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  • The Roman villa: source texts and archaeological evidence
  • What is a villa ?
  • Images of villas in Antiquity

Images of villas have come down to us from Antiquity in the form of paintings that were part of wall murals, or as mosaic patterns. This theme is attested to on other media as well.

Many examples of these images have been unearthed in the region of Vesuvius. They were painted on the walls of villas as well as of urban dwellings and even in public baths. The villa theme, popular in the first century CE, features buildings with colonnades built along the shores of un-oceanlike bodies of water that are more like lakes or artificial reserves. Towers pierced with windows or fitted with terraces provide places from which the lovely landscape can be contemplated. These are not rural farm structures, but places that emphasise the elements that were essential for their sponsors.

The villa has pride of place in rural scenes on mosaics discovered in Roman Africa. The Dominus Julius mosaic discovered in Carthage depicts life on an estate and its owners. At the centre is an impressive multi-story structure with outbuildings. Apses in a wall in Tabarka, Tunisia, are decorated with three separate representations of villas. Distinctive buildings, each with its own individualised landscape, present typological elements that distinguish a pleasure villa from a specialised production centre or a multi-purpose farm.