Oplontis was a town near Pompeii, in the Roman Empire. On August 24, AD 79, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried it under a deep layer of ash. It is today the location of the Villa Poppaea, the villa possibly associated with the second wife of Emperor Nero, was excavated in the mid-20th century, wrapping up in 1984, and is currently open to the public. A second villa, the Villa of L. Crassius Tertius, was discovered in 1974, 300 metres east of the Villa of Poppaea, during the construction of a school. It was named following the finding of a bronze seal bearing Crassius’ name.
The name “Oplontis” most likely refers to the baths in the area of Oncino, but today the name commonly covers the group of villas in the middle of the modern town of Torre Annunziata, also known as Torre Nunziata in the local Neapolitan dialect. A large number of artifacts from Oplontis are preserved in the Naples National Archaeological Museum.
For archaeological excavations of Oplontis is a set of archaeological finds belonging to the suburban area of Oplontis Pompeii, buried along with Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae after the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD: the archaeological area is now located in the center of the modern city Torre Annunziata and includes a villa of otium called “Poppea” and a rustic villa called “B or Lucius Crassius Tertius”.
The first campaigns of excavations in oplontina were made before in the ‘700 and then during the second half of the nineteenth century, although the first systematic excavations have taken place since 1964, bringing to light the Villa di Poppea. In 1974 he was found the Villa of Lucius Crassius Tertius: To date exploration of the two structures are not over yet.
Since 1997, the archaeological area of Torre Annunziata, along with that of Pompeii and Herculaneum was included in the World Heritage List by UNESCO.
The first excavations for the recovery of the area where the ancient Oplontis, a suburban settlement of nearby Pompeii, with several shops and villas of otium, buried during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79, were conducted for the first time during the ‘700 by Francesco La Vega, who dug a tunnel near the Count of Sarno channel brought to light part of a building that was called Villa a, later Villa di Poppea: excavations were soon abandoned for unhealthy air that there was in the area. In 1839 were made other excavations brought to light the peristyle of servile district of Villa A, as well as a fountain for lack of funds the work of excavation was suspended in 1840 although, recognized the importance of the site, the remains found they were purchased by the state.A campaign was again ordered excavations began in 1964, also the site of the Villa di Poppea, where the walls and roofs and floors were restored and mosaics were lifted. During the work for the excavation of the foundations of a school, in 1974, around 250 meters from Villa it came to light a new building on two levels with a central peristyle: it is a rustic villa in which the villa was given the name Lucius Crassus Tertius or Villa B. near this villa was also found a stretch of road and several other small buildings.
In 1997 the excavations have been declared World Heritage by UNESCO. To date the excavation of the two villas are not yet finalized, hampered by lack of funds and the strong urbanization of the area.
Villa of Poppea
The villa of Poppea, at first called “Villa A”, was excavated for the first time in the ‘700 with mixed success, while a wider and systematic recovery has only had since 1968: it is a villa otium where, however, there were rooms dedicated to wine and olive oil production. The villa, dating from the first century BC and extended over claudia age, is attributed to Poppea Sabina for the inscription painted on an amphora, he addressed to a freedman of Nero’s wife; at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius, the villa was uninhabited, perhaps being restored due to the earthquake of 62 and all the objects have been found in some rooms set aside. To date the construction is not yet fully excavated: the area excavated corresponds to the east, while the main entrance and the western area are still to be recovered also hampered by the presence of a modern street and a military building.
The villa’s plant is very complex and still not yet prepared with certainty as it does not fully explored and is conventionally divided into four parts: the north, south, west and east. In the north there is a large garden in which were found several marble sculptures and it was possible to reconstruct the casts of the roots of large trees, or olive trees, although until recently it was believed could be or pomegranates or oleanders. In the south instead is another garden surrounded by a colonnade on three sides: the laurel trees were planted today, that you think were also present at the time of the eruption.
