Saturday, August 22, 2015


Built for Domitian (81/96) between 81 and 96 by the architect Rabirius, occupying the whole central part of the Palatine Hill

It was built entirely in concrete covered with bricks and fronted on the west side by a colonnade of cipolin marble, later replaced by brick pillars, which also had to continue on the north side where the main entrance was

It was the public and representative wing of the Imperial Palace, the private wing was the Domus Augustana

Three series of rooms arranged on three sides of a rectangular peristyle, surrounded by a portico with columns of Numidian marble and with a central octagonal fountain

At the center of the north side there is a huge room known as AULA REGIA (royal hall) where the emperor, seated on a throne in the semicircular apse at the opposite side of the entrance, used to receive and give audience

The room (30.5 x 38.7 m - 100 x 127 feet) had also marble columns covered with colored marble and with niches for statues
The roof was probably slanted (i.e. inclined towards the outside, sending rain water toward the outer walls) with wooden coffered ceiling

On the sides of the Aula Regia there were two smaller rooms:

The west one known as BASILICA, built on the former Aula Isiaca (House of Isis), rectangular, with apse and divided into three naves by a double row of columns in yellow marble from Tunisia and maybe an auditorium for meetings of the Imperial Board

The one on the east, called erroneously LARARIUM, built on the House of the Griffins, was perhaps the seat of the Praetorian Guard

On the west side of the peristyle there is a wing of connection between the two main areas of the palace, formed by an octagonal room with four apses and two side rooms symmetrical and elliptical

To the south there is a large hall with an apse at the center paved with polychrome and set on a “vespaio” (crawl space) where in the cold months hot air was circulating, identified as the TRICLINIUM and cited in sources with the name of COENATIO JOVIS
The room had a semicircular apse elevated on a step and had the sides opened with large windows over two symmetrical nymphea with monumental oval fountains

Located under the so-called BASILICA in the west part of the Domus Flavia
Rectangular room only partially preserved with the short apsidal added later on, relevant to a stately home of the Republican period
Its name derives from the many decorative motifs referring to the Egyptian cult of Isis and Serapis, as the garland of roses on the net, the lotus, the serpent with flat body
The paintings date to about 30/25 BC and are considered to be an example of advanced second Pompeian style
The paintings are now kept in a room in the Loggia Mattei in the Domus Augustana area

Under the so-called LARARIUM in the east of the Domus Flavia is the most interesting republican house found in Rome, called “of the Griffins” for the stucco decoration of one lunette
The paintings are dated to late second or early first century BC (the house was older) and are the oldest of the second Pompeian style extant in the world with illusionistic representation of columns that are detached from the walls even if they don't open to prospective backgrounds as in the second advanced style

It is present here again the structure of a wall in blocks that in the first style was made of stucco
The more complete paintings are now in a deposit adjacent to the Palatine Museum and in-situ there are less complete walls, the lunette with griffins and some mosaics
One of these mosaics has a small central square area with stones and colorful marbles: it's the floor known as scutulatum which is also to be found in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus in Rome and in the House of the Faun in Pompeii

At the side of the complex of S. Bonaventure are the remains of a construction in concrete covered with bricks: it might be a nympheum (fountain) or a building for the water distribution system

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