In Brief

Explore a Digital Reconstruction of a Roman Banker’s Lavish Pompeii Home

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Digital reconstruction of Lucius Caecilius Jucundus’s house in Pompeii (GIF by the author via YouTube)

The house of a Roman banker known as Lucius Caecilius Jucundus was among the many in Pompeii ruined when Vesuvius erupted, but you can now examine the grand estate as it once stood intact. Researchers at Sweden’s Lund University have digitally reconstructed the building using 3D technology, creating a video that simulates the experience of walking through the home’s many interiors, once meticulously embellished.

Bronze bust of Lucius Caecilius Jucundus found in Pompeii (photo via Wikipedia) (click to enlarge)
Bronze bust of Lucius Caecilius Jucundus found in Pompeii (photo via Wikipedia) (click to enlarge)

Just partially destroyed in 79 CE, Jucundus’s house today still retains some of its foundations, walls, and even details of decoration from mosaics to carved reliefs. In 2011 and 2012, the university’s team of archaeologists used 3D scanning technology to record a city block known as Insula V as part of the Swedish Pompeii Project, a broader, 16-year-long effort to survey and document areas of Pompeii. Jucundus’s property marks their first complete detailed reconstruction of a large house.

You can find many photographs of the ruined structure online, but this new video offers a better sense of how the wealthy banker and his family may have lived nearly 2000 years ago. In it, the walls — likely about four or five meters tall — are now fully painted so you can see the ornate detail typical of the Pompeian Third Style. At the original site, many of these walls are bare, with some frescoes now residing in museums. The digital scene also illustrates the clever design of the atrium, which would allow for plenty of light to flood the space and had a pool set in its center to collect rainwater. Bright and expansive, the room would likely have often been frequented by Jucundus’s business companions from Pompeii and Rome. Digitally reconstructed details such as a yellow money chest and decorated house altar also speak to the banker’s wealthy status.

A man of Jucundus’s standing would have received many guests and likely owned many slaves; although the video reconstruction is void of people, the tour of the estate in all its extravagance invites us to consider the flurry of activity that once filled its many rooms.

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