ROME – One of the most spectacular examples of the ancient Roman baths, the Baths of Caracalla, has become more spectacular. Authorities in Rome on Thursday opened to the public a unique private house that stood on the site before the baths, with a ceiling with frescoes and a prayer hall in honor of Roman and Egyptian deities.
The two-story house, or “domus,” dates from about 134-138 d. C., during the reign of the emperor Adriano. It was partially destroyed to make way for the construction of Caracalla’s public baths, which were inaugurated in 216 AD. flats.
The house, which is believed to have belonged to an affluent family of merchants given the quality of the frescoes, therefore represents what was in the same place before the baths, and shows how the city evolved in the second and third centuries AD, Daniela Porro , archeological site of Rome. superintendent, he said at the inauguration.
The ruins of the domus were first discovered in the mid-19th century about 10 meters (yards) below the current floor level of the baths. They were excavated about a century later, removing the inner prayer room and fragments of the frescoed ceiling from the dining room for restoration and conservation.
The prayer hall was briefly exposed but was closed to the public for 30 years. It reopened on Thursday alongside some of the never-before-seen ceiling fragments featuring images of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and agriculture, using precious Egyptian blue and cinnabar red pigments, conservatives said.
“Both the type of theme and the particularity of the painting are unique in the Roman panorama of the Adriana era” when the domus was built, said Mirella Serlorenzi, director of the Caracalla site.
The inner temple features images of the Roman gods Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva on one wall, and silhouettes of the Egyptian deities Isis and Anubis on other walls, evidence of religious “syncretism” —the mixture of different belief systems — that was common in Roman public monuments but not in the domestic of the time.
“It’s the first time we’ve found something like this in Rome, but also in the world because it’s not that there are many,” Serlorenzi said.
She noted that what experts know about Roman painting comes mainly from the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii near Naples, which were destroyed and their remains preserved under layers of volcanic materials when Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.
“So Roman painting after the 1st century AD remains a mystery because we didn’t have such well-preserved rooms up to the ceiling,” Serlorenzi said.
The domus exhibition, entitled “Before the baths: the house where the gods lived together”, is now a permanent part of the Caracalla itinerary.
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Old house, open prayer hall in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome
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