Stores, warehouses and workshops line the streetfronts, displaying varying examples of construction and architecture. Crowded shops, houses and workshops back onto one another, each struggling for the small amount of space available.
A 'fullonicae' (place for the treatment of cloth) is on the right and demonstrates the extent and importance of textiles in the economy. Several bakeries and grain mills are located along the way and, due in part to the restoration efforts in this area; the huge ovens appear almost ready to bake a fresh batch of bread. In many cases, warehouses are attached to the shops where grains, materials and other supplies are stockpiled. Still other shops have family living quarters or apartments at the back or above linking the family with the demands of work. Generally, those shops with the living quarters attached are the more modern homes and the larger the living space, the more modern the building.
Further along the street, row after row of warehouses provides storage for local supplies, goods and exports; thereby affirming the excellent wealth and trade of the area. Pompeii also had a wealth of hotels, rooms to rent private baths and gambling dens. Several buildings bear inscriptions or advertisements offering them for sale or available. Many 'thermopile,' refreshment rooms also dot the street. Equivalent to our modern day bars, they are intended to serve drinks to patrons and offer a place of relaxation and comfort. The thermopile are easily recognized by their holes evenly spaced along the counters to hold amphoarae.
Signs outside the shops are often painted pictures, depicting the activity carried out therein, and often the name of the business owner. Early forms of graffiti are also seen as we note that many of the houses are dotted with inscriptions of public announcements of performances, advertisements and electoral propaganda messages.
As we walk the street, we note the very large stones placed crosswise in the streets. These stones provided the ancient pedestrian crossings. They enabled the citizenry to cross the streets during rainy periods and avoid getting their feet wet. Statuary and fountains enhance the the thoroughfare as it leads to the crossroads of the Amphitheatre and the forum.
by Barb B
Napa, CA and Hereford, AZ , Arizona
October 20, 2000
From journal Pompeii- Echoes from the past