Gardens in Pompeii. Podcast episode shownotes.

Pompeii expert Dr Jess Venner.

I hope you enjoyed the discussion and the insight Jess was able to give.

Jessica Venner is an AHRC-M3C funded Doctoral Researcher at the University of Birmingham studying Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology. Her thesis is on the subject of subsistence and commercial food cultivation in the urban gardens of Pompeii.

Jessica previously undertook an MA in Classical Civilisation at Birkbeck, part of the University of London, and is an Editor for the Gardens of the Roman Empire online appendices (a follow up to the print version published in 2018). Recently, Jess was on the team responsible for mapping all gardens in Pompeii. She previously held a professional post at the British School at Rome in London, and currently volunteers at the Chiltern Open Air Museum, the Ashmolean Museum, and Waddesdon Manor in Aylesbury.

If you want to find her here’s her twitter (@missjlvenner). The website I mentioned which detailed the gardens of the Roman Empire.

Pompeii Houses.

Here’s a really good video which takes you on a virtual tour through the House of Sallust in Pompeii. It gives a brief into on Pompeii and then the tour including names of rooms you would have heard on the episode.

Gardens of Pompeii.

Here’s a wonderful picture of a Pompeii garden by Karin.

This is a reconstruction of a peristyle garden at Pompeii (source). Peristyle walls were often where the frescoes were found. Below is from the House of the Vetti.


These are stunning so here are some of the ones spoken about.

This is Venus who doesn’t seem particularly enamoured. The pose is awkward, perhaps not helped by the artist’s handling of the human figure. Still much better than anything I could do though!

Above is the fresco in context, it was a scene which dominated the garden. Photo source here.

Gardens were a place where the fantastic could be imagined as real. Egypt featured as a real location but still an exotic one. Scenes of the Nile featured in the House of the Ephebe  and I wonder how many conversations were had either scrutinising or debating the scenes. These images weren’t on a wall but low down on bases for couches where people could recline to eat outside in the summer (a triclinium, though these were often indoors).

Here are the frescoes on the triclinium. They aren’t easy to make out and are on the lower part of the couch bases. If you were dining here you’d be lying on your side with what looks like a fountain as a centrepiece.

In the House of the Golden Bracelet a more realistic scene was on offer with an array of birds.

This site identified the more natural scene and identified each bird, fantastic work there! Btw, you can read about a temple to an Egyptian deity at Pompeii here.


I mentioned the House of Octavius Quartio and the water channel (euripius). This is an illustration by Jean-Claude Golvin. Jessica made a really interesting comment about the water channel having holes for fish to hide in. Must have been a beautiful place to walk.

Reading List.

Pompeii, Mary Beard (a great book on every area of Pompeii).

The introduction of Citrus in Italy with reference to the identification problem
of seed remains. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany · January 2013. Cle´mence Pagnoux • Alessandra Celant •Sylvie Coubray • Girolamo Fiorentino •Veronique Zech-Matterne

Marcoremains of citrus fruit in Italy. Alessandra Celant, Girolamo Fiorentino.

Supplying Demand: Rise of the Opportunistic Garden in first century AD Pompeii, Jessica Venner.

Produce Gardens, Wilhelmina F Jashemski

Carbonized food plants of Pompeii, Herculaneum and the villa at Torre Annuziata, Frederich G Meyer

Natural History, Pliny the Elder

On Agriculture, Cato

On the Laws, Cicero



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