Italia y provincias orientales. Certosa di Pontignano, Siena, 13-15 de noviembre de 2008, Madrid, 189-211.
    • E. Curti, 2005, Le aree portuali di Pompei: nuovi dati, in V. Scarano Ussani (a cura di), Moregine. Suburbio ‘portale di Pompei’, Napoli, 51-76.
    • E. Curti, 2007, La Venere Fisica trionfante: un nuovo ciclo di iscrizioni dal santuario di Venere a Pompei, in Le perle e il filo. Studi per il 70 anni di Mario Torelli, Venosa, 57-71
    • E. Curti, 2008, Il tempio di Venere Fisica e il porto di Pompei, in P.G. Guzzo and M.P. Guidobaldi (a cura di), Nuove ricerche archeologiche nell’area vesuviana (scavi 2003-2006). Atti del Convegno Internazionale, Roma 1-3 febbraio 2007, Roma, 47-60.
    • E. Curti, 2009, Spazio sacro e politico nella Pompei preromana, in M. Osanna (a cura di), Verso la città. Forme insediative in Lucania e nel mondo italico tra IV e III sec. a.C., Atti delle Giornate di Studio, Venosa 2006, Venosa, 497-511.
    • A. Lepone, 2004, Venus Fisica Pompeiana, in Siris, 5, 159-169.
    • A. Lepone, 2017, Il tempio di Venere, in E. Lippolis and M. Osanna (a cura di), I Pompeiani e i loro dei. Atti della giornata di studi. Sapienza Università di Roma (15 febbraio 2015), Roma, 89-109.
    • Martucci, C.d.s., Defunzionalizzazione di una cisterna: uno scarico votivo nel Tempio di Venere a Pompei, in Per la conoscenza dei Beni culturali, 4. Ricerche del dottorato in metodologie conoscitive per la conservazione e la valorizzazione dei Beni Culturali 2007-2011, Santa Maria Capua Vetere 2012, 55-64.
    • A. Mau, 1900, Der Tempel des Venus Pompeiana, in MDAI(R), 15, 269-308.
    • I. Varriale, 2010, I cicli decorativi di età tardo-ellenistica dal tempio di Venere a Pompei, in I. Bragantini (a cura di), Atti del X Congresso Internazionale dell’AIPMA (Association Internationale pour la Peinture Murale Antique), Napoli 2010, 375-386.