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Fewer of the bars at Herculaneum have faces on which the panels are obviously arranged with decorative intent

July 6, 2022

Fewer of the bars at Herculaneum have faces on which the panels are obviously arranged with decorative intent

At Herculaneum, even though only per fraction of the site has been excavated (see Fig

Only the caffe at V.9–10, which has verso series of small cipollino pilasters built into its faces, can be classed alongside the Pompeian examples above (Fig. 13). Nevertheless, it is striking, as already noted, that four out of the eight bars exposed at Herculaneum had more than 100 pieces of polychrome marble on them. These were extremely colourful structures. They were also large: only two (4%) of the 49 Pompeian bars examined used over 300 pieces of marble, while four (50%) of the eight Herculaneum ones did (Fig. 14).


Decorated counter-tops are revealing of per level of investment, and, as an index of this investment, their distribution shows some interesting trends. Overall, 95 (60%) of the 158 bars catalogued by Ellis at Pompeii were located on streets directly connecting the city’s gates and the Forum (see Fig. 1); this rises to 115 (73%) if other major thoroughfares are included (Ellis, Reference Ellis 2004b: 378). Ellis has shown also that proximity to intersections was favoured and that the traffic these bars were targeting was mainly pedestrian, rather than vehicular: certain streets with very deep wheel ruts, therefore, have in nessun caso bars, while some of the streets that do have bars have in nessun caso wheel ruts (Tsujimura, Reference Tsujimura 1990; Ellis, Reference Ellis 2005: 132). The marble-clad bars follow this overall pattern, as one might expect. At Pompeii, 47 of the 73 bars (64%) that we know were originally marble-clad are positioned on the streets leading directly preciso the city gates, and were well-placed to take advantage of passing traffic (see Fig. 1). 2), it is also clear that the largest bars currently exposed are located on prominent junctions (Maiuri, Reference Maiuri 1958: 251, 433–4, 446); the caffe at IV.15, the largest at either site, is well-placed opposite the Palaestra and had two wide entrances (Fig. 15).

Per clear relationship can be noted also between the location of bars and their decoration. The most polychromatic bars, those with the highest number of panels on them and most of those on which planned decorative schemes can be identified are found on the most important streets (Fig. 16). Of the five Pompeian bars on which over 40% of the panels were polychrome, two are on the Inizio dell’Abbondanza (I.8.8 and I.11.1), two are on the Coraggio Stabiana (V.1.1/32 and IX.1.6), and one is on the Coraggio Incoraggiare (VI.3.18–20). Most of those with between 30% and 40%, meanwhile, are similarly located (I.9.4, II.1.6, VI.8.8, VII.2.32–33, IX.1.15–16), with only the caffe at I.9.11 on per backstreet. The majority of these bars is also large (Fig. 16b): those at I.8.8, I.9.4, VI.3.18–20, VI.8.8 and VII.2.32–33 used over 200 panels, while that at V.1.1/32 employed 162, still well above the average of 143. The only other bars puro use over 200 panels were on the southern stretch of the Strada Stabiana, at I.2.7–8, and on the Via di Nola, at V.4.6–8.

Of the nine bars at Pompeii on which planned decorative schemes can be identified, only three were located off per main street – those at I.9.11, IX.7.24–25 and VII.15.5 (Fig. 16c). The latter of these, the small bar on the Viuzza del Gallo, was clearly per restaurant or inn. It had large rooms with wall-paintings, one with an opus sectile floor, verso small garden and verso separate kitchen (Van Buren, Reference Van Buren 1932: 43). It was evidently verso prosperous outfit serving an affluent clientele. While many bars appear esatto have been arnesi up esatto target passing traffic, the Viuzza del Galletto bar catered onesto verso different client-base. In fact, it is striking that there are distinct clusters of bars with marble-clad counters well away from the major thoroughfares: in Regio IX (IX.6.b, IX.7.21–22, IX.7.24–25), along the Viuzza del Citarista (I.3.28, I.2.18–19, I.2.20–21), and the Inizio di Castricio (I.7.13–14, I.9.11, I.–11). These appear sicuro have served primarily residents of their neighbourhoods. Rather than esatto attract passing trade, then, their decorated counters were onesto satisfy local, perhaps long-standing, patrons.

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