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Definition: The formal, central hall of the Roman domus was the atrium. Small bedrooms or cubicula branched off from the atrium. Typically beyond the atrium was a reception or office area known as the tablinum, beyond which would be an enclosed colonnaded garden. The atrium was open to the air and held a small pool to collect rain. Between the atrium and the street were the doors and a corridor (vestibulum, from which comes vestibule).

Related Resources:



Republican Roman Construction
Photograph of a Roman atrium in Pompeii

Elsewhere on the Web:

The Roman House
Site explains the difference between classic Roman and early Italian house plans and the climatic reasons for the open air atrium.

Sample Plan of a Roman House
Barbara F. McManus shows the layout of a Roman house, noting atrium (formal entrance hall), ala ("wings" opening from atrium), cubiculum (small room; bedroom), culina (kitchen), exedra (garden room), peristylium (colonnaded garden), taberna (shop), tablinum (office; study), triclinium (dining room), and vestibulum (entrance hall).

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