Pompeii: The Casa di Arianna in context. Building history and town planning

With a surface area of nearly 1,800 m2 the Casa di Arianna (Regio VII 4, 31.51) is one of the largest inner-urban houses of Pompeii. The recent studies on the shape of the houses are aimed at researching the building history within the context of the neighboring houses and at analyzing the results in terms of the urban development of Pompeii.

Project description

Since 2018 a multidisciplinary team of the OeAI has been working on the study of the Casa di Arianna in the Regio VII in Pompeii (VII 4, 31.51) in collaboration with the Sección de Arquelogía (SIAM) del Ayuntamiento de Valencia (A. Ribera i Lacomba) and with the kind permission of the Parco Archeologico di Pompei

The aim of the new investigations is the architectural documentation of the Casa di Arianna and the neighboring houses in order to use the detailed findings for the interpretation of the urban development of Pompeii. The results from the stratigraphic excavations of the cooperation partner take on a crucial role as a way of retracing the historical development of the house by merging all research results and, therefore, fill an important research gap in the urban history of Pompeii. In addition to further research, they are intended to make a fundamental contribution towards understanding the history of the Insula VII, 4 and its inhabitants across time within its urban and historical contexts.

The House

With a surface area of nearly 1,800 m2 the Casa di Arianna is one of the largest inner-urban houses of Pompeii. It covers the entire north-south extension of the building block at the eastern end of the insula VII 4. In 79 CE, the building complex included around 70 different rooms. They were organized around three distributor areas (atrium – central peristyle – north peristyle) that were arranged along a continuous longitudinal axis. The preserved situation is the result of a long and complex construction and use history that is closely linked to that of the adjoining buildings of the insula VII 4 (Casa della Caccia Antica [VII 4,48]; Casa del Granduca di Toscana [VII 4,56]; Casa dei Capitelli Figurati [VII 4,57]; Casa del Forno a Riverbero [VII 4,29]).

Initial results

Through the current survey of the architecture it was possible to precisely document the building remains in the area of the Casa di Arianna for the first time. The complete three-dimensional measurement of the Casa di Arianna and the neighboring houses with the help of a terrestrial laser scanner and the use of Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry sets a new basis for the analysis of the connections between buildings in the east of the insula VII 4. By combining the above-mentioned measurement methods it was possible to document the extensive building remains in a short period of time and true to its complex surface geometries and as a result to create a highly precise basis for the traditional drawn documentation of the building on site in ground plans, sections and views.

As part of the first fieldwork it was also possible to study a barrel vaulted cellar bellow the rooms 56 and 57 in detail. In combination with the excavation results, the observations on the construction of the basement and the property boundaries allow for the conclusion that the cellar with peristyle was constructed in the second half of the 1st century BCE. For the construction of the exedra (room 56) located above and extending to the east it was apparently necessary to acquire land from the neighbor, the Casa della Caccia Antica.

Im Rahmen der ersten Feldarbeiten konnte ein tonnenüberwölbter Keller unterhalb der Räume 56 und 57 im Detail untersucht werden. In Zusammenschau mit den Grabungsergebnissen erlauben die Beobachtungen am Baubestand des Kellers und der Grundstücksgrenzen die Schlussfolgerung, dass der Keller mit dem Peristyl in der zweiten Hälfte des 1. Jhs. v. Chr. errichtet wurde. Für den Bau der darüberliegenden und nach Osten ausgreifenden Exedra (Raum 56) wurde offenbar Baugrund vom Nachbargrundstück der Casa della Caccia Antica erworben.


On the basis of the extensive documentation of the building remains of the Casa di Arianna and the adjacent building begun in 2018, it is intended to continue the systematic analysis of larger architectural connections.