After 30 years, at the Caracalla Baths, a rich fresco from the Hadrian period is once again visible to the public.
TO Romethat Caracalla’s thermal baths expand their visiting path, thanks to commitment and work from Special Superintendent of Romwhich reopens the environment for one domus from Hadrian’s period suggests an important news. In the large fresco, visitors will be able to admire two superimposed decorations: the first, typical of Hadrian’s age, depicts architectural perspectives populated by human figures, statues, lush cats; about fifty years later, the second presents figures of deities from the Greco-Roman and Egyptian pantheon.
The fresco, which can be visited again after about thirty years, belonged to a luxurious domus from Hadrian’s age, which, to make room for the mighty basic terracing of the large complex of the Caracalla baths in 206 AD. was partially destroyed and covered with earth along to the entire neighborhood adjacent to Porta Capena. Discovered during the excavations carried out between 1858 and 1869 by the Honorary Inspector of Ancient Monuments Giovan Battista Guidi on the south-east side of the spa, the building, despite the ancient spoilage, preserved the image and mosaic decoration apparatus, part of which is in the opus sectile. The 1970 building, which was re-covered, was the subject of new investigations, which lasted five years, when the inspectorate removed and secured some frescoes belonging to two rooms, including those that are now on display again.
Thanks to the excavations in the 70s of last century, it was also possible to establish that the complex had been developed in at least two floors, had undergone renovations, extensions with changes of intended use and re-recordings of the decorations. In addition, the discovery of a shop next to the vestibule, of an independent staircase leading from the outside to the upper floors and the development of the building on the south side, led to the hypothesis that the building had been transformed by the renovation into an island with apartments on the floors, upper middle class and a stately domus on the ground floor and first floor, which contained a portico-shaped courtyard and rooms arranged on three sides, including a triclinium and services that opened onto an outpatient clinic. Most of the rooms were richly decorated with frescoes with many different themes and themes. The walls were generally divided into architectural panels with human figures, insulated objects, panels with small landscape scenes, according to a style that was prevalent from the middle of the second century AD. The decorative apparatus suggests that the owners of the building belonged to a very high class. The building is one of the rare examples in Rome of this type of housing – stately domus and upper middle-class apartments on the upper floors, as well as being a precious testimony to the topography of the area before the construction of the Baths of Caracalla.
In 1975, in order to preserve the frescoes, the supervisory authority separated the image decoration from some rooms in the domus. The frescoes that can be visited again belong to two rooms: the first dedicated to the cult is the best preserved, the second is a triclinium whose ceiling was found in collapse. Originally defined as a lararium, the first environment for a careful interpretation of the paintings seems to be a place of devotion with Roman and Oriental cults. On the walls and on the vault, there are actually two picture decorations on top of each other. The oldest dates back to the Hadrian era (134-138 AD) depicting architectural perspectives populated by human figures, statues, lush cats and Dionysian symbols that are not relevant to a place of devotion. Above the previous one, a new decoration, painted in the last decades of the 2nd century AD, preserves the traces of anthropomorphic figures in life size, identifiable with deities belonging to different religions.
In addition to Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva), we can distinguish the silhouettes of Anubis, an underworld divinity with a dog’s head, and of Isis-Demeter, with a lotus flower and feathers on her head, while her husband Serapis’s are barely visible. The coexistence of deities between two different pantheons, the Greco-Roman and the Egyptian, is an expression of the religious syncretism that had characterized Rome from its origins, and which in these decades increasingly confirmed itself in the capital of the empire, which also demonstrated by the great mithraeum built inside the Caracalla baths themselves. Simultaneously with the second decoration, a small podium was created on one wall, which probably gave this room the name lararium. A double precious environment becomes visible again: because it is characterized by two decorative phases of a period, the Hadrian-Antonine age, of which there is not much evidence in Rome, and shrouded in the mystery of the cult practiced within that. In addition to the reconstruction with the recently restored frescoes of this room, the projection of triclinium’s frescoes is exhibited for the first time. It is an expectation of the ceiling in this space dedicated to cosiness, which was found in hundreds of pieces in the excavations of the seventies of the last century and is now the subject of study, reconstruction and restoration, to be open to the public.
“The frescoes that are visible again today, he declares Daniela Porro“Special Superintendent of Rome,” belonged to a building located in a district that was destroyed in the early third century to make way for the Caracalla Baths. In this way, visitors, in addition to the beauty and interest of these paintings, will be able to understand a piece of history and the transformations of the ancient city.We also present an example: a small part of the precious ceiling in an environment that has never been exhibited before and which will soon be open to the public. element that enriches the space of the Caracalla baths, the pride of this superintendent and the city “.
“The presence in the same environment of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva along with Anubis, Isis and probably Serapis”, explains Mirella Serlorenzidirector of the baths of Caracalla, “is drawn to the religious syncretism that has been typical of ancient Rome since its founding. But the rooms we are now opening are also of great interest because they show the microcosm of a private house and macrocosm. in a large imperial facility, the Caracalla Baths, at a distance of a few meters.A comparison full of suggestions that make us present a small preview of the ceiling in another room in the domus, Triclinium now the subject of studies and research for its overall restoration.
|Rome, a fresco domus is again visible at the Caracalla Baths|
If you liked this article, subscribe to Finestre sull’Arte.
at a cost of 12.00 euros per year you will have unlimited access to the articles published on the Finestre sull’Arte website and you will help us grow and keep our information free and independent.
WINDOWS ON ART