Full Version: Pompeii Zebra Striped walls
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
In Mary Beard's latest book on Pompeii, she mentions 'zebra striped wall decorations', citing a research paper by Crispin Goulet. [url:14xb23bq][/url]

I have never heard or seen this in any Pompeii book. Any idea what this might look like?
I received a reply from the researcher of the zebra stripes in Pompeii, who gave me leave to post her email to me. It is another instance of something we reinvented from Rome:

Quote:Your work sounds very interesting, and I am so happy that you are considering the zebra stripes in your recreations of house exteriors at Pompeii. They will be more realistic, in this way. Again, thank you!

I am thrilled to help. I must say, before I talk about my research and photos, that the design was used only in a few instances on house exteriors. It was usually used on the interior of homes (in passageways and stairways).

The results of my research showed that, no matter where the stripes appeared, the areas so decorated shared the characteristics that they were highly frequented areas, transitional spaces, were dark, and were in some way hazardous to the pedestrian: either curved, involving stairs, or inclines. The stripes were made to look like imitation marble panels, but also helped to brighten the area with the use of such stark patterning of black and white...we still use the same panels on our roads today, for the same reasons! I found a beautiful passage in Vitruvius that talks about painted decoration on the interior of buildings, and he grouped the same type of areas together (inclines, curves, etc.), saying that these areas were dangerous for the pedestrian and in need of more light. So! It seems to make sense.

In any case, when the stripes appeared on the exterior of homes, I found that the same was usually true. In other words, the zebra stripes appeared on a facade:

1) on an inclined street
2) on a house facade that was covered by a large projecting balcony

So, please do keep those parameters in mind when doing your recreations, and the result will be very accurate.

The results of my research were published in English (with photographs) in the Italian periodical Rivista di Studi Pompeiani, Vol. XII (2003). It might be easiest for you to access that paper directly. The bigger university libraries should carry it.

I am going to give you below, however, the data on the only two house facades that I found while cataloguing, hoping that it will help.

Other than the article, I could send you my entire research and catalog, or the abridged paper that I delivered to the AIA.

Unfortunately, my research was done 10 years ago, before the easy use of digital photos and computers. In addition, I am currently in Italy, and all of my research photos are in the States, so I fear that I am unable to help you at the moment with photos. Again, perhaps easiest to access the article.

In any case, here is the data from the catalog where the zebra stripes were found on house exteriors. There are only two. The first is in Pompeii, the second at Herculaneum.

One other very interesting thing. Though I only found two instances where the stripes were recongnizable, most facades were very faded. What I want to say is that when the zebra stripes faded within their panels (as I saw in some areas of the two homes I did find so decorated), the result of the faded panel was exactly like the usual red panel exterior that had faded. My point is that, though I only found two examples, there may have originally been many more exteriors so painted but now unidentifiable. I would love to look at the portions of Pompeii that are still unexcavated!

Best wishes and please let me know if I can be of further help. Thanks again, so much, for your message. I would love to see your final results!

House of Marcus Lucretius Fronto V.4.11:

House Exterior

Walls Decorated with the Design: To my knowledge at the time, only west exterior wall, to

right of entrance

Number of Panels: Two partial panels

Height and Width of Panels: 144 cm high; 105-7 cm wide

Width of Bands/Ribbons: 4 cm thick (Red or yellow)

Width of Stripes: Black 4-5 cm/white 2 cm thick

Stripe Characteristics: Unknown

Stripe Directions: Diagonal, alternating by panel

Decoration on Upper Wall: White

Casa dell’Ara Laterizia (Ercolano) III.17:


Walls Decorated with the Design: East exterior wall, facing east

Number of Panels: One partial panel, appears to right of entrance

Height and Width of Panels: 178 cm high (but includes bench of 33 cm)/431 cm wide

Width of Bands/Ribbons: Black bands 3 cm thick

Width of Stripes: Black 2-3 cm/white 4-5 cm thick

Stripe Characteristics: Wavy

Stripe Directions: Diagonal, left to right from top to bottom, very parallel

Decoration on Upper Wall: White

Ceiling Type: Area covered by projecting second storey
Thanks! I was quite intrigued by your first post but wasn't able to find anything googling. I'm glad you followed up.
I have been trying to find the following periodical in the local univ libraries, but have not had any luck yet. Anyone have this in their libraries?

Quote:the Italian periodical Rivista di Studi Pompeiani, Vol. XII (2003)
Managed to get one image: note the red, black and white stripes by the stairs:

[Image: zebrastripes-1.jpg]
I made a quick impression of the zebra stripes; the author said the top band should be narrow red as the central stripe is, and it should be have a similar red band on the outside borders.

Also, you can see the PVC frame for the caupona redesign. So far, looks is superior to doing the caupona or any civilian structure in wood.

[Image: 7ftcauponawithextension.jpg]