Ground plan showing location of tunnels (in brown)
Statue of a drunken satyr from the Villa.
The villa is located a few hundred metres from the nearest house in Herculaneum. Although it now lies inland, before the October of A.D. 79, the structure occupied more than 250 metres (820 ft) of coastline along the Gulf of Naples. On the other sides it was surrounded by a closed garden, vineyards and woods. The villa had four levels beneath the main floor, arranged in terraces overlooking the sea.It has recently been ascertained that the main floor was 16 m (52 ft) above sea level in antiquity.
The villa's layout is an expanded version of the traditional Campanian villa suburbana. One entered through the fauces and proceeded to the atrium, which functioned as an entrance hall and a means of communication with the various parts of the house. The entrance opened with a columned portico on the sea side.
After passing through the tablinum, one arrived at the first peristyle, made up of 10 columns on each side, with a swimming pool in the centre. In this area were found the bronze herm adapted from the Doryphorus of Polykleitosand the herm of an Amazon made by Apollonios son of Archias of Athens. The large second peristyle could be reached by passing through a large tablinum in which, under a propylaeum, was the archaic statue of Athena Promachos. A collection of bronze busts were in the interior of the tablinum. These included the head of Scipio Africanus.
Statue of dancers from the peristyle.
The living and reception quarters were grouped around the porticoes and terraces, giving occupants ample sunlight and a view of the countryside and sea. In the living quarters, bath installations were brought to light, and the library of rolled and carbonised papyri placed inside wooden capsae, some of them on ordinary wooden shelves and around the walls and some on the two sides of a set of shelves in the middle of the room.
The grounds included a large area of covered and uncovered gardens for walks in the shade or in the warmth of the sun. The gardens included a gallery of busts, hermae and small marble and bronze statues. These were laid out between columns amid the open part of the garden and on the edges of the large swimming bath.