Pompeii: Cleaning the Laundries

2006 - 2008

Pompeii, 21: The SALVE mosaic of shop VI 14, 21 - Photo taken standing on the ancient threshold. (Photo: Miko Flohr [2007])

Cleaning the Laundries was a three season fieldwork project specifically directed at Pompeii's fullonicae. It focused particularly on surface cleaning and on reconstructing what had been found by the original excavators or fhese workshops and had since disappeared under modern layers of sand and debris. In three seasons, all Pompeian fullonicae were studied with the exception of the fullonica of Stephanus, of which the remains could be observed in situ.

The 2006 season focused on three small fullonicae: IX 6, a.1, I 4, 7 and VI 15, 3, and some interesting finds were done, including a floor of tegulae and a discharge system in fullonica VI 15, 3 that had been unknown before, and a water-proof work floor before the fulling installations in both I 4, 7 and IX 6, a. Work was done by a team of three, including MIko Flohr, Lian Verburg and Kirstin Min.

The 2007 season  focused on two large fullonicae VI 8, 20-21.2 and VI 14, 21-22, as well as on the small fullonica VII 2, 41. In VI 8, 20-21.2 surface cleaning allowed for the reconstruction of the rinsing complex and its discharge system; in VI 14, 21-22, work focused on the shop, and exposed the mosaic in front of the entrance, as well as the area of the fulling stalls. Additional work was done on the discharge system of the rinsing complex. In VII 2, 41, the area of the fulling stalls was cleaned, which led to the discovery of two storage amphorae, and a work-floor with a discharge system. Work was done by a team of six, including Miko Flohr, Suzanne van de Liefvoort, Jetske Tinnevelt, Mandy van der Velden, Lily Wedershoven and Lian Verburg.

The 2008 campaign was used both to go back to two workshops where more work seemed necessary to complete the documentation (I 4, 7 and VI 15, 3), and to investigate four other workshops, including I 10, 6, V 1, 2, VI 3, 6, and VI 16, 3.4. The work was done by the same team as in 2007. In VI 16, 3.4, work allowed us to understand the connection between the fullonica and the Casa degli Amorini Dorati (VI 16, 7.38), and to study the wool-washing or felt-making workshop in the room adjacent to the fullonica. Also, it proved possible to study the discharge system of the rinsing complex. In V 1, 2, we found the expected set of fulling stalls, but there were three of them instead of two, and the surrounding work floor. In I 10, 6 we found the remains of the fulling stalls and the surrounding work floor, as was true in VI 3, 6.

The results of the project allowed us to better understand the practice of fulling in Pompeii, and they had a huge impact on  'The world of the fullo', especially regarding the parts dealing with the technicalities of the production process, and the design of the workshop. Interim reports were published after each campaign. The project was made possible by funding by Radboud University, Nijmegen, and by a generous gift by A.M. Kalmeier. 


Flohr, M. (2011). ‘Cleaning the Laundries III. Report of the 2008 campaign’. FOLD&R 214: 1–13.
Flohr, M. (2008). ‘Cleaning the Laundries II. Report of the 2007 campaign’. FOLD&R 111: 1–13.
Flohr, M. (2007). ‘Cleaning the Laundries. Report of the 2006 season’. RivStPomp 18: 131–136.