1902 Encyclopedia > Architecture > Pompei Architecture: Introduction; Streets; Shops.

(Part 77)

Pompei Architecture: Introduction; Streets; Shops.

In Pompeii we may see the domestic as well as public architecture of ancient Rome, although it must be remembered that Pompeii was a Greek colony, and that it was destroyed as early as 79 A.D. We have, therefore, probably to expect more Greek character than would be met with elsewhere.

The streets of Pompeii are very narrow, their average width being not more than 12 or 15 feet; frequently they are not more than 8 feet wide, and very few in any part exceed 20. The principal excavated street in the city, that leading from the Forum to the gate towards Herculaneum, and the street of the tombs, is, at the widest, 23 feet 6 inches, including two footways, each 5 feet wide. The streets are all paved with lava, and almost all have side pavements or footways, which, however, are for the most part so narrow, that, with few exceptions, two persons cannot pass on them. That the cars or carriages of the inhabitants could not pass each other in most of the streets, is proved by the wheel-ruts which have been worn on the stones, and the recesses made here and there for the purpose of passing. They are lined on both sides with small cells, which served for shops of various kinds; and they are strikingly like the ordinary shops in towns in the south of Italy and in Sicily at the present time (Plate XVII. Fig. 1). They resemble these, too, in this respect, that there appear in very few cases to be accommodations in connection with the shops for the occupiers and their families, who must have lived elsewhere, as modern Italian shopkeepers very commonly do. They present no architectural decoration whatever; the fronts are merely plain stuccoed brick walls, with a large square opening in each, part of which is the door, and part the window, for lighting the place and showing the goods.

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