Pompeii, Italy


Lupa” is Latin for prostitute and on that street a very organized brothel was located, the only building erected for that specific purpose: the other brothels were just little rooms or converted top floors of shops.

Like all places of prostitution, this one as well is found at a street intersection.

It had ten bedrooms: five on the ground floor and five on the top floor, accessed by a wooden staircase; on the upper floor a walkway allowed visitors to access rooms upstairs. Each room had its own wooden door and a latrine.

Beds were made of brickwork and covered with thin, sturdy mattresses evidently too short to protect the beds from customers shoes’ scuff-marks, which are still visible today! Decoration consisted of painted panels illustrating several positions for erotic games which could be enacted on demand. Next to those scenes Priapus, the god of male fertility, is represented portrayed in front of a fig tree holding two penises in his hands.

Prostitutes were slaves, usually coming from Greece or from the Near East. Prices would range from 2 to 8 axes (a serving of wine costed 1), but since women did not have legal rights, all the proceeds went to the owner or to the lupanar manager.

The building dates back to the last period of the city: in one of the rooms some fresh plaster captured the imprint of a coin dating back to 72 AD. An untouched plate of pasta and beans was also found here, another evidence of life being frozen in time at the moment of the eruption.