UNESCO studies Pompeii troubles

Pompeii, pompeii, Italy, italy, Roman, archaeology
A UNESCO team has arrived at Pompeii to investigate the recent collapses of ancient walls and buildings, All Headline News reports.

Two Roman walls collapsed earlier this week, and in November the House of Gladiators fell down. Authorities blame heavy rains but there’s a growing controversy over the lack of maintenance at the site.

The Roman city was buried in ash during an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. The ash kept the city remarkably preserved, making it one of the world’s top archaeological treasures.

The team will study the site and give suggestions as to how to preserve it, but the investigators have made clear that it is Italy’s responsibility to do the work. The Italian government has created a task force of archaeologists, craftsmen, and architects to shore up the walls and buildings. Considering that the last conservation project at Pompeii is under investigation for mob connections, it remains to be seen how effective this new task force will be.

[Photo courtesy user Alago via Wikimedia Commons]

House of Gladiators in Pompeii collapses

Italian Archaeologists are enraged at Saturday’s collapse of the House of Gladiators in Pompeii. The 40 ft. wide structure had recently undergone reconstruction work on its roof, which might have contributed to its total collapse during heavy rains early on Saturday morning. An even greater culprit may turn out to be the Italian Arts Ministry. The ministry’s secretary general, Roberto Cecchi, admitted the building hasn’t had routine maintenance for more 50 years.

Now archaeologists, environmentalists, and conservationists are calling for the arts minister to resign and are demanding an investigation.

The Schola Armaturarum was buried like the rest of Pompeii when the nearby Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. There is some debate about the building’s original use, with archaeologists unsure if it was a school, an armory, or something else. A series of frescos of winged Victories bearing weapons has led many researchers to draw the conclusion that the building was reserved for gladiators. Pompeii receives millions of visitors every year and while the building wasn’t open to the public, it was next to a walkway. If the collapse had happened during opening hours, archaeologists warn, people could have been injured or killed.

State prosecutors are already investigating how funding for the site has been used and if there has been any Mafia involvement. Huge cuts to arts and culture funding has prompted a Italian museum strike on November 12.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Herculaneum on display in Italy

I can still picture the Time Life book photograph of a child turned into stone from the eruption of Vesuvius. It was one of those elementary school images that captured my attention and hasn’t let go.

Okay, I think it was a Time Life book and I think the photo was a child, but for sure that eruption in Pompeii centuries before I hit 2nd grade has had the power to show just how fragile we are when it comes to natural disasters. Pompeii wasn’t the only town that met with destruction from Vesuvius’s handiwork. Herculaneum was also destroyed. According to this USA Today article, Herculaneum was where wealthy Romans liked to frequent because of its seaside views.

There’s an exhibit of the artifacts that have been uncovered over the centuries at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, Italy. Among the bounty are large marble statues and smaller bronze ones that highlight the opulence of the time.

The exhibit is up through April 13. This Wikipedia photo is of a boathouse in Herculaneum.