Blogging from A to Z: V is for Villa of Mysteries

Just outside the city walls of Pompeii, if you exit via what is now called the Herculaneum gate, lies a construction that archaeologists have deemed the Villa of Mysteries. While it was buried in ash, the villa sustained very little damage when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE. The owner of the sprawling suburban villa is unknown, but a statue of Livia (the wife of Augustus, the first emperor) has led to speculation that it belonged to her.

The house is made of stucco-faced concrete, as evidenced by the curved vaulting and opus reticulatum construction; in some places you can see where the stucco has fallen away and the regularly formed bricks inserted into concrete are visible. The house has a barrel vault that goes all the way around the bottom, and lifts it up for what would have been spectacular views of the sea. (The original name of the Herculaneum gate was Porta Saliensis, which meant it was the gateway to the sea.) The shoreline was much closer in 79 CE than it is today.

The house gets its moniker from a series of paintings in what was either a triclinium (dining room) or a very large bedroom; they appear to depict the complete cycle o a woman being initiated into a Dionysian mystery cult.

(Photos by the author.)


10 thoughts on “Blogging from A to Z: V is for Villa of Mysteries

  1. That is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this post. I love learning about places I’ve never been.
    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author


    1. That eruption was a curse to the towns, and blessing to historians and archaeologists. We really are fortunate to get so much information about life in ancient Rome due to these sites. Thanks for stopping by today!


  2. The degree of preservation is unbelievable! I have enjoyed this insight into your research and will continue to dip into it. I was wondering what your view of publishing works in progress episodically in a blog is?


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the series!

      You know, I occasionally publish samples of my works in progress, with the caveat that many things are likely to change by the time publication rolls around. About the first third of my first novel was shared with a Livejournal (remember that?) group with an interest in the subject matter. So, as you can see I’m okay with the idea.

      Thank you again for stopping by!


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