Friday, December 6, 2013


Discovered in 1831 by Gian Pietro Campana
About 10 BC in opus caementicium (concrete) covered with bricks
Opposite the last steps there is a niche with the apse decorated as a nympheum (fountain). Below there is a mosaic panel framed by sea shells and a geometrical pattern with an inscription in mosaic presumably mentioning the names of two persons buried here: Cn(aei) Pomponi Hylae and Pomponiae Cn(aei) l(ibertae) Vitalinis. Below the inscription "Two griffins facing each other and musical instrument with strings"
RECTANGULAR HALL partially dug in the rock (4 x 3 m - 13 x 10 feet)
The complexity of its architecture and the stucco and fresco decoration are remarkable
Large APSE with an aedicula on a platform with two small columns supporting frieze and pediment: it is all built in bricks and stuccoed over. On the sides two more aediculae with two broken pediments enclosing a rounded pediment
On the RIGHT END SIDE the wall ends with another aedicula with triangular pediment. A terracotta sarcophagus covered with roofing tiles is located in a rectangular area under the stairs
The LEFT END SIDE was rebuilt later on. Two aediculae with triangular pediments bigger than the others and decorated with stuccos painted in bright colors were built over a preexisting decoration symmetrical to the one on the right end side. The decorative style and the inscriptions make it possible to date the newer decoration to the Flavian period (69/96). The preexisting decoration is therefore older
Some inscriptions date back to the Tiberius or Nero period (14/68 AD) including the one with the name Celadio one of Nero's freedmen and Paesuza, a lady who worked for Ottavia, Claudius' nephew and Nero's first wife
PAINTINGS dating back to this earlier period are decorating the apse and the vault ("Female figures, including two with wings, floating among thin branches"), the big arch over the apse ("Pegasi and human figures"), the pediment and the frieze of the central aedicula, where it is possible to see a "Mythological figure, maybe a Satyr among two Mermen" and a "Dionysian scene"
On the sides of the niche with the urns "Male figure with a scroll in his hand" and "Female figure" with a "Mystical cist" among them, bearing an obvious Dionysian meaning
Maybe they are the two buried in here, whose names are written in the marble plaque below: Granius Nestor and Vinileia Hedone, the original owners of the Columbarium: the burial of Pomponius Hylas probably happened in the later Flavian period
One of the aediculae on the left, from the Flavian period, also bears images with a clear symbolic and funerary meaning: "Centaur Chiron and Achilles" and in the frieze, maybe, "Ocnus' killing"
The urn with the ashes of Pomponius Hylas and his wife, stolen in the Middle Ages, ended up in Amalfi where is still kept nowadays

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