As with modern houses, Roman ones came in a variety of sizes with floor plans of varying complexity. The scale model presented in this exhibit is based on a plan that is typical of a Roman country house or villa. With the exclusion of the stables shown at the rear of the villa, a Roman urban house was based on much the same plan.
The focal areas of the house were the atrium (A in diagram) and the peristyle (P in diagram). The atrium was the cental hall of the house, the focal point of which was the impluvium, a basin for collecting rain water from the open air ceiling and roof above. The atrium was an area used for the recieving of guests and, depending on one's wealth, was beautifully decorated with paintings and sculptures of distinguised ancestors. The atrium was surrounded by rooms with a variety of functions, the most important of which was the tablinum, an office where the owner conducted business with clients.
The peristyle was a colonnaded garden which could often be seen from the atrium of the house. The garden too was decorated with sculptures and paintings often of a more idyllic or mythological nature. The rooms off the peristyle included those for entertaining guests such as the triclinium (dining room), as well as those for resting called cubicula (bedrooms).
Most of the artefacts reproduced for this exhibit were found in Pompeii either with or in a very close proximity to Roman houses.
scale model of a roman villa
date approx. 2nd century BC and later
dimensions l 88 x w 60 x h 8 cm
by greg burke
on loan from Diefenbaker canada centre, university of saskatchewan
Plan of a Typical Roman House