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Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2008, 04:43:27 pm »



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« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2008, 04:46:04 pm »



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« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2008, 04:48:30 pm »



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« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2008, 04:50:25 pm »



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« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2008, 07:46:03 am »











                                                 Review: Pompeii by Mary Beard






20/09/2008
telegraph.co.uk.com

Nicholas Shakespeare warms to a myth-puncturing examination of Pompeii

Vesuvius erupted on August 24, 79 AD; interrupted the people of Pompeii at breakfast with a rain of pumice; overtook them as they fled in rivers of bubbling mud and molten rock; and preserved 1,100 of them at the moment of their deaths.

The only eyewitness account to survive - written 25 years later by the Younger Pliny - evoked a familiar apocalyptic cloud "like an umbrella pine" and described Pliny's uncle, suffocated on the shore at Stabiae, as looking "more like a man asleep than a dead one".

advertisementIn which posture, Pompeii has remained fixed in the popular imagination; a sort of Mary Celeste town, frozen in time - only, instead of boiled eggs still on the table, 81 round buns baking in the oven.

Found in the same bakery - "the slightly mangled remains of an ancient Roman fly". The Cambridge classicist Mary Beard puts herself in the position of such a fly in the years leading up to what has been called the most spectacular disaster in archaeology.

To Beard, as she buzzes about the frescoed walls and scratches beneath the plaster, the story of Pompeii is "more complicated and intriguing" than archaeologists and historians have allowed.

Beard's Pompeii convincingly punctures a number of myths.

The eruption took place several months later than August, to judge from the discovery of autumn fruits and warm clothing; the exodus was not so sudden as we imagine - people had been leaving for days (hence only 1,100 bodies out of a population she estimates at 12,000); also, they took their possessions with them by the wagon-load, which accounts for the modern austerity of their houses.

"What we see (or rather don't see) now is misleading." Objects found on the ground floor might have tumbled down from quarters above; likewise, the skeletons of two adults and a child equipped with a pick and hoe may have been looters who perished when a tunnel collapsed.

There are traps for archaeologists at every step. The marble head of Holconius Rufus, a prominent citizen, turns out to be that of Caligula, a bust surplus to requirements after the emperor's assassination. The couple making love on tightropes (as depicted in a 19th-century copy of a lost painting from the bar on Via di Mercurio) are balancing not on ropes, but on the original artist's guidelines.

Beard warns: "It matters a great deal where exactly your evidence is found."

Take this graffito about a gladiator: "Cresces, the net-man, puts right the night-time girls, the morning girls and all the others." Scholars have attributed it to a love-struck Pompeian girl, but Beard pours a pailful of slop on this and other "wild theories": the line - found inside the gladiatorial barracks - was probably scrawled by the boastful Cresces himself.

It is said of Bugatti cars that for every wheelnut that falls off, four new Bugattis spring up. The same is true of Pompeii. The tiniest detail is pressed into service to underpin any number of theories.

A solitary breast (now lost) inspires the woman of a young Frenchman's dreams in Théophile Gautier's 1852 novella Arria Marcella. An eroded boy's tooth becomes clinching proof that the lad was a fisherman, the erosion caused "by biting on the line which held his catch".

To her credit, Beard does not give a carbonised fig for such ideas, the bulk of which - like the notion that a phallus was a directional sign to a brothel - are "certainly wrong". "All kind of puzzles remain," she writes sensibly. "The truth is we can only guess."

Beard does a capable job of recreating the clutter of urban life from the ruins. She restores to the faded houses their heightened yellow and red colours. She conveys the snorting of the dice-throwers; the stench produced annually by 6.5 million kilos of human ordure.

Her town that rises from the ashes is less pompous and more seedy than tradition has it - the wild beasts in the amphitheatre more likely to have been dogs and goats than bears and bulls, and more reminiscent of "a modern 'children's corner' of a zoo than a wild-game park".

So an adjustment, then, rather than any startling new place; and while her prose is efficient, it can be bland, with something of the character of the liquid plaster that the archaeologist Fiorelli first used to fill in the gaps. ("Pompeii was a city of the poor and rich." "Like any town, Pompeii was always on the move." "Pompeian decoration… was a combination of old and new.")

