Commercial Establishments in Ancient Pompeii

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The commercial establishments or the commercial structures in ancient Pompeii were the establishments that catered to the daily needs for goods, products and leisure activities of the bustling city's inhabitants. These businesses were integral to the economic and social life of the city, showcasing the diversity of goods and services available to the residents.

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The commercial landscape of Pompeii, teeming with a variety of commercial activity, included bakeries, laundries, taverns, brothels, and food shops, each contributing to the vibrant urban culture. Notable establishments such as the Bakery of Popidius Priscus, the Fullonica of Stephanus, the Taberna of Phoebus, the Lupanar, the Thermopolium of Vetutius Placidus, and the Taberna of Sextus Amarantus provide a fascinating glimpse into the commercial activities of the ancient city.

List of the Commercial Establishments


Bakery of Popidius Priscus
The Bakery (pistrinum) of Popidius Priscus (Panificio di Popido Prisco) contains four large millstones made from porous lava, traces of a stable, four storage rooms and a large oven which was used for baking the bread. This bakery had no adjoining shop, so the bread was probably sold on to other shops or to street vendors, called libani. The bakery adjoins the house of Popidius Priscus, a member of one of the most important families in Pompeii. The main entrance to the bakery was on Vicolo Storto, but the bakery did not have a sales counter suggesting deliveries were made to trade customers in the neighbourhood.


Fullonica of Stephanus
The Fullery of Stephanus (Fullonica Stephani) was created by the refurbishment of a preexisting house, the first floor was used as a work area, while the upper floor housed living quarters and a drying area. Although it is unclear if the name (Stephanus) called out in the election slogans on the façade belongs to the owner or to the manager. The entrance is wide, to permit easy access to customers dropping off their clothes. Such users had to pass by the ironing press room at the left of the entrance. A staircase leads to the terrace above the atrium, which is the only example of an atrium with an intact roof level in the whole Pompeii.


Taberna of Phoebus
The taberna of Phoebus was a thermopolium situated nearby to Fabbrica del sapone, and close to House of Sallust. Various electoral recommendations were found near to this taberna. Fiorelli wrote that one of them must surely be the name of the person who perhaps sold hot drinks and food here. In this bar, there is a cistern which was supplied by an internal pipe from the roof.

circa 150 BCE

The Lupanar of Pompeii is the ruins of a brothel in the Ancient Roman city of Pompeii. It is of particular interest for the erotic paintings on its walls. Term Lupanar is Latin for "brothel". The Pompeii lupanar is also known as Lupanare Grande or the "Purpose-Built Brothel". The Lupanar was the largest of the brothels found in Pompeii with 10 rooms. Like other brothels, rooms in the Lupanar were plainly furnished.


Thermopolium of Vetutius Placidus
The thermopolium (visible from outside) (Latin word formed from Greek words) of Vetutius Placidus opens on via dell’Abbondanza and represents social mobility in Pompeii in Roman times, where merchants and craftsmen also held a high social status, reserved only to landowners in older times. Drinks and hot food were served in this place, as the name indicates, stored in large jars placed in the richly decorated masonry counter of the tavern.

The news stand on the back wall is of great interest; extremely well-maintained, it consists of a lararium dedicated to the protectors of the household (Lari), the Genius protector of the owner, as well as the god of trade (Mercury) and the god of wine (Dionysus). The house is at the rear, interconnected with the shop, decorated with precious frescoes and a triclinium for outdoor dining. A hoard of nearly 3 kg (6.6 lb) of coins was found in one of the large clay jars placed in the counter, probably the last collections of the host, thereby attesting the profitable activity of the tavern.


Taberna of Sextus Amarantus
The Domus Amaranti would be mainly occupied by an establishment concentrating on to the sale of wine in bulk and/or wholesale, using mainly Eastern wines. Sextus Pompeius Amarantus would be its administrator and/or owner sometime between 62 and 79 CE. The house (Domus) is characterized by the poverty of building materials and decoration, with evidence of unfinished construction-repair and marginality or abandonment. The lack of tableware also contradicts the idea of a residential use of this structure.

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