Friday, April 10, 2020

A tour of the Casa del Cervi (House of the Stags) in Herculaneum

A tour of the Casa del Cervi (House of the Stags) in Herculaneum by Francesco Sirano (in Italian with English subtitles)
Named after the marble statues found in its peristyle garden, The House of the Stags was a high status Roman Villa owned by Q. Granius Verus, a successful merchant, whose name was found stamped into a carbonized loaf of bread. The house appears to have been first built during the reign of either the Emperor Augustus or Claudius but was completely remodeled, except the atrium, just before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. The rennovations linked a series of interconnected rooms and spaces to optimize the villa's spectacular sea views. It was surrounded by a cryptoporticus with 64 individual wall paintings (pinakes) depicting still lifes of birds, plants and cherubs to stimulate conversation with strolling guests. In between the paintings were a series of narrow openings that allowed glimpses of the peristyle garden in the centre of the south east wing of the villa. The peristyle garden featured a terrace and pergola overlooking the seaside and contained a group of statues consisting of a statue of Hercules, a satyr with a wine skin and the stags that gave the house its name. These were carefully arranged to draw attention to the opening to the grandest room of the house, the cenatio or main dining room with a magnificent opus sectile mosaic floor. Although plundered in the 1700s by royal tunnelers, the villa was not formally excavated until 1929-1932 by Italian archaeologist Amedeo Maiuri.

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