For all its undoubted virtues, the impression that one takes away from her book is of the enormous amount of effort (and hot air) which has been expended to show that Pompeians were much the same materialistic, fornicating, boozing, superstitious and sensitive lot as we are.

As Herman Melville wrote on a visit in 1857: "Pompeii like any other town. Same old humanity. All the same whether one be dead or alive."
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« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2008, 09:30:30 am »



             

Dr Penelope Allison: “I am interested in revealing the utilitarian side of life rather than its glamorous side."

(Credit:
Picture credit:

Dr Penelope Allison)










                                                Everyday Life In Pompeii Revealed







ScienceDaily
(Apr. 27, 2007)

— There is a common perception that life in the once-thriving Roman city of Pompeii is well-known from the wealth of artefacts that have been uncovered since its accidental discovery in 1748, but this is far from the case, according to findings of University of Leicester archaeologist Dr Penelope M Allison.

Until recently archaeologists working on Pompeian artefacts have tended to concentrate on examples of art, some of it erotic, from the town that was suddenly destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in August 79 AD. But Dr Allison's recently published book, The Insula of the Menander in Pompeii vol 3: the finds, a contextual study, has changed this emphasis.

"I am looking at pots and pans and how houses actually functioned," she said. "I am interested in revealing the utilitarian side of life rather than its glamorous side; in slaves and servants and how they lived side by side with their masters. We always assume that servants were kept out of sight, but this is a 19th century view.

"If we look at the distribution of domestic material in Pompeii houses, such as the cupboards where pots and pans were kept, we find they were in the main front hall, the atrium where visitors would be received. The same is true of the main household water supply. Slaves would be coming to get these things all the time and would be far from invisible."

Dr Allison has been working on Pompeii for over 20 years. Her previous study was to look at 30 houses in the light of the everyday objects that had been largely ignored in favour of more exotic finds. She became fascinated by what the actual objects might have been used for and who might have used them.

"Today we have hundreds of very specific gadgets," she said, "but in a non-gadget world you have a number of things used for a variety of purposes, such as pots that might have been wine dippers and spindle whorls that were used as furniture ornamentation.

"Also, we assume we know about doctors in the Roman world. We believe that whenever we find medical instruments they belonged to doctors. But I think that a lot more high-level first aid went on within households. We have found surgical instruments in domestic contexts and I think someone in the house was responsible for sewing up injured people. Nowadays we have a much more specialised approach to looking after the human body."

Dr Allison also speculates on the amount of cooking that went on in the huge kitchens in affluent Roman households. "I found little braziers and flat vessels that were burned underneath that might have been used round the house, more like our barbecues, indicating that food was heated up in front of diners. Maybe Roman cooking smells did not offend these diners."

She has found no sets of tableware in Pompeian houses such as are found in Roman burial sites. Formal dining could have been very rare, she surmises, with people perhaps eating 'on the wing', much as busy families do today.

The implications of her research and recent book stretch beyond Pompeii itself, to how other Roman sites can be interpreted. Because of the suddenness of its destruction, Pompeii offers a context for the artefacts that are found, in a way that virtually no other site can do.

She has been looking at objects found in the same room and speculating on what that suggests in terms of usage of such objects. "For instance, why were this plate and these lamps found together? Were they indicative of some kind of offering? What were the lamps for? What was the situation that brought them together, and how would you have lit this space?" she asks.

Other finds that have puzzled her are the large quantities of heavy stone weights and scales in houses. "Today everything has its weight written on it when we buy it," she explains, "but in the Roman world everything would have to be weighted coming in and out of the houses.

"Also, where there are a number of looms found in one house, does this imply commercial activity? Not necessarily. We need to think more carefully about the relationship between commercial wool shops and the houses. Did women buy wool from shops and weave for their own household, selling off the surplus? We don't know, this is not something archaeologists have looked at. Was weaving done by both men and women? We would assume men were involved in any commercial environment, but this is just our conception.

"We are taking Roman domestic life into a more intellectual realm," Dr Allison said, adding a caution. "Domestic life in the past was not necessarily the same as it is nowadays."


