Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Collapse In Pompeii again renews criticisms

Europe News

Pompeii under threat as Italy struggles to maintain sites
By Katie Kahle Oct 26, 2011, 3:06 GMT

Rome - The partial crumbling of a wall in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii last week has caused serious embarrassment to the government of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The damage came less than a year after the spectacular collapse of a gladiator house on the site.

International concern has been mounting that not enough is being done to protect Italy's historical sites, as the heavily indebted country struggles to cope with recession and the effects of the global economic crisis.

Culture Minister Giancarlo Galan tried to calm critics, promising that Pompeii - a UNESCO World Heritage site - will be the 'utmost priority' for his ministry.

Galan was appointed to the post after the previous minister, Sandro Bondi, resigned in the wake of the collapse of the gladiator house. Another wall also suffered damage.

Bondi initially survived a no-confidence vote over accusations of neglect and mismanagement of the site in January, but finally resigned in March.

Concern over Pompeii was revived on Friday, when a portion of its external walls near the Porta di Nola gate collapsed. Several cubic metres of rubble are now all that remains of the structure, according to media reports.

Experts attribute the collapse - as well as that of the gladiator house - to heavy and persistent autumnal rains.

Pompeii was buried by ash when the nearby Mount Vesuvius volcano erupted in AD 79. The disaster left the city superbly preserved until its accidental rediscovery in 1749.

However, a lack of state funds has left what is probably Italy's most important excavation site in danger of sustaining continuous damage, in a development that Berlusconi's critics see as symbolizing the decadence of the entire country.

The only way the 66-hectare site can be secured for the future is through constant high-level maintenance, experts agree.

A plan approved by the Culture Ministry has already been handed over to the relevant authorities - but safeguarding the site requires money.

Galan, who is set to visit Pompeii on Wednesday with European Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn, is looking for the EU to unblock funding for the site.

The Italian plan for Pompeii cannot be implemented without an injection of 105 million euros (145 million dollars), which have already been pledged by the EU, said Teresa Cinquantaquattro, superintendent of the site.

She also requested extra staff.

'There will be 20 to 25 people coming (to Pompeii) by the end of the year, with another 20 coming in 2012,' Galan's under-secretary Riccardo Villari promised recently.

Yet the government has made similar promises before - without keeping them. Italian media describe the absent staff at Pompeii as 'victims of the financial crisis.'

Italy has the second-highest level of national debt in the eurozone after Greece. Austerity measures worth 100 billion euros that were approved in the summer did not touch the culture budget, but it had already been slashed several times before.

Italia Nostra, a private organization that works to protect Italy's historical and cultural heritage, has described the current situation as dramatic.

The laboratory in Pompeii responsible for restoring the site's frescoes only has three conservators, Italia Nostra said. There is also a shortage of security personnel, leaving parts of Pompeii completely unprotected, it warned.

Villari is now raising the prospect of a 'Save Pompeii' campaign, which would seek sponsors for the site, as was done with the Colosseum in Rome.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 Field Season Pompeii

Hi all,
well I am back at home in my favourite place, Pompeii. The 2011 field season has begun and we have now started working in the scavi. This is just a short note to let you know that we have started and I will post a longer blog and some activities for my students tonight when I get to download my first photos of the season.
Let me tell you that it is certainly a different start to last season. No cold snap or rain; 30 deg temperatures from the moment I hit the ground in Italy.The pool here at the hotel has already become welcome relief after a days work. We got our work permits with no issue or hold up this year which also has been great. Interestingly, I feel that the tourist numbers seem down. Been relatively quiet in the scavi so far this week.
Our work this season will see us in some exciting properties. The House of Julia Felix, Chaste Lovers and Julius Polibius, The House of the Surgeon and House of the Vestals. The team is also now two teams, one completing remediation full time.
This season I am leading a photo team for the Remediation team. More to come tonight.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Slow Start to 2011

Hi everyone,

sorry about the slow start to 2011. Seems there has been a lot going on and I have finally sorted a bunch of stuff out so I can resume blogging my adventures in Ancient History and Archaeology.
2011 has not been a quiet year in the field so I have a lot of news, at least the most recent stuff, to catch you up on. Some most recent stuff about Pompeii and Herculaneum.

It's now only 8 weeks till work begins for me in the field with Pompeii Food and Drink and I am as excited as ever. Many of the team of volunteers from last year are coming back along with some new faces so I know we are going to have a blast. It is the only job you can do where the work is as much fun as the down time.

I am planning some new things this year including a podcast for Ancient History and Archaeology geeks like us and possibly an Ancient History expo towards the end of the year. The podcast will help me bring to you some of the most wonderful people who work in the field (particularly in Pompeii) and allow both teachers and archaologists to discuss the ins and outs of new discoveries, happenings and issues and also things that affect you, Ancient History students and enthusiasts, many of whom are completing studies in the discipline.

I am also begining to be invited to various schools to give presentations on Pompeii and my experiences there and work in the field as a member of the Pompeii Food and Drink team. Happy to attend any school to do this as long as you contact my Principal to arrange it.

At present, most of my Pompeii field work photos are in albums on my personal Facebook page. I will investigate starting up a Rob Brown Archaeologist Facebook page so that I can post the field work and appropriate pictures there. It will also provide a forum for comments and discussion as well as questions you may like answered for your studies.

Finally I am hoping to gain more experience excavation a little closer to home. I have made representations to the local council to begin an archaeological excavation on a small scale at a local colonial property close to home and school. It will allow me to not only develop my experience in excavation techniques but allow me to teach my students in the field not just out of texts with regards to archaeology. As red tape slowly gets processed and hoops are jumped through I'll cross fingers this eventuates. Some test survey work on the site was very productive with both brickwork and ceramic finds.

Anyway, I'll begin reposting news and information shortly.