The use of marble in the public places and in the dwellings of Pompeii was common and it gave to the public and private buildings where it was used for, a beautiful impact and a feeling of richness.
Marble is a valuable material. It was used for covering the steps of the Great Theatre, during its last renovation under the rule of the Augustus emperor. Conversely, for its original construction the Samnites used a less expensive and more available material.
Actually, now as in the past, the first rule in the choice of the building materials is to select the more available ones, so that the effect of the transport cost is the lowest. That is why in Pompeii there is a large use of lava stone, tuff and travertine. But the archaeological surveys found out that in Pompeii the marble was used much for public buildings. The marble was originally used a lot (but not always it has been found, because it was removed and used again) in the coverings of the walls of public buildings, such as the Terme Stabiane (Stabian Baths) and in the villas, such as the Villa of Diomede (one of the most majestic residences of Pompeii, second only to the Villa of the Mysteries, with more than 3,500 square meters of marble and gardens on the sea). The marble was used also for the rich decorations of thresholds, steps, sculptures and tombs (like the one discovered the last July at Porta Stabia). Also worthy of mention is the Fontana del Gallo, a splendid public marble fountain which takes its name from the bas-relief depicting the bird. It is located at the southwest corner of the neighborhood that houses the Sailor's House, not far from the entrance of this wealthy house: it is very likely, therefore, that the fountain was built thanks to the patronage of the owner of the domus.
A particular research reviewed the House of Julius Polybius (Regio IX), with the façade overlooking Via dell’Abbondanza, and the tubs in the garden of the House of the Vettii. The studies of the decoration in white or coloured marble found in Pompeii lead to the classification of 36 kinds of marbles, imported from North Africa, the Greek Islands and Asia Minor. So, the marble was without doubts, at the time, a remarkable sign of richness and social relevance of the owners of the richest houses in Pompeii.
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Staff at Flashback Journey to Pompeii. Our goal is to bring you up-to-date information on events, continuing archeological excavations and more on Pompeii.