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Adapted from materials provided by University of Leicester.
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 MLA University of Leicester (2007, April 27). Everyday Life In Pompeii Revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 26, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2007/04/070424091412.htm
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« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2008, 09:41:09 am »










                            Shedding Light On The Darkening Of Ancient Pompeii's Paintings







ScienceDaily
(Nov. 1, 2006)

— Artists in ancient Pompeii painted the town red 2,000 years ago with a brilliant crimson pigment that dominated many of the doomed city's wall paintings. Now scientists in Europe report why those paintings are undergoing a mysterious darkening.

Marine Cotte and co-authors studied samples of those unique red pigments from wall paintings in a house near Pompeii that was buried under ash during the infamous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

The paint, which used pigment made from red mercuric sulfide (called Cinnabar, HgS), was preserved under ash until excavations began in 1988. Since the 1990s, however, the brilliant red paintings have darkened and deteriorated.

In a report scheduled for the Nov. 1 issue of the ACS semi-monthly journal Analytical Chemistry, the authors describe how they used micro x-ray fluorescence and x-ray absorption spectroscopy at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility to determine how the darkening could happen.

The findings will help curators and restorers to develop better methods for preserving the brilliant artwork from ancient Rome, the report states.


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Adapted from materials provided by American Chemical Society.
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 MLA American Chemical Society (2006, November 1). Shedding Light On The Darkening Of Ancient Pompeii's Paintings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 26, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2006/10/061030120603.htm
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« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2008, 09:43:20 am »










              Research Recreates Ancient Roman Virtual Reality With 21st Century 3-D Technology







ScienceDaily
(May 21, 2003)

— The remains of Pompeii’s ancient villas show that the Romans decorated their villas with extravagant wall paintings of theatre scenes that used tricks of perspective to impress guests with what seemed at the time an early version of virtual reality. Now, researchers at the University of Warwick are transforming these ancient forms of perspective painting into the 21st century version of virtual reality using 3-D digital models that allow viewers to tread the boards of long-lost Roman theatres.

The ancient wall paintings of stage-sets suggest 3-D architectural structures on 2-D surfaces. The technique of perspective scenic painting, or skegnographia, first evolved in 5th century BC Greek theatre and embellished flat façades of stage buildings. Later, the Romans adapted the skill to decorate their homes.

The project, carried out by The University of Warwick’s e-lab in conjunction with Professor Richard Beacham from the University’s School of Theatre Studies, combines the Roman wall paintings and state-of-the-art computer modelling to transform our understanding of ancient stages. From the ancient ornate wall paintings, the structure and scenes of the actual stage buildings are recreated, so researchers can explore 3-D theatre models and provide insights impossible to obtain from a flat diagram or book.

Professor Richard Beacham, from the University of Warwick, said: “We’ve created the world’s first computer generated 3-D models of early temporary wooden sets from paintings. These are used to recreate virtual performances, and virtual actors can be put on the stages, so you can see what it would have been like to be a member of the audience. The reconstructions enable viewers to step into and navigate ancient stages. Space and time are dislocated as viewers zoom around 3-D fly-throughs of ancient images.”

The original Pompeiian and Herculaneum stage set paintings are used as evidence to develop virtual reality models. Photographs, ancient texts, depictions of deteriorated or lost frescos and interpretations of Roman stage formats help generate historically accurate stage-sets.

One challenge is to discern the real stage image within the impossible and fantastic painted architecture embellishing it. By revisiting the paintings with computer modelling it is possible to pull out the real architecture and then work out what the actual theatres looked like.

Drew Baker, from e-lab at the University of Warwick, said: “Theatre was an integral part of Roman culture and the wall paintings enable us to understand theatre, politics and culture during the transition from Republic to Empire. The new virtual ‘theatre museums’ open up new possibilities, and are more engaging than conventional museums. Until now, museum visitors were expected to appreciate the art and history of the theatre by examining static displays, miniature stage sets, and two-dimensional photographs or drawings.”

The technology can also restore lost or dispersed paintings to their original locations within particular houses in virtual form.


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Adapted from materials provided by University Of Warwick.
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« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2008, 09:45:09 am »



             

               A wall showing the heavy damage due to
               blackening of cinnabar in the Poppea's villa
               in Oplonti.


