Traditional Roman buildings in Herculaneum
and Pompeii consisted of two parts. One was made of
living quarters while another part part was a small open garden
that was knows as hortus. Small open area was often
surrounded by a peristyle of roofs that stood on row of columns.
The central part of the Roman homes were usually taken by an
atrium. It was a traditional center of the household. Originally
it was a living room, master bedroom, but over time it gained a
symbolic meaning for a family. Romans kept a bed here as a
symbol of sanctity of marriage. It was used during wedding
ceremonies. It was a small area with an opening in the roof on
top. Rain water would be collected in the small reflective pool
(known as impluvium) in the center of the room. During
water overflow excessive water was collected in the underground
tank. The layout of the whole was generally designed around this
central area. Ancient residences had few windows open to the busy
and loud streets and the whole design was intended to keep noise
and people out rather than show its opulence or wealth.
The Tablinum was part of the private residence that was used for several
purposes by different families. Some apparently used it as a
reception room, other transformed this land into office or study
room for the head of the family. Bedrooms (Latin term
cubiculum) and private rooms like dining rooms (triclinium)
were mostly situated on the second floor.
Several houses were transformed over time. Many house owners
lost money after hitting economic hardships and had to rent out
parts of the apartment. Separate entrances were constructed for
people who rented these rooms so they could come and leave
whenever they felt it without bothering the landlord.