For enterprising landowners, the lifestyle of the provincial upper classes alternated stays in the country and time in the city, where they threw themselves into business matters, both public and private, negotiated in the county seat. A quest for comfort and a desire to assert one's social rank were the twin sources of an architectural style – the domus – whose elements could be found in both the villa and the urban dwelling. Among the various cities of southern Gaul, the provincial capital Narbo (Narbonne) has furnished eloquent examples of these domus, thanks to excavations led by Maryse and Raymond Sabrié in the Clos de la Lombarde. In this sector of the Roman city, a block bounded by roadways has been fully excavated. With a surface area of 1000 sq. metres, the so-called House of the Porticos was organised around an atrium and a courtyard with peristyle, in line with the style that was prevalent in Italy in the late 1st century BCE. A second, smaller house consisted of a single U-shaped main building build around a courtyard with an ornamental pool. A huge ceremonial room (87 sq. m) giving onto this garden space had a floor in opus sectile – a costly technique involving inlaid sheets of marble and schist. Such luxurious finishings, like mosaics, point to the most carefully decorated spaces in the house, reception rooms and private salons. Painted plaster walls were also an important decorative element for the house.
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