(Credit:
Mario Pagano)








                                                           Recovering Pompeii







ScienceDaily
(Nov. 13, 2006)

— Artists in ancient Pompeii painted the town red 2,000 years ago with a brilliant crimson pigment that dominated many of the doomed city's wall paintings. Now scientists from France and Italy are reporting in the journal Analytical Chemistry why those paintings are undergoing a mysterious darkening. The synchrotron light of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble (France) has provided new insight into this process and what produces it.

On 24 August of the year 79 AD, the volcano Vesuvius erupted burying its neighbouring towns in pumice and ash. The Villa Sora, in Torre del Greco, had since then remained inexistent, until twenty years ago, when excavation works brought it back to light. In the remains of the house, the distinctive red colour of the wall frescoes has turned black in many places since the excavation in a quick degradation process which is not well understood scientifically.

Scientists have been wondering for many years why the red in Pompeii walls, made of cinnabar (HgS), turns black. Already in the 1st century BC, Vitruvius, in his treatise "De Architectura", mentions the problem, which at that time, was prevented by applying a sort of protective varnish based on "punic wax". The causes and mechanisms responsible for cinnabar discolouration have remained a mystery until now; consequently conservators are unable to prevent the phenomenon from occurring. The most commonly acknowledged answer is that the exposure to the sun transforms cinnabar into another phase, metacinnabar, which is presented in a black colour. Recently a Franco-Italian team of researchers had studied four samples of wall paint from Villa Sora using the ESRF synchrotron light to verify whether this statement was correct.

The team found out that the chemical composition in the altered pieces was completely different than metacinnabar, and that important chemical reactions had taken place in the various samples. On the one hand, cinnabar had reacted with chlorine and led to the formation of grey chlorine-mercury compounds. The chlorine came from the sea and possibly "punic wax". On the other hand, the sulfation of calcite resulted in the development of black coating on the painting surface.

The scientists looked further and investigated the cross-section of one of the samples to map the depth of alteration of the painting. They realised that this layer was only around 5 microns thick and that underneath the cinnabar stayed intact.
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« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2008, 09:50:17 am »









Weather and contamination



So what makes the red turn into black so quickly? “The chemical distribution of the samples is not stable, which means that atmospheric conditions probably play a role in this change of colours”, explains Marine Cotte, the first author of the paper. “The sun surely influences this process, but the rain may possibly do too”, she adds. Atmospheric contamination or bacterial activities can also contribute to sulfation mechanisms. “The research carried out at the ESRF has an extraordinary importance not only for conservation of wall paintings of Villa Sora, but in general for preservation of roman wall paintings discovered in the most important Roman archeological sites (such as Pompeii and Herculaneum)”, explains Corrado Gratziu, Professor Emeritus in geology, with a specialization in petrology of sedimentary rocks, at the University of Pisa, and who is also part of the team.

The experiments performed at the ESRF needed a very small (from 100 μm to less than 1 μm) and intense beam in order to detect low concentrations of elements and to provide detailed chemical information. They were performed on the X-ray microscopy beamline (ID21) by combining the techniques of micro X-ray fluorescence mapping and micro X-ray absorption spectroscopy. The former was used to detect the chlorine and sulphur presence, the latter to identify their speciation, i.e. the way they are bounded to other atoms.

This research is still far from being finished: “The next step is to examine more samples and not only from frescoes in the archaeological site but also from those in museums. In this way, we will be able to compare the results and better establish the causes for their degradation”, explains Marine Cotte.



http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061101151222.htm

Pompeii ancient city was inscribed at the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 1997. It is the most visited archaeological site in Europe according to the Italian ministry of Foreign affairs.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Adapted from materials provided by European Synchrotron Radiation Facility.
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« Reply #25 on: October 10, 2008, 02:50:32 pm »









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    Fish Sauce Used to Date Pompeii Eruption
« on: October 04, 2008, 01:18:15 am » Quote 

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Fish Sauce Used to Date Pompeii Eruption
Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News


Fateful Day | Video: Discovery Archaeology Sept. 29, 2008 -- Remains of rotten fish entrails have helped establish the precise dating of Pompeii's destruction, according to Italian researchers who have analyzed the town's last batch of garum, a pungent, fish-based seasoning.

Frozen in time by the catastrophic eruption that covered Pompeii and nearby towns nearly 2,000 years ago with nine to 20 feet of hot ash and pumice, the desiccated remains were found at the bottom of seven jars.

