Insula Attributes

Additional information was developed from the orthographic elevation background drawings and the names catalogue in order to quantify and summarize physical characteristics of the city blocks and their structures.  The data were organized in tables to provide quantitative details that are complimentary to the photomosaics.

Measurements – All current and previous regio and insula numbers were collected from the address plaques on the ends of each city block, and verified from maps published by the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei.  The addresses were entered into tables for the north and south sides of the street in sequential order, from west to east beginning at the forum.

158 measuring dThe lengths of all the insulae were obtained from the survey elevation CAD drawings.  The lengths of all of the insulae were also hand measured with a 50-meter tape in 2008.  The objective was to identify any significant discrepancies and investigate the accuracy of the survey data and background drawings.  The differences between the lengths taken from the control background elevation drawings and those obtained by hand measurement were calculated to be between 0 and 6 cm over city block lengths that varied between 32 and 147 meters.  All disparities were less than 0.12% of the length of the individual blocks.  All measurements were entered into the tables.

The names of all cross streets were obtained from maps published by the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei.  Some streets have official names, some are unnamed and others have never been excavated.  The widths of all cross streets were hand measured in 2008. All names and measurements were entered into the tables.

Links to the Measurement tables are below and in the menu to the left:

The following is derived from these measurements:

  • Between the forum and two blocks east of via Stabiana, the city blocks are generally between 50 and 70 meters in length without an obvious repeatable pattern.
  • The third block east of via Stabiana is about 40 meters long on both the north and south sides.
  • Between the fourth and eleventh blocks east of via Stabiana the lengths are consistently 32 to 35 meters.
  • The last two blocks before the Sarno Gate on the south side are about 70 meters in length.  It is not possible to determine the number of blocks on the north side because of the deteriorated state of the excavations.
  • The long length of the blocks between the forum and via Stabiana would have been compatible with a grand approach to the civic center of the city.
  • The center section of the street was laid out in a very regular pattern.
  • The long length of the blocks close to the Sarno Gate would have been compatible with the agricultural facilities that have been attributed to the area.

Facility Classification – There are 259 doorways on via dell’Abbondanza that access a variety of facilities.  In order to better understand the activities and enterprises along the entire street, the entrances were grouped into eight categories:

  • Public Building – Communal use facilities
  • Atrium House – Elite residences
  • House/Apartment – Smaller residential units
  • Retail/ Trade – Shops and other commercial facilities
  • Workshop/Industrial - Workspaces
  • Hospitality – Inns, eating and/or drinking establishments
  • Porter/Stair/Misc. – Entrances and blocked entrances not belonging to other categories
  • Agriculture – Vineyards or similar

The structures were assigned to a category based upon the information collected in the Names Catalogue, which varied from very specific to ambiguous.  Also, some building units had multiple uses such as shops with apartments on the floor above.  In these cases, a judgment was made as to the primary function of the facility on the ground level.  Because of the lack of upper stories on most of the building remains, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about their existence, configuration or use.  However, the architectural evidence, such as stairs, floor joist seats and toilet downpipes, certainly shows that many buildings had upper floors, and strongly indicates residential use.

The following table summarizes the classification of the facilities:

Facility Classification North Side South Side Total Street
Public Building 3 1 4
Atrium House 10 29 39
House/Apartmant 17 8 25
Retail/Trade 53 56 109
Workshop/Industrial 19 18 37
Hospitality 9 18 27
Porter/Stair/Misc 6 9 15
Agriculture 2 1 3
Total 119 140 259

The following observations can be made about these statistics:

  • There are a wide variety of facilities along via dell’Abbondanza.
  • Over 40% of the structures are retail or commercial.
  • Almost 25% of the structures are residential (atrium houses, other houses and apartments)
  • About 14% of the structures are workspaces for crafts and light industrial purposes.
  • Over 10% of the structures are devoted to food, drink or lodging.
  • The agricultural properties are located close to the Sarno Gate.
  • There do not seem to be specific zones of activity (industrial, elite residential, etc.).  To the contrary, retail, industrial and hospitality facilities are intermixed or directly associated with residential properties.

Links to the two Facility Classification tables are below and in the menu at the top of the page:

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