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Herculaneum: House of Argus: Detail, colonnade
The term peristyle refers to the court toward the back of a Roman house, commonly with a small garden surrounded by a colonnade.
Herculaneum offers some valuable evidence for the study of the development of Roman domestic architecture. The buildings at the site are grouped in blocks (insulae), defined by the intersection of the east-west (cardi) and north-south (decumani) streets. The second house in insula II got its name from a fresco of Argus and Io which once adorned a reception room off the large peristyle. The fresco is now sadly lost, but its name lives on. This building must have been one of the finer villas in Herculaneum. The discovery of the house in the late 1820s was notable because it was the first time a second floor had been unearthed in such detail. The excavation revealed a second floor balcony overlooking Cardo III and also wooden shelving and cupboards. Sadly with the passing of time, these elements have now been lost.