chapter  22
11 Pages

REAL AND PAINTED (IMITATION) MARBLE AT POMPEII

ByJ. Clayton Fant

Imported “marble” (any fine stone capable of taking a high polish)1 from theHellenistic East began to come to Rome in the late second century BC, but it was not until the late first century that small quantities came to Pompeii and the cities of Vesuvius. The history of marble at Pompeii is difficult to recover because marble is scarce there, partly because of two centuries of renovation and redecoration and post-eruption salvaging parties, and partly because it always was scarce. In the case of luxury goods, scarcity is foremost a state of mind; when one variety becomes common, taste shifts to rarer options. Painted imitation marble in wall painting provides a parallel stream of evidence for house owners whose aspirations were not restricted by cost or availability.2