Ermak Travel Guide


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House of Venus in a Bikini

House of Venus in a Bikini



Address: Regio I, Insula 11
Area: 180 square meters
Rooms: 8




House of Venus in a BikiniThe house of Venus in Bikini was named for the statuette of the goddess Venus in a bikini. The House of Venus in a bikini is located on the south side of Via delle Abbondanza at its intersection with Vicolo della Nave Europa. The rather simple entrance (A) is currently closed and the house is therefore closed to visitors. It was discovered in 1913 following the archaeological excavations promoted by Vittorio Spinazzola: in this case, the façade was brought to light, on which some electoral posters stood out, including one where a certain Maximus was mentioned, from which the house took the name. The second phase of exploration took place between 1952 and 1954 conducted by the team of Amedeo Maiuri: the house was completely explored but there are fragmentary news on the findings as the findings were cataloged as if it were an inventory; it was following these investigations that the statue of Venus in a bikini was found who gave the final name to the house. Other explorations took place between 1955 and September 1961, but reports of the excavation are lacking: in this period the investigations were fast enough, thinking mostly to remove the pyroclastic material; in some points, the volcanic material appeared to be affected, a sign of previous tampering, before the official excavations.

The House of Venus in Bikini is sometimes called the House of Maximus after an inscription in Latin was found on the facade of the building: "Maximus Rog (at)". For some archaeologists, this inscription indicates that there lived a man with this name. However, further excavations revealed several other names of different people. It is possible that these houses were owned by several people and each left his name. However, another explanation for this fact may be that the guests of the house owner left their names on the walls of the building.




House of Venus in a Bikini  House of Venus in a Bikini

Built in the second century BC, during the first century BC the property was divided giving rise to the house in its final form. It was damaged by the earthquake of 62: restoration work began, as evidenced by the closure of a door that connected it to the nearby house of Lucius Habonius Primus and the decorations in the fourth style, but, still not completed or presumably interrupted, hypothesis supported by a graffiti found on a fresco and two broken statues, it was covered under a collection of ash and lapilli during the eruption of 79: finds of kitchen objects and skeletons suggest that the house was inhabited at the time of the eruption.


The corridor (a) in this mansion is decorated with frescoes in the fourth style with yellow panels framed by a red frame over the bottom black frieze. Yellow panels contain central medallions with the image of female heads. The home decoration was unfinished and covered in graffiti before the eruption. It is unlikely that the building was empty at the time of the death of the city. Apparently those who lived here rebuilt their mansion and the building was in a state of repair. The corridor opens into a rectangular atrium or living room (b), which has rooms on its western side and has in its center a pool-imprium for collecting rainwater. It is decorated with colored marble. On the south side of the central pooll there are three masonry supports, each of which is colored yellow with a red frame. Two shorter supports may have supported the table, while a higher central column could be intended as a pedestal for sculpture. The atrium was not covered with frescoes, which is rather strange for a living room, the walls are simply covered with a layer of coarse plaster.

In the southwest corner of the atrium, archaeologists discovered the remains of a closet in which several home artifacts and some personal items were found. Among the items found was a marble statuette of Venus in a gold bikini (after which the House in Bikini itself was named) and some gold jewelry. The statuette may have been from a closet under the stairs in the table (the house’s owner’s office), since the reports of archaeologists are rather fragmentary regarding the exact location of the find.

In the northwestern corner of the atrium there is a small cubic room (s), which, apparently, is undergoing cosmetic repairs. The existing wall surface was prepared to cover the new plaster, but this work did not begin during the eruption.

A small shop (d) in the northeast corner of the building has a large entrance from Villa del Abbondanza street and is connected to the rest of the house by two doorways in the south wall. The westernmost doorway leads directly to the atrium, while the eastern doorway connects to the small room (s), which may once be scarlet outside the atrium, but was subsequently divided. Judging by the fact that the house is connected to the store, it says that the owner of the house owned the store.

Room (s) was possibly a storeroom. The walls are covered with a layer of rough plaster, and perhaps this plaster, similar in character to the rough plaster found in the atrium, was the main layer in preparation for the final finish. The other two rooms occupy the rest of the eastern wall of the atrium. The cubiculum (f) is decorated with frescoes in the fourth style with white panels framed by a red frame over the bottom yellow decorative frieze. The larger cubic room (g) is decorated with frescoes in the fourth style with white panels with mythological scenes, accompanied by figures, above the lower red frieze.

Tablin (h) is located on the south side of the atrium, directly opposite the entrance. The room has a wide door from the atrium, and on the south wall there is a door and a window that opens into the back garden. The tablin is decorated with frescoes in the fourth style with yellow panels framed by a red frame over the bottom red frieze. Like the decoration of the atrium, the yellow panels contain the central medallions of the female heads, but the decoration also has a figured panel with the image of Dionysus and Silene. In the northwest corner, a staircase rises to the top floor.

The walled inner garden (i) retains most of its fourth-style frescoes. They are preserved on the southern and western walls. The decoration consists of frescoes with garden scenes depicting trees, birds and flowers, framed with wide yellow and red borders. On the wall in the southeast corner of the garden is a small niche.

Triclin or owner's office (j) is located on the east side of the garden. The decoration of the room consists of frescoes in the fourth style and consists of framed yellow panels on a white background with architectural motifs and figures above the lower red decorative frieze. The yellow panels contain small figures and a central mythological scene. The two surviving scenes depicts goddess Artemis with Actaeon and Paris.

The kitchen (k) could be accessed from the garden through a narrow doorway in the east wall (now blocked). The walls of the kitchen were covered with a layer of simple plaster.