Thursday, August 20, 2015

PALATINE HILL - THE PRIVATE RESIDENCE OF THE EMPEROR - DOMUS AUGUSTANA

DOMUS AUGUSTANA
 Private residence of the emperor with small rooms alternated to spacious areas all arranged around the peristyle
The construction was based on two levels: an upper level at the same height of the Domus Flavia, and a lower one about 12 m (40 feet) below
The upper floor was arranged around a large peristyle colonnade in the center with a pool of water and a small temple on high podium at the center, maybe dedicated to Minerva

In one of the rooms around the peristyle there is the LOGGIA MATTEI with a set of columns
It was reduced to a room in 1595 when the owners, members of the Mattei family, had the ceiling built as a vault
The recently restored frescoes (about 1520) were reintegrated with the round zodiac signs returned by the Metropolitan Museum in New York, while the painted walls are preserved in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg
At the bottom center of the peristyle is a fountain with pattern of peltae (small shields) facing each other

Fa├žade of the Domus Augustana on the Circus Maximus, which was originally made out of a two-story colonnade to allow the emperor and his court to watch the races

It is in fact a complex of buildings related in part to Nero's Domus Transitoria (temporary house) and partly to the Domus Aurea (golden house)
Above the Domus Transitoria, destroyed by fire in AD 64, were laid the foundations of the Domus Aurea, never finished, that Domitian reused for its imperial palace

Structure of the Domitian's period (81/96)
It was believed to be the school for the imperial servants (Pedagogium), which is, however, known to have been on the Celium Hill
The name comes from one of the graffiti of the Severan period visible in one of the rooms (“exit de paedagogio”)
One of the most famous graffiti is a crucifix with a donkey's head and Greek inscription: “Alexamenos worships (his) god”. Probably a very early mockery of the Christian religion
It was most likely the residence of the imperial pages

It was excavated in mid-1800s for Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, the owner of the area at the time
Double row of small rooms with mosaics and plastered along a peristyle arbitrarily rebuilt by Luigi Canina (1795/1856) using parts not belonging to the building

Structure of the Septimius Severus' period (193/235)
In a room on the walls there are a number of male figures in natural size as well as a floor mosaic with a procession of eight men carrying a banner
It was therefore believed that this building was the Domus Praeconum, the seat of the college for the heralds
An inscription however identify it more convincingly as the Seat of Nuntii Circi, messengers of the circus

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