Controversy rages as Pompeii continues to crumble

Pompeii, Romean, archaeology, archeologyMore bad news from Pompeii. The famous Roman city, preserved by volcanic ash from an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD, is starting to fall apart.

The BBC reports that two ancient walls have fallen down this week in separate parts of the city.

Officials say the problems are due to heavy rainfall, but the site has been underfunded for years. A recent cash injection was so badly managed that there’s now an investigation into possible mob connections. There are also calls for Italy’s culture minister to step down.

The problem first received global attention with the collapse of the House of Gladiators early in November. Unlike the House of Gladiators, officials say the walls that fell down this week had no artistic value, which is totally missing the point. They have a priceless archaeological value, so much so that Pompeii has long been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hopefully Italy will realize that a site can be taken off the World Heritage List if it’s not properly maintained, and find some money to save one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations.

[Photo courtesy user jon|k via Gadling's flickr pool]