Explanation of database fields

Cat. no./Catalogue Number

This field contains the catalogue number of each artefact or group of artefacts as catalogued in Penelope M. Allison, The Insula of the Menander in Pompeii vol iii: The Finds, a Contextual Study (Oxford University Press 2006). One catalogue number is usually assigned to each item as inventoried in the Pompeii collection. For example, when objects, or parts of objects, were inventoried separately (e.g. Pompeii inv. nos 4909A and 4909C) each is given a separate catalogue number. Where several objects, or parts of objects, have only one inventory number (e.g. Pompeii inv. no. 4909B – cat. no. 671) they are similarly provided with a single catalogue number but each item is given an additional lower case Roman numeral (e.g. cat nos 671i, 671ii, 671iii). Thus, alphabetical subdivisions of inventory numbers are those of the Pompeian inventories and lower case Roman numeral subdivisions are those of this particular catalogue. The only exception is cat. no. 1599 where upper case Roman numerals are used in the Pompeian inventories (for further discussion on catalogue numbering: Allison 2006: 10) .

Artefacts which have catalogue numbers commencing with ‘Menandro suppl.’, ‘Fabbro suppl.’ or ‘Amanti suppl.’ are those which were left in the house at the time of excavation and only subsequently moved to the Pompeii storerooms and inventoried, most after 1979 (see below under Pompeian inv. no.). Only a few such artefacts can be identified with those recorded at the time of excavation and it is not definite that all these artefacts were indeed originally excavated in the respective houses in this insula. 

House no./House Number

This field consists of the number by which the house or unit is usually known (e.g. House I 10,8 or Unit I 10,12). Where the precise house or unit is unknown entries have only ‘I 10’ (= Insula I 10, unprovenanced).

Room no./Room Number

This field contains room numbers as provided in the plan of the insula. ‘UF’ refers to upper levels in the deposit, some of which can be securely ascribed to a room in an upper storey and some of which cannot. ‘UF’ is also sometimes used if the artefact is ascribed to a particular house, or area within a house, but no more precise room provenance information is provided. ‘Suppl. cat.’ refers to items which have been inventoried since 1979 and whose provenance to the houses in this insula is not assured (see under cat. no.).

Room Type

The general type of space (e.g. room, courtyard, ‘atrium’ etc.) is included in this field. This field also includes ‘Upper level’ categories for artefacts found in the upper levels of the volcanic deposit or from insecure deposits.


Where the information is available in the excavation reports, this field indicates where within the room or space the artefacts were found, and at what height above ground floor level. For those from the upper levels of the volcanic deposit, the corresponding lower room number is given, where possible. If the provenance is doubtful, this is indicated in this field.


This field indicates the number of artefacts in each record because not every entry is equivalent to one artefact. If the quantity given is 5, 10 or 20 this is often an approximate quantity, because, in most cases where there are numerous items, the precise quantity was not recorded in the excavation reports.


This field includes the identification of each artefact. Where possible, this identification is given in English, and identifies the basic form of the artefact in the least possibly subjective manner in terms of function. Where an artefact is no longer extant and its identification is not obvious, the Italian label used in the original reports is provided here. Sometimes, for extant artefacts which have been studied, the original Italian label is included in brackets, alongside the English identification. If a Latin, or a Greek, term was used in the reports then this is treated in the same manner as the Italian terms. A glossary of these terms is provided in the Allison 2006, appendix C.


This field contains the general material of the artefact (e.g. bone, bronze, ceramic, clay, glass, iron, stone, wood). It also includes sub-categories (e.g. marble) and multiple materials (e.g. bronze and silver).  For non-extant items this material identification follows the reports and has not been verified for this study.

Functional Type

This field includes broad functional categories as listed in Allison 2006, appendix B (e.g. vessels, door and furniture fittings, miscellaneous fittings).


This field contains entries for those artefacts that have been drawn.  The ‘Figure’ number preceding the image refers (e.g. Figure 1.1) to the illustration in Allison 2006.


This field contains entries for those artefacts that have been photographed, which includes most extant artefacts. The ‘Plate’ number preceding the image (e.g. Plate 1.1)refers to the illustration in Allison 2006.


All extant artefacts in the main catalogues have been measured for this study and these measurements are provided here.


This field includes a brief description of some of the ceramic fabrics, if identifiable.


This field consists of a brief description of each artefact. The descriptions are designed from functional and contextual perspectives and based on visual analysis only. They are concerned less with the production aspects of these artefacts – their specific form, fabric type or typological group – than with their consumption. If an item is no longer extant, or is inaccessible, descriptions in the reports and inventories are included here.

Any available inscriptional information is also included in this field. Many inscriptions are no longer extant or visible on the artefact and all need reconsideration in the light of current information. The results of this reconsideration will be included in volume v of this series (Reynolds and Varone forthcoming). 

Present location

This field indicates where the artefact was located at the time of writing. Extant artefacts are normally kept in the Pompeii collections, in the Casa di Bacco (Pompeii Collection, CB) or in the storerooms next to the Forum in Pompeii (Pompeii Collection, Granaio del Foro). Most of the coins and intrinsically more valuable items are housed in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. If the item is no longer extant, some information on its history is given in this section (e.g. destroyed in the bombing during the 2nd World War). If the artefact has been re-inventoried since excavation (e.g. with a Naples Museum inventory number or a number since 1979, discussed below), the original inventory number is included here. 

Pompeian inv. no.

Unless otherwise stated these refer to the inventory numbers in the Pompeii Collection. They are predominantly the numbers under which the artefacts were originally inventoried during excavation recording. However, a number of artefacts have been re-inventoried since the 1979, notably those in the supplementary catalogues and those with inventory numbers greater than 17000. Where applicable this new inventory number is included in this field, as this is the number by which the artefact is currently stored. Other artefacts were re-inventoried when they were taken to the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. This applies particularly to coins and silver found in Room B of the Casa del Menandro. If the inventory number in this field refers to the Naples Museum inventory number it is preceded with the letters ‘NM’. Where no inventory number is included, the artefact was not inventoried at the time of excavation and cannot be positively identified as one of the items catalogued as supplementary.


This field includes any main references to the artefact, particularly any published illustrations or inscriptions.


This field includes a brief paragraph discussing the type, if known, and published parallels or comparisons for the artefact. It also discusses possible functions, including the potential multi-functionality, of the artefact and indicates where this type of artefact is further discussed in Allison 2006. References are given here to artefacts in the supplementary catalogues, for artefacts which were not inventoried at the time of excavation and which are possibly the same artefact. This discussion is not comprehensive but provides further references for pursuing more production-oriented lines of research.