Pompeii house virtually reconstructed in 3D

After the magnitude 6.9 Irpinia earthquake devastated Naples and its environs in 1980, damaging the ancient city of Pompeii, authorities invited international researchers to help thoroughly document the ruins. The Swedish Pompeii Project was founded in 2000 with the aim of recording and studying a full block of the city, Insula V 1. Since 2010, the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Lund University has been working on the project, ushering in a new approach that combines archaeological finds, photographs and data recorded at the site and makes 3D models out of them.

“By combining new technology with more traditional methods, we can describe Pompeii in greater detail and more accurately than was previously possible”, says Nicolรณ Dell’Unto, digital archaeologist at Lund University.

Among other things, the researchers have uncovered floor surfaces from AD 79, performed detailed studies of the building development through history, cleaned and documented three large wealthy estates, a tavern, a laundry, a bakery and several gardens. In one garden, they discovered that some of the taps to a stunning fountain were on at the time of eruption โ€“ the water was still gushing when the rain of ash and pumice fell over Pompeii.

The researchers occasionally also found completely untouched layers. In a shop were three, amazingly enough, intact windows (made out of translucent crystalline gypsum) from Ancient Rome, stacked against each other. By studying the water and sewer systems they were able to interpret the social hierarchies at the time, and see how retailers and restaurants were dependent on large wealthy families for water, and how the conditions improved towards the end, before the eruption.

You can already peruse 3D models of the structures on the entire block on the Swedish Pompeii Project website, but they’re still a tad on the minimalist side at this point. One structure, however, the grand house of Caecilius Iucundus, has been virtually reconstructed in glorious detail. They recreated it as it was before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. laid waste to the city while simultaneously preserving it.

Here is a quick overview of the project and model:


Here is a quick walkthrough of the 3D reconstruction of the house:


And here is the money, a beautifully thorough 11-minute tour through the ruins and reconstruction of the house of Caecilius Iucundus:

10 thoughts on “Pompeii house virtually reconstructed in 3D

  1. Hello,

    Cambridge Latin ahoy! Absolutely amazing to view the house as it was then, especially as this house and family are the core subject of the Cambridge Latin course Level One. It’s ironic …. Spooky, to look at each of the rooms that the students have been so painstakingly discussing. One almost expects the characters created of that family to wander through!

    Thank you Livius Drusus for the great pleasure that this has given me and for something fabulous to share with them.

    Multas Gratias Ago Tibi!

    1. What incredibly fortuitous timing! Fortuna is clearly looking out for the students of Cambridge Latin course Level One to have this exceptional recreation released of the very house the students have been immersed in. Please let me know how it is received.

      Salutatio, C.A.!

    1. You’ve very welcome. I am but the delivery vehicle for the genius of Lund University team. I am a greedy delivery vehicle, however, and wish they’d do the same for every structure in Pompeii.

    1. I’ve been hopelessly enamoured with reconstructions since I was a kid and my parents had these picture books with photos of Roman ruins and cellophane drawings that covered the pictures and fleshed out the rest of the structures as they were in their heyday. What technology makes possible today is a wonderland.

  2. Romani, ite domum !

    I used to work for a software company, and by mistake, some CD-ROMs got labeled wrong in the Netherlands.

    Instead of our valuable software, some customers saw a BBC documentary about “Pompeii – The Last Days” on their computer screens.

    “I see people in short trousers and sandals”, as one of them put it ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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