atrium
The Atrium of Senex Caecilius

The large public room at the center of the domus is the atrium. Other rooms of the domus typically adjoin or open into it. It contains a roofless space called the compluvium which provides air and light. This opening also allows water that collects on the roof to drain into a basin positioned below it called the impluvium.

In the early Italian houses, which had a covered atrium, the alae (singular = ala, "wing") were the open rooms on each side of the atrium, and they had windows to allow light to enter the house. However, with the introduction of the compluvium and the general abandoning of windows in the Roman house, the alae became largely obsolete. It appears that they were incorporated into the house more in accordance to tradition than for any specific use.

The opening in the ceiling above the pool called for some means of support for the roof. It is here where five types of atrium can be distinguished, the most widespread type being the atrium tuscanium where the weight of the ceiling is carried by the rafters rather than columns.

Follow these paths to either the virtual atrium of the Bicentenary House in Herculaneum or a virtual tour of the House of the Mosaic Atrium, both creations located at SPQR Blues. A thorough discussion of The Roman House includes a floor plan and model.


Vicus | Ianua | Fauces | Atrium | Library | Tablinum | Kitchen | Triclinium | Lavatory | Cubiculum
Taberna | Viridarium | Museum | Mausoleum | Tabularium | Odeum | Scriptorium | Tropaeum
Exedra | Peristylium | Hortus | Lararium | Baths | Farm | Ludi | Album | Schola