chapter  4
12 Pages


ByChristopher Parslow

Mau-Kelsey remains a fundamental resource on the buildings in Pompeii dedicatedto public entertainment since no complete archaeological investigations of these buildings were undertaken in the twentieth century. All, however, have been the subject of individual studies devoted to the epigraphical evidence and analysis of the standing structures. In 1906, Mau published a detailed study of the theater, while Girosi treated the architecture of the amphitheater in 1932.1 In the late 1940s and the 1950s, Spano wrote essays on the amphitheater as well as the theatrum tectum, whose roof Murolo sought to reconstruct.2 Only a handful of soundings have been made into pre-AD 79 levels. Mau’s excavations in the orchestra of the theater revealed a series of basins evidently used for aquatic displays (sparsiones) in Imperial times while Maiuri exposed the remains of an earlier cavea.3 In the 1970s, De Franciscis laid trenches in and around the amphitheater, the results of which remain largely unpublished.4 The most significant discovery occurred in the mid-1930s when Maiuri cleared the “Palestra Grande,” a building whose existence already had been indicated by its depiction in the famous painting commemorating the riot of AD 59 in the amphitheater.5 The trend in more recent studies has been to place these monuments within their social and historical context, especially for the pivotal periods of the Sullan colony and the Augustan era, but while these may enhance and clarify the work of Mau-Kelsey, none have superseded it.6