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Archeological Object

Fresco depicting Nilotic landscape with pygmies (113196)

Fresco depicting Nilotic landscape with pygmies (113196)

The scene formed part of the internal decoration of a podium that surrounded the garden of the Casa del Medico (VIII, 5, 24) in Pompeii, noted for the presence of a third scene with the so-called “Judgement of Solomon”, which is also kept in the Archaeological Museum of Naples (inv. 113197). The whole cycle depicts pygmies fighting crocodiles and hippopotamuses, a theme frequently used in depictions of this type, of which there are examples in mosaics and pottery. Pygmies were depicted from Archaic times in scenes of combat with cranes and, in Hellenistic times, represented the symbol of a remote exotic world, portrayed in its most grotesque and comic guises. The scene is set on the banks of a river, in which there is a boat with a prow in the form of a donkey’s head, steered by two pygmies fully armed with helmets, spears and shields who are transporting amphoras. There is also a hippopotamus in the river devouring a pygmy while a second pygmy, on the back of the animal, tries to free his companion from its jaws by hitting it with a jug. A banquet is taking place on the river bank: beneath an awning stretched between two trees there is a triclinium on which lie five pygmies, and a round table with a container on it, next to which two pygmies are coupling, while a third pygmy plays the double flute. To the right of the scene is a dancing procession, represented by a pygmy, an ibis and two pygmies waving sticks, while on the edge of the picture two pygmies are depicted having a conversation. The women are distinguished by the length of their tunics. The scene takes place within a fenced-off area with entrances, beside which is a building. In Roman times, this was one of the favourite scenes for the decoration of tricliniums, which were intended for rest but also for the pleasure of the master of the house and usually positioned in open spaces. The erotic scene accompanied by music beneath the awning is also found in Pompeii in a fresco still in situ on the front of the right panel of the summer triclinium (p) positioned under a pergola in the Casa dell'Efebo (I, 7, 11).

Further information
Codici (Label is not translated)
  Ente_competente: Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici delle Province di Napoli e Caserta
  SGTI: paesaggio nilotico con pigmei
Localizzazione_geografico-amministrativa (Label is not translated)
  PVCS: Italia
  regione: CAMPANIA
  provincia: Napoli
  comune: Napoli
  LDCT: palazzo
  Name: Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
  Indirizzo: Piazza Museo, 19 - 80135
  LDCM: Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
  Location: Mezzanine floor, room LXVc, no. 27
Altre_localizzazioni_geografico_amministrative_reperimento (Label is not translated)
  PRVS: Italia
  regione: CAMPANIA
  provincia: Napoli
  comune: Pompei
  PRCC: Pompei Scavi
Dati_patrimoniali (Label is not translated)
  Inventory number: 113196
  INVD: 1863 post
Modalita_di_reperimento (Label is not translated)
  SCAN: Casa del Medico
  DSCD: 1882/07/00
Dati_tecnici (Label is not translated)
  MISU: cm.
  Height: 56
  Width: 217
  Length: 217
Dati_analitici (Label is not translated)
  Inscriptions - text:

Condizione_giuridica_e_vincoli (Label is not translated)
  CDGG: proprietà Stato
Fonti_e_documenti_di_riferimento (Label is not translated)

Fiorelli 1882, n. 2, pp. 322-323; Reinach 1922, n. 8, p. 162; Schefold 1957, p. 227; Marcadé 1961, p. 36; Pompeii A.D. 79 1978, II, n. 89, p. 152 e bibliografia; Pompeii A.D. 79 1980, n. 87 e bibliografia; LIMC VII, 1, 1994, p. 598, s.v. Pygmaioi, n. 46b; LIMC VII, 2, 1994, p. 476; PPM VIII, 1998, n. 5, pp. 606-607; Romana Pictura 1998, n. 17, pp. 274-275; Cantarella 1999, p. 158; De Caro 2000, pp. 40 e 45; Varone 2000, p. 29, fig. 24.