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Sculptural Furnishing and Architectural Decoration of the Villa A in Oplontis

[This content is not available in "Englisch" yet] Im Depot von Oplontis. Bildnachweis: Foto Caterina Parigi.

The two villas A and B in Oplontis at the Gulf of Naples have been systematically excavated since 1967 and by now a series of preliminary reports have been published. The most interest was on the elaborately decorated Villa A that was identified as the Villa of Empress Poppaea (ca. 30-65 BC), the wife of Nero, by the excavator Alfonso de Franciscis. An intensive discussion about the ownership has brought up good arguments that the villa belonged to the property of the Family of Poppaea that is accounted for in Pompeii. Direct evidence that the villa belonged to the imperial property could not be produced.

The past investigations have shown that the villa A was not inhabited when it was covered in the year 79 BC but prepared for remodeling. Apparently, according to the findings, the sculptural furnishing was also supposed to be renewed as a part of the remodeling. A group of marble statuettes showing centaurs was removed from its location in the northern gardens of the western area and deposited in the garden porticus “in expectation of second use” (V. Kockel). In the eastern tract of the building, numerous sculptures could be recovered in situ, although some empty pedestals hint ongoing remodeling.


The research on the “Villa of Poppaea” so far has mostly focused on the wall painting and the garden design. A detailed photographical documentation of the sculpture and discussion is yet to be done. Repair works that could be discovered on the sculpture, make them even more interesting because they give information on possible reuse. The architectural ornaments from marble (ca. 30 capitals and capital fragments, 9 column bases, several cornice and column fragments) are also not yet recorded. These as well are to be recorded photographically and published in a catalogue. More information on phases and remodellings of the Villa A are to be expected by this.

Dr. Caterina Parigi is a scientific employee of this project.


Scientific Staff:


  • Parco Archeologico di Pompei