In the west there is the atrium with a compluvium nell’impluvium which collected rainwater: the decorations of the hall are second style and is very used the technique of trompe l’oeil to depict architectural environments and colonnades. The kitchen has a stone bench with an overlying shelf used as a cooking surface, while on the underside of small rooms form a semicircle probably contained firewood; a tub was probably used for the discharge of liquid. The triclinium, the area in which was probably the canteen, is adorned with a mosaic with diamond-shaped figures while in the rest of the room are found in the second style frescoes depicting gilded pillars decorated with climbing: in the decorations, a pretty still life representing a basket with figs. Here are two halls: one open to the sea with a single painted wall with representations of a sanctuary of Apollo, peacocks and theatrical masks, while in the second room, the largest, are represented a fruit basket covered with a semi-transparent veil, a cup glass containing pomegranates, a cake placed on a support and a theatrical mask. The villa was also equipped with a spa district: the calidarium has frescoed walls in the third style, where the main work is the myth of Hercules in the garden of the Esperidi; the frescoes of the tepidarium are black or dark red, as indicated by the fourth Pompeian style. In the west there is also a cubicle where he was able to get the casts of wooden door and window and a small peristyle whose walls are decorated with gray and black stripes and which has the lararium decorated in fourth style and with the beam original support located above the niche even charred.
In the east of the villa has two rooms placed in mirror image to each other: first, there are no paintings but only a marble wainscoting and an incomplete pavement with some marble tiles, a sign that the house was under renovation; The second room presents fourth-style decor. Follows a hall devoid of frescoes with the walls in white, red, yellow and black for the guests, a small viridarium with decorations in second style depicting plants, fountains and birds and two mirror halls: the first one has a semicircular niche in which it was housed a sculpture while the second is identical to the previous, with the presence of the walls marbles. The villa is finally a big swimming pool of 61 meters long and 17 wide, paved in terracotta fragments and resulted adorned the edges with marble statues, Roman era copies of Greek originals stood around a lawn with plane trees, oleanders and lemons.
Villa of Lucius Crassius Tertius
The villa of Lucius Crassius Tertius dates back to the second century B.C. and it owes its name to a bronze seal found in the building, which bears this name: discovered in 1974 as a result of the construction of a school, it is believed that it is a country house, to the type of structure that for the finds. The excavation of the villa is not finished and can not be visited.
The villa is built around a peristyle it consists of a portico with two rows of Doric columns in gray tuff around the peristyle opening of the rooms used as warehouses, where inside them were found ornaments, leather, ceramics, charred straw and a large quantity of pomegranates used for tanning leather. Moreover it was also found a stone stove with a pot containing conifer resin, used for maintenance of amphorae: in fact about 400 amphorae were in the villa during the excavations and very likely were used for the processing of agricultural products and transportation of wine. The villa was inhabited at the time of the eruption; In fact, in the adjacent rooms, featuring a vaulted ceiling, the bodies of 54 people were found in their vicinity and also jewels and coins, both in gold and silver.
The upper floor of the villa, however, was instead the residential area of the domus: the rooms are decorated in both IV Pompeian style both in the II style with schematic technique, dating back to Republican. From the top floor also comes in a wooden box containing gold and silver jewelry, 170 coins, ointment, bone splints and other jewelry: among the jewels recognize earrings-type ball clove, basket with embedded crystals or pendants with pearls , very long necklaces with beads of gold and emerald, tubular type bracelets decorated with gems and emeralds, gems and rings with smooth or engraved with animal figures or deities.
To the north of the villa there are some two-story buildings: it is probably independent solutions from the villa, which open directly onto the street. Most probably these buildings were used as workshops with houses upstairs.
Villa of Caio Siculi
Impressive villa, discovered during the excavation of the trench for the construction of the railway in continuation from Portici to Torre Annunziata, is to Caio Siculi. Riseppellita was truncated in two for that railway and the finds were transported to the Archaeological Museum of Naples. Noto the fresco depicting the myth of Narcissus and Echo with the background of Mount Parnassus.