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Antioch and Apameia: urban life and domestic architecture in the East
  Antioch and Apamea vividly demonstrate the bustling urban environment of the empire's eastern provinces. Other Levantine cities, too, such as Laodicea, Berytus, Tyr, Alep, Damascus, shared their prosperity. The wealthiest citizens were landowners who lived off rural property but never left the city, with its pleasures and mundane surroundings. During the same period, the western Europe faced a massive exodus of its rich and powerful to the countryside, where they settled in magnificent rural estates (villae). Western cities were left to the administration of alien invadors, their past grandeur slowly fading.
  The mosaic pavement of the so-called Yaqto House, in the suburb of Daphne, near Antioch, is an illustrated guide of the city and its vivid street life. The mosaic's central panel depicts Megalopsychia, the personnification of the donor's generosity, presiding over a hunting scene. Its border combines representations of Antioch's major monuments with genre scenes. One recognizes the suburb of Daphne, where the rich citizens of Antioch moved for the summer, its springs personnified by nymphs; the privaton (private bathing establishment) in the Ardabourios quarter; the olympic stadium and a hippodrome; gambling houses and public baths; elegant colonnaded urban dwellings, not unlike those in the villages of the Limestone Massif; two public squares, one with a tree and three imperial statues in its middle, another adorned by a monumental column; the busy market with its fishmongers, butchers and oil merchants; a wineshop, such as those found in the portico at Sardis; a dice-game in progress.
  Several examples of urban dwellings have survived in Apamea. These luxurious urban mansions, some of which were as large as 6000 m2 (like the so-called House of the Console Capitals), form clusters of two or three, and are of uniform style since most were built after the destructive earthquake of 113 AD. A peristyle courtyard and large reception room (Triclinium) formed the core of each house. They were surrounded by private quarters and dependencies arranged on two floors. One entered the house through a small vestibule which led onto the courtyard. The main reception room normally lay on the opposite side. This was a rectangular space, often ending in an apse; mobile couches and tables could be brought in for dining on special occasions. Similar only smaller dining rooms were used for the informal family dinners. In such cases, the formal and informal dining rooms were arranged side by side or at an angle. The dining furniture consisted of a semi-circular couch, the stibadium, and a semi-circular table with marble top and wooden base. White marble was used for the informal dining tables, and expensive verde antico for the formal ones. Guests ate in a reclining position, leaning on a cylindrical cushion towards the table. Sixth-century fashion dictated opus sectile pavements and dadoes, which gradually replaced earlier mosaics. Water was particularly important as it both decorated and refreshed; fountains adorned with statues and mosaics often covered entire walls. Many houses had had baths and lavatories (as in the House of the Pilars) added to them following the 526 and 528 earthquakes.

See also: Urban Planning; Mosaics