The Painted Room
This room has variously been described as a dressing room or a latrine. The fine painting reaching the floor would hardly have survived for long if it had been a latrine.
The curious false wall
When it was first excavated, some time between 1956 and 1958, the alcove in the end wall was entirely blocked off by a tufa wall and nobody suspected there was anything behind it, but one day a block fell out, revealing a space behind. The tufa wall was removed to reveal the hidden painted wall.
The decoration is in late Pompeian style, indicating a date between 20 BC and 79 AD.
The central panel is likely to have been highly painted. Doc Paget describes it as having been deliberately erased, scoured over to remove the top stucco. The decoration outside the central panel does not show such abrasion.
Paget photographed the panel with every kind of coloured filter and even infra-red, yet he could detect no trace of what the original picture may have shown.
The dark hole in the upper wall showed no sign of any room behind this painted room, although there is space for something between here and the North Tank, hidden further back into the hillside.
There is a marble threshold between this room and Big D, indicating that they were once interconnecting rooms.
Below the panel in the alcove is a shallow trench in the mosaic floor, about 1 inch deep (25.4mm) and 10 inches wide (254mm). It has a thin white border with lines of black and yellow mosaic.
The trench has caused some experts to declare this room a ‘latrina’, but it’s hard to imagine men urinating against such a fine painted wall. What was this trench really for?
The exterior court
In front of the Painted room is a court with two small D-shaped baths. Big D also had direct access to this court. The court and its baths are aligned the same way as the buildings against the cliff and appear to be part of the overall design of this set of buildings.
Perhaps Doc Paget named the Big D room such because these two adjacent baths are much smaller.
Doc’s Sacrificial Area
The court was originally tiled in a variety of different coloured marbles. In the south west corner are four marble blocks that appear to have been the feet of a table or structure of some kind.
Doc Paget’s highly fertile imagination saw some kind of sacrificial area, where animals were offered before a descent to the Oracle of the Dead.