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Roman Villas and Houses
by Mandy Barrow

500 BC
AD 43

Town Houses

Ordinary people lived in small flats with a shop in front and workshops behind. Wealthier Romans lived in spacious, comfortable homes with underfloor heating to keep them warm in the winter. Soldiers lived in the fort, outside the main part of town.

What was a rich Romans house like?

Wealthy Roman citizens in the towns lived in a domus. They were single-storey houses which were built around a courtyard known as an atrium.  Atriums had rooms opening up off of them and they had no roofs.

A rich Roman house had many rooms including kitchen, bath, dining, bedrooms and rooms for slaves.

A long covered porch, or verandah, with a low wall and pillars, was built along the front of the house to keep the rooms cool in the summer.

Click here for a plan of a Roman house

Where did poor Romans live?

Poor Romans lived in simple flats. These were called insulae . They often only contained one or two rooms. There was no running water.

How did the Romans get their running water?

Lead pipes brought water to the rich people houses. The pipes were taxed according to size, The larger the pipes the more the tax. Archaeologists can usually tell the wealth of an owner of a Roman house by simply looking at the size of the lead pipes that brought water to that house.

Digging up the Romans
Explore a virtual merchant's house.

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