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Fullonica Processing Tubs 1

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Fullonica Processing Tubs 1
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Photo Comments

View of the processing tubs of the fullonica.  In the upper left are three small tubs (A,B,C)—barely visible.  They held about 6–8 gallons of urine each!  Slaves/workers would stand in the tubs and stomp on the garments in the urine to clean them. 

Then, the garments were placed in the large lower tub (1) that was filled with fuller's earth—a type of clay that was used instead of soap.  Here, the garments would be "agitated" with poles. Then the garments would be placed in the second tub (2) for the first rinse, and then placed in the third tub (3) for the final rinse.  Water from Pompeii's fresh water supply was piped into the building, first into tub 3, then 2 and finally into 1.

Then they would be line dried, stretched, etc., probably on the upper (destroyed) floors of this fullonica.

A fullonica was designed for the washing of dirty laundry and degreasing fabric that had just been threaded, was built in the last stage of the life of Pompeii, transforming the structure from an original house to commercial business. Based upon inscriptions it is believed that Stephanus was the owner of the fullery. He died during the eruption in 79 AD while trying to escape. The workers for Stephanus, almost all slaves, had to tread on fabrics and clothes for hours, placed under a liquid containing human and animal urine, collected in pots placed along the streets, which intended to treat the fabrics (see following images).