The find revealed that the last Pompeian garum was made entirely with bogues (known as boops boops), a Mediterranean fish species that abounded in the area in the summer months of July and early August.

"Analysis of their contents basically confirmed that Mount Vesuvius most likely erupted on 24 August 79 A.D., as reported by the Roman historian Pliny the Younger in his account on the eruption," Annamaria Ciarallo, director of Pompeii's Applied Research Laboratory told Discovery News.

The vessels were unearthed several years ago in the house of Aulus Umbricius Scaurus, Pompeii's most famous garum producer.

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/09/29/pompeii-fish-sauce.html
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« Reply #26 on: October 10, 2008, 02:54:34 pm »









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    Tracing urban development in ancient Pompeii
« on: October 04, 2008, 01:21:48 am » Quote 

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Tracing urban development in ancient Pompeii

September 19, 2008 -- During SF State's first archeological field school in Pompeii this summer students unearthed a preserved drain pipe and its contents from the first century -- evidence that will provide clues about the urban development of Pompeii.



Excavation in progress at the SF State archeological field school in Pompeii.

Led by Assistant Professor of Classics Michael Anderson, students spent seven weeks in Pompeii, the Italian city buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the first century, where they were exposed to cutting-edge technology and archeological search techniques.

"The season went very well and the students had a marvelous time" Anderson said. "We cleaned two areas down to the level of the 79 C.E. eruption and dug one test trench where we found a first century drain pipe and its contents. This will be useful for reconstructing the activities of the shop that was on that site."

The field school is run in collaboration with the Via Consolare Project, a research project, started by Anderson in 2005, that investigates the process and history of urbanization in Pompeii and its suburbs. The project is named for the street it examines and focuses on two sites along the Via Consolare: a city block near the heart of Pompeii and the area around Villa delle Colonne a Mosaico, a large villa just outside the city wall.

"Comparing these two locations allows us to look at the development of the whole city and to test the validity of preconceived notions of the difference between urban and suburban space in the ancient world," said Anderson, who has spent more than a decade carrying out excavations in Pompeii.
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« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2008, 02:58:19 pm »




               

Remains of the Villa delle Colonne a Mosaico, an area that once comprised a villa, metalworking and pottery workshops, civic buildings, bars, and tombs.









"We are looking at changes in Pompeii that are not yet understood. A lot of attention has been paid to the evidence preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius, but our research goes back hundreds of years before that and explains more about southern Italy before Roman rule," Anderson said. With a doctorate in classical archeology from the University of Cambridge, Anderson's expertise includes ancient daily life and the Roman house.

During the next academic year, faculty and students in the classics department will be processing huge volumes of material collected in Pompeii. Survey information and photographs need converting into 3-D models and the team is designing and populating a digital archive of material records, photos and sketches. In his research, Anderson has championed the use of open source technology including the use of video game software to produce 3-D models -- tools he hopes to eventually introduce as part of the field school.

The 2009 field school will include opportunities for participation by students from SF State and other universities and there are plans to provide class credit the College of Extended Learning. See the Web site for more details: http://www.sfsu.edu/~pompeii/

-- Elaine Bible


http://www.sfsu.edu/~news/2008/fall/7.html
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    Saving ancient Pompeii from modern threats
« on: October 04, 2008, 01:26:59 am » Quote 

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                                          Saving ancient Pompeii from modern threats






By Elisabetta Povoledo
Published: July 27, 2008

POMPEII, Italy: Citing threats to public security and to the site itself, the Italian government has for the first time declared a yearlong state of emergency for the ancient city of Pompeii.

Nearly 2,000 years after Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii under pumice and steaming volcanic ash, some 2.6 million tourists tramp annually through this archaeological site, which is on Unesco's World Heritage list.

Frescoes in the ancient Roman city, one of Italy's most popular attractions, fade under the blistering sun or are chipped at by souvenir hunters. Mosaics endure the brunt of tens of thousands of shuffling thongs and sneakers. Teetering columns and walls are propped up by wooden and steel scaffolding. Rusty padlocks deny access to recently restored houses, and custodians seem to be few and far between.

