La Stanza Gialla

The building, which was constructed against the steep southwestern slope of the hill, comprised several storeys overlooking the Testaccio plain. The underground area of the domus, – archaeologists found substructures, storerooms, and underground corridors – supported the living quarters above. What remains of the upper storeys is characterized by a variety of masonry types: the foundations are in ashlar blocks (opus quadratum); the walls in brickwork (opus latericium) or reticulates of tufa framed by bricks (opus mixtum). The decorative apparatus has scantly survivied in the form of painted stucco on the walls and thin marble slabs on the plinths.

The floors are made of short bricks arranged edgeways in a "ear of corn" pattern (opus spicatum), marble slabs (opus sectile) or, most often, figurative mosaics in black and white tesserae. Most of the mosaics have now disappeared. Among the survivers deserves particular mention a representation of Orpheus seated by a tree and playing his lyre for a crowd of enchanted exotic animals. This mosaic, now located by the main stairwell of the convent, can be dated between the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 3rd century AD.

Fancily decorated walls and floors were backdrops for a rich collection of sculpted marbles, of which fragments have been found in the excavations of via di Sant' Anselmo and via di San

Domenico, including a male statue, a portrait head of a bearded man, a smaller than lifesize male torso, and a foot belonging to a large statue.

Three marble tripods (two from the Piranesi collection, the other almost certainly found near the church of Santa Maria del Priorato) and a round epistyle decorated with a marine thiasos are but a few objects belonging to these once richly ornamented settings.

One level of the domus was occupied by a cryptoporticus in opus reticulatum and covered on three sides by barrell vaults. Its perimeter corresponds to the area of the two cloisters of the convent standing above it.

The inferior level of the complex is occupied by a network of chambers and corridors, and an extensive system of wells and tunnels for the conveyance of rainwater and sewage. One cistern, still preserved in its original state underneath the passage between the cloisters, is placed inside the area encircled by the cryptoportico and is composed of two rectangular chambers placed side by side.

It is likely that semi-open structures, such as porticoes or terraces, were located on the southeastern and southwestern parts of the domus, in order to take full advantage of natural lighting and of the panorama.