Archival Research and Finds

The excavation of Insula 9 took place in two distinct periods. The façade along the Via dell’ Abbondanza was uncovered in 1912-14 as part of a campaign by Vittorio Spinazzola to connect the amphitheatre (one of the first parts of the town to have been excavated) with the rest of the city. These excavations were designed specifically to reconstruct systematically, and as fully as possible, the façades of the Pompeian houses, particularly the upper floors of houses with their windows, balconies, and roofs. The results were published in the Notizie degli Scavi, although the level of detail is often poor. The rest of the Insula was excavated under the direction of Amedeo Maiuri, mostly in 1951-1952.

These excavations were part of a campaign of public works: lapilli from the excavations were used in the construction of the motorway from Naples to Salerno. In order to provide the necessary lapilli, the excavations in Region I took place at an incredible speed, so that almost the entire area was finished in the space of ten years.

The result is that the records of these excavations are in the main extremely bad and completely unpublished. They are handwritten (although some months were later typed up) and can vary dramatically in quality and level of detail. Some of the houses are far better recorded than others. Despite this, a close study of the documentary evidence gives some clues about the condition of the different structures within Insula 9 at their time of excavation, which can help us to understand their probably condition in AD79. This kind of information aids the analysis of the architectural remains today. The excavation reports also record over 5,000 artefacts from the houses of Insula 9, including vessels, lamps, tools, jewellery, and furniture remains. Some categories of artefact are recorded in more detail than others. For example, gold jewellery and bronze vessels are more likely to be described in detail than iron studs or nails. It is also likely that not all of the artefacts were recorded, and it is certainly the case that some were discarded. However, the available information is better than that available for most archaeological sites, and it is possible to identify many of the activities taking place in each house and shop which give these properties their own individual identities.