This month, the government drafted a retired lawman, Renato Profili, the former prefect of Naples, to map out a strategy to combat neglect and degradation at the site. Profili has been given special powers for one year so he can bypass the Italian bureaucracy and speedily bolster security and stop the disintegration.

The hope is that many houses and villas now closed to the public and exposed to looting and vandalism will soon be opened and protected.

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"Pompeii is a calling card of Italy for foreigners, and it's important that their impression be positive," said the Italian culture minister, Sandro Bondi. He directed Profili to crack down on "blatant abuses" like unlicensed tour guides and the souvenir vendors who aggressively approach tourists.

Bondi also said that Profili would explore "new forms of innovative management" in which private sponsors might be recruited to finance improvements.

Government red tape is blamed for some of the inefficiencies at Pompeii. "If I have to fix a broken wall," said Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, the superintendent of the ruins, "I first have to put out a tender for an architect to evaluate the damage.

"Then I have to put out a tender for a company to fix the wall. Then I have to see if I have enough money in my budget to pay for the repair, and then finally the work begins.

"If he can bypass all that, it would be very positive."

Guzo added, "Is there an emergency? I don't know, I've always been very clear about the problems at Pompeii. The situation here is so immense that ordinary means haven't been able to control it."

The 44-hectare, or 109-acre, ruins (another 20 hectares or so are underground) are severely understaffed. Workers are prone to wildcat strikes that can leave visitors standing outside locked gates. Local criminal organizations must constantly be kept at bay when bids are solicited for maintenance work or for operating public concessions at the site.

Still, Guzzo said he had made some progress since he assumed his post in 1995. Visitors now have access to 35 percent of the ruins, compared with 14 percent when he first arrived. He said, however, that this improvement was "a drop in the bucket."

Some experts say that Profili will not have an easy time. "I truly hope that he's able to do everything he wants to, but at Pompeii no one wants to change anything," said Luigi Crimaco, an archaeologist.

Crimaco should know. For about two and a half years ending in 2006, he was part of a three-man team responsible for managing Pompeii. He said he had often been hamstrung by restrictive laws leaving him little leeway to address problems.

"The preservation of cultural heritage means ensuring that they survive forever," Crimaco said. "To protect Pompeii, it's necessary to invest and bring in people and outside capital able to inject vitality into the ancient city."

Ticket-sale proceeds and financing from the European Union and local governments have not met Pompeii's bottomless financial needs. "Modern cities are constantly plagued by unforeseen expenses," said Giuseppe Proietti, the culture ministry's secretary general. "Just put that in the context of an enormous ancient site exposed to the elements."

That chronic shortfall has brought suggestions that investors should operate Pompeii. The ruins should "be put in a condition where people can best appreciate their beauty, because that's money to the area," said Antonio Irlando, an architect and the president of a local conservation group that meticulously monitors Pompeii's cracking walls, falling stones, abandoned work sites and flaking intonaco, the thin layer of plaster on which a fresco is painted. "This is an area with high unemployment - and that shouldn't be the case, because it has an immense patrimony."

Claudio Velardi, culture and tourism chief for the Campania region, which includes Pompeii, has suggested an "American-style" sponsorship of the site, in which a business would reap image benefits if not a tangible financial return.



http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/07/27/europe/pompeii.php
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Bianca
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« Reply #29 on: October 10, 2008, 03:05:52 pm »









Krystal Coenen
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                                       Re: Saving ancient Pompeii from modern threats






« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2008, 01:34:23 am » Quote 

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But around the globe there is always considerable unease with the notion of the privatization of cultural heritage. "Pompeii is a government responsibility; it's a World Heritage site, and they don't want it to become too much of a Disneyland," said Steven J.R. Ellis of the University of Cincinnati, a director of a research project at Porta Stabia, one of Pompeii's ancient gates.

"The concern is that private investment will swing interests into making money at Pompeii rather than its cultural upkeep and the assurance that funds are given over to conservation," Ellis said.

Despite the deterioration and the bad publicity, the ruins still inspire awe.

"It's wonderful," said Maria Nappi, a tourist from Connecticut who was visiting with her family. She said the site gave her a "wonderful sense of life back then, and their art and love of beauty."

As for the crumbling state of the ruins, she said it "was just Mother Nature taking over," adding: "It doesn't matter if it's here or France or the United States."
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