Samuli Simelius

Doctoral Researcher

University of Helsinki, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies.

Mr Simelius is currently working on his dissertation on the Pompeian peristyles, which was also the subject of his Master’s thesis (in Finnish).  He has been working as a research assistant in the Finnish Pompeii project (Expeditio Pompeiana Universitatis Helsingiensis).

One of the important representative areas inside Roman domus is the portico (or peristylium), usually situated in the back of the house, farther away from the main entrance than front hall (or atrium). It is traditionally believed that this Greek origin colonnaded courtyard was introduced relatively late in the Roman private architecture in contrast to the atrium, which was typical for the old Italic house. It has been said that the airy and well-lit peristyle replaced atrium as the focus of the domus in the Imperial time, when the social role of head of the household (paterfamilias) diminished.[1] This, however, is not the case in Pompeii, where in A.D. 79 atria were still being built and used as had been done during several generations. This is one of the reasons why the role of peristyle needs to be reassessed using evidence on large scope.

The focus of the research is on the decoration and in the art, which is in the Pompeian peristyles. Simelius will study the architectural structure of the peristyle and its place in the house. He will build a picture of the resident or the owner on the basis of the peristyle and compare the picture to that what we know about the resident or presumed resident of the house considering the problems of the residents in the Pompeii. He will also consider and study the problematic evolution of the peristyle in the Pompeii. Fortunately there are a rising number of new excavations concerning the levels before the 79, like the Casa del Granduca Michele. There is an excavation in which Mr Simelius took part in October 2010 in the peristyle of this house where there was exposed the earlier peristyle.[2]

He spent the academic year 2010-2011 studying in the University of the Naples (Orientale) and will continue his studies there also in the academic year 2011-2012, visiting the excavations of Pompeii and the archives of the excavations of Pompeii (SANP). This will help him to collect the information which is not in the published literature. During the last academic year Mr Simelius was able to collect almost all the information from the site of Pompeii. The next year he will be working mainly in the archives. The sources are mainly archeological, the peristyles of the private houses of the Pompeii, though in the questions of the habitants of the houses the inscriptions will be crucial.

[1] L. Farrar Ancient Roman Gardens 1998. P. Grimal Les jardins romains 1984. J. Wakter Graham “Origins and Interrelations of the Greek House and the Roman House”, Phoenix 20:1 (1966), 3–31.


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