Notes on Issues of Conservation and Reconstruction: Italian and International
Contributions and Responsibilities;
IMPACT OF TOURISM
Since discovery in 1748 it has been both the pioneer and victim of every trend in archaeology and excavation.
Exposed to an 'avalanche of tourists' (SMH 2003) 22,000 visitors on certain days.
Exposed tot he elements.
Lack of Funding.
Pompeii was bombed by the Allies in WWII
Article by Henri De Saint-Blanquat in Science et Avenir argues:
Wallace-Hadril, a British Classical scholar is critical of the neglect of the site. He believes, "Man is wreaking a damage far greater than Vesuvius." He argues that unless constant efforts are made to arrest decay, the site will crumble to nothing within decades.
Other points include:
Issues at Herculaneum
The most valuable finds are in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.
Some historians such as Deiss believes that:
Fiorelli's plaster casts were a major breakthrough.
Many areas are still to be uncovered in Pompeii, but it is even more important to restore what has already been excavated. Today 44 of the 66 hectares of urban area are visible, and it is unanimously considered tha tthe other 22 hectares must be left under the volcanic debris, in order to preserve this important part of our past for future generations.
Recommended Web site - Answers.com
Some snippets from the site
Particularly in Herculaneum, the earliest excavations revolvd around collecting valuable artefacts and antiquities rather than systematic excavation. By merely digging for objects with aesthetic and commercial value, they were taken from being in situ to private collections and thus much of the information on them was lost. Additionally, other objects ot considered worthy by pursuers of Antiquarianism were destroyed, or damaged in the process of retrieving other items.
Tourism has been a mixed blessin for the site. As there are 2.5 million visitors to both cities each year, their presence allows for education on the conservation issues on the site. Additionally, a law was passed in Italy in 1997, which allowed for all money raised from these tourists to be directly channeled to helping with the conservation of the site. In 2003, two frescoes were hacked off a wall in the House of Chaste Lovers in Pompeii. This act of theft also damaged several other frescoes in the hosue and though a camera system exists in Pompeii, it had been out of operation for several months when the event took place. These frescoes were recovered some months later, but many others disappear from the site, never to be returned.
Recently, Pietro Giovanni Guzzo declared a moratorium on all further excavations of both sites. As superintendent, he decided that all funds should be diverted into preserving the remains of both cities, rather than excavating more when massive amounts of work is still needed on the areas already unearthed. This has caused controversy amongst historians and archaeologists, and has become the centre of the debate on whether to focus on conservation or excavation. Classicists argue that only by continuing excavations can more ancient texts be found to reveal more about ancient Roman life. In particular, they pin their hopes on the unexcavated chamber of the Villa of the Papyri, where over 1800 carbonised papyrus rolls have been discovered containing works of Epicurean philosophy by Philodemus. However, those in favour of conservation argue that the texts are much safer underground than exposed, and we still have much to draw from what has already been excavated.
Minor excavations, such as that of the House of the Surgeon currently being undertaken by the Anglo-American Project at Pompeii, are still allowed. However, no new sites are open to be excavated.
Herculaneum Conservation Project
As a joint project led by the Packard Humanities Institute and the Soprintendenza Archaeologica di Pompeii, the project aims to initially embark on emergency work in Herculaneum, including restoration of wall paintings and mosaics, and stabilisation of structures, which will hopefully transform into more long-term work on the conservation of the site. Falconers are also employed by the project to keep away pigeons, and nets are also being installed to deter them from the site. They are also working on allowing more effective drainage on the site; due to its topography, rain that falls on Herculaneum polls within the Roman buildings, damaging brickwork, mosaics and wall paintings.
Scientific research is an important element to the project, to understand how best to preserve the materials on the site, and to remove some of the foreign elements introduced to it. A survey is also being carried out to explore long-term solutions to conservation.
Due to the ever-present need for funding in Pompeii, the Soprintendenza has developed business enterprises to raise funds for conservation and repair. This allows for private businesses to contribute to the conservation of the site; however, this often results in institutions paying for one specific house or monument to be saved, rather than concentrating on the whole of the two cities.
Pompeii also receives additional funds from the European Union, the World Monuments Fund and UNESCO.