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The Villa at Oplontis

The Villa at Oplontis is located in the modern town of Torre Annunziata near Naples. This vast villa complex is believed to have belonged to Poppaea Sabina the wife of the Emperor Nero.

The site of the villa was first discovered in the 18th century by Francesco La Vega during the building of the Conte di Sarno canal. It was soon acquired by the State; however, owing to lack of funds the site was not systematically excavated until the 1960s. Sections of the villa complex still remain unexcavated to this day due to its proximity to the modern fabric of the town.

Originally constructed around the middle of the first century B.C. the villa was based on the design of a Roman atrium-style house. It was later extended during the reign of Nero with a large outdoor swimming pool and was undergoing restoration work when it was finally buried in the eruption of 79 AD.

The villa at Oplontis is momentous for its sheer size, as well as outdoor garden areas, pergolas and porticos, more than one hundred rooms have thus far been excavated. The rooms are themselves renowned for their sumptuous frescoes representing architecture embellished with masks, birds, baskets of flowers and fruit etc.

This study focuses on the architectural wall paintings located on the west wall of Room 23 ("triclinium"), one of a suite of well-preserved second-style frescoes. A detailed 3d model will be used to investigate its implied architecture. In addition, the whole room will be virtually reconstructed, together with hypothetical couches and reclining figures in order to analyse specific viewpoints from within the room.

Research by Martin Blazeby