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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2021

Ceiling Decor Contextualised: A Case Study from the ‘Casa di Augusto’ on the Palatine

From the book Principles of Decoration in the Roman World

Johannes Lipps


The ‘Casa di Augusto’ was intentionally filled in after 36 B.C. for the construction of a temple dedicated to Apollo Palatinus. Because of this, much of the room decoration has survived. Besides the (plundered) opus sectile floors and the wall paintings, the ceiling decorations from multiple rooms have been preserved. During past decades, some of these have been painstakingly reconstructed from thousands of fragments. Thanks to this work we are able to examine an unparalleled ceiling ensemble from a lavish Late Republican house in ancient Rome. The case study of the ‘Casa di Augusto’ allows us to answer some important questions about the role that Second Style ceilings played in domestic architecture. How were they used to hierarchise rooms together with wall paintings and floor decoration? Which strategies were used to suggest different levels of depth? How were different lighting methods used to stage the rooms? And, finally, how did they evoke specific atmospheres or moods?

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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