Elaborate ‘cosmopolitan’ paintings of Egypt found in Roman villa in Pompeii
Intricate designs from Casa dell’ Efebo, which was one of the biggest homes in Pompeii before it was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, show a series of Nilotic murals with crocodiles, hippopotamuses, lotuses and short-statured men fighting with wild beasts.
Caitlin Barrett from the department of Classics at Cornell University said the drawings give the house a more cosmopolitan feel and that “The paintings from the Casa dell’ Efebo were created after Egypt was incorporated into the Roman Empire, but several generations after Augustus’ initial conquest of Egypt”.
While some archaeologists interpret the paintings as showing an interest in Egyptian religion and others as a political statement,
Barrett suggests that “instead of trying to apply a one-size-fits-all explanation, we should look at context and individual choices”.
Barrett continued: “In this particular assemblage, rather than solely trying to make some kind of statement about Isiac rituals or Roman politics, the owner of this house seems to be asserting a cosmopolitan identity as a citizen of the Empire.
In Pompeian houses at this time, when people are representing faraway lands in domestic art, they are also trying to figure out what it means to them to be participants in the Roman Empire”.
Representations of Egypt found in Pompeii