Friday, July 1, 2011

Cave Canem

More than 2,000 years ago someone designed and built this jacuzzi in Pompeii, a city that rivalled Rome at the time. I remember learning about Pompeii in grade school, how it was buried by volcanic ash, but I had no idea about it size--acres and acres, and only about a third of it has been unearthed so far.

The big sunken bath above featured plumbing with clay and lead pipes. In the center you can see how the floor was supported above spaces to circulate steam. Obviously these guys cared about their leisure time.

We walked down the city streets and could clearly identify the shops and restaurants, complete with pizza ovens, and then into the residential district. At one house, in the hallway leading to the front door, is this famous mosaic of a dog with the phrase "Cave Canem" (beware of dog). But notice the crouched position and wagging tail--dog people would have known that this was a playful dog (despite the barred teeth), so I see it as a mixed message. "Beware of dog," it says, "(except for dog people)"

Someone took the time to construct this picture out of thousands (maybe trillions) of small tiles. How long did it take, I wonder, and was there a project manager and a deadline?

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