Saturday, August 04, 2012

Raising the roof on the House of the Telephus Relief

We are proud to share with you the first published photos of the House of the Telephus Relief atHerculaneum since archaeologists started their reconstruction of its wooden roof and completed studies of its decorated ceiling.

The roof had been swept off by the force of the eruption when Vesuvius blew its top in AD 79, landing upside-down four floors below its original position on what was once the beach below (see CWA #42 and #51). The air-tight seal created by the volcanic ash created an ideal environment in which to preserve the timber.

The House of the Telephus Relief, a grandiose residence, is believed to have been built for Marcus Nonius Balbus, the Roman governor of Crete and an area that today forms part of Libya.

Its extravagant decorations make it one of the most prestigious houses in the city, and one that once would have enjoyed spectacular views across the Bay of Naples. On the top floor, the sumptuous dining room with marble wall and floors, was surrounded by a terrace and topped by the multicoloured and gilded wooden ceiling.