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Oplontis is an archeological site, south of Naples. The site is localted in modern-day Torre Annunziata. Like other sites in the region, it was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The excavated site comprises two Roman villas, the better-known of which is Villa A, the so-called Villa Poppaea.

Like the nearby towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Oplontis was buried in ash during the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.[1] However, the force of the eruption was even stronger than at these cities as not only roofs collapsed, but walls and columns were broken and pieces thrown sideways.[2]

Villa A[change | change source]

Villa Poppea. The hgher ground visible in the background is a result of the eruption of Vesivius, 79 AD.
Villa A or Villa Poppea, with modern-day Torre Annunziata in the background.

The first villa, called villa A, or later Villa Poppea is very big and richly decorated. Domenico Fontana, descovered it in 1593 -1600 when he constructed the Sarno aqueduct. The oldest part of this villa date to around 50 BC. The villa was badly< damged in the AD 62 Pompeii earthquake, and later rebuilt. When Vesivius eruped in 79 Ad,Villa A was problably still being rebuilt. Very likely, no one lived there.

Villa B[change | change source]

A second villa, Villa B, was discovered in 1974, 300 metres (980 ft) east of Villa A,[3] during the construction of a school. The villa was partially excavated until 1991.

In contrast to the sumptuously decorated Villa Poppaea, Villa B is much smaller and has buch less decoration. Villa B is a rustic, two-story structure with many rooms left unplastered and with tamped earth floors. The structure's plan reveals a central courtyard surrounded by a two-story peristyle of Nocera tufa columns. Nevertheless, more than seventy rooms were found on both ground and second-story levels. On the ground floor all four sides of the courtyard have barrel-vaulted rooms in opus incertum and opus reticulatum.[4]

A bronze seal bearing the name of L. Crassius Tertius was found at the site.

It was built at the end of the 2nd c. BC. The complex was part of a wider settlement built before the construction of neighbouring Villa A.

This villa was not deserted at the time of the eruption: the remains of 54 people were recovered in one of the rooms of the villa. Therse people died in the surge that hit Oplontis. They were split into two groups, one group with fine jewellery, silverware, and coins and another one without.

Recent archaeology has shown that it suffered unique type of destruction because of its proximity to the sea, different from Pompeii or Herculaneum. The volcanic eruption generated a pyroclastic flow that sped down the mountain toward Oplontis. The impact of the flow on the sea surface led to a type of "tsunami" which caused the violent entry and deposition of a water-heavy layer in the barrel-vaulted rooms (similar to the deposit that buried the skeletons on the shore of Herculaneum). The people sheltering at Oplontis died beneath a mixed mass of superheated gas, ash, and water. The impact of the wave probably also caused the collapse of the barrel-vaults.[5]

Some of the rooms seem to have been used for manufacturing, and others were storerooms, while the upper floor contained the living quarters of the house. These circumstances, along with more than 400 amphorae recovered in the excavations, indicate the property was devoted to the production of wine, oil, and agricultural goods. The discovery of a series of weights seems to confirm this; a bronze seal found at the site preserved the name of Lucius Crassius Tertius. This was probably its last owner.

The southern part of the upper floor is perhaps the owner's living quarters, as some rooms are decorated with paintings in the Fourth Style, and there is also a rare example of a second style painting from the Republican era.

A rare very ornate strongbox was found in the peristyle, perhaps fallen from the upper floor, containing over 200 coins, jewellery, and a seal ring. It was finely decorated with inlay in silver, copper, and gilded bronze typical of late Hellenistic design, and it had a complex locking system that was still used in the 19th century.

A sophisticated water drainage system was added late in the villa's history. At the north of the site the ground floor rooms were reconfigured and the street repaved.[6]

Other websites[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Oplontis". Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  2. Oplontis: Villa A ("of Poppaea") at Torre Annunziata, Italy. John R. Clarke and Nayla K. Muntasser, c2014. p 771-
  3. "Villa B". 15 February 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  4. Oplontis. Villa rustica di Lucius Crassius Tertius. Pompeii in Pictures. Accessed 2022-12-10.
  5. First Results of Three Seasons of Excavation at Oplontis B (2016-18), Ivo Van der Graaff – Michael L. Thomas – Paul Wilkinson – Jennifer L. Muslin – John R. Clarke – Nayla K. Muntasser – Giovanni Di Maio, The Journal of Fasti Online (ISSN 1828-3179) http://www.fastionline.org
  6. The Oplontis Project 2012-13: A Report of Excavations at Oplontis B1 Michael L Thomas - Ivo van der Graaff - and Paul Wilkinson, The Journal of Fasti Online (ISSN 1828-3179)