, Italy — Destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, Pompeii survived excavation starting in the 18th century and has stoically borne the wear and tear of millions of modern-day tourists.
But now, its deep-hued frescoes, brick walls and elegant tile mosaics appear to be at risk from an even greater threat: the bureaucracy of the Italian state.
In recent years, collapses at the site have alarmed conservationists, who warn that this ancient Roman city is dangerously exposed to the elements — and is poorly served by the red tape, the lack of strategic planning and the limited personnel of the site’s troubled management.
The site’s decline has captured the attention of the European Union, which began a $137 million effort in February that aims to balance preservation with accessibility to tourists. Read more.
It was one of the most destructive natural disasters in history, a volcanic eruption eradicating all traces of life in its wake.
But a major new exhibition on Pompeii and Herculaneum will show the lives of their people before the explosion in 79AD, and particularly how the Roman Empire’s citizens celebrated beauty and decoration in even the most routine of objects.
It will feature fresh discoveries and previously unseen treasures from the Roman cities destroyed by Mount Vesuvius, including recently unearthed jewels, art works and household items, as vivid the day they were last used.
Miraculously preserved by the volcanic ash that engulfed both cities in southern Italy, they provide an extraordinary glimpse into the daily lives of their owners. Read more.
POMPEII, Italy — Conservation workers at the long-neglected Roman city of Pompeii began a 105-million euro ($142-million) makeover partly funded by the EU on Wednesday, a day after former site managers were put under investigation for corruption.
The project, which is being funded to the tune of 41.8 million euros from the European Union and is to be completed by 2015, is seen as crucial for the survival of Pompeii after a series of collapses at the 44-hectare site in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius.
The giant erupting volcano devastated Pompeii nearly 2,000 years ago in 79 AD but the ash and rock helped preserve many buildings almost in their original state, as well as forming eery shapes around the curled-up corpses of victims of the disaster. Read more.
The residents of the ancient city of Pompeii weren’t limited to street-level plumbing, a new study finds. In fact, many in the city may have headed upstairs when nature called.
Most second floors in the Roman city are gone, claimed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii in A.D. 79. But vertical pipes leading to lost second stories strongly suggest that there were once toilets up there, according to a new analysis by A. Kate Trusler, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Missouri.
“We have 23 toilets that are connected, that are second-story preserved, that are connected to these downpipes,” Read more.
Think of it as the earliest version of the Facebook wall post: Ancient Pompeii residents revealed their social networks through graffiti on actual walls.
Now, a new analysis of some of these scribbled messages reveals the walls of the wealthy were highly sought after, especially for political candidates hoping to drum up votes. The findings suggest that Pompeii homeowners may have had some control over who got artistic on their walls, said study researcher Eeva-Maria Viitanen, an archaeologist at the University of Helsinki.
“The current view is that any candidate could have chosen any location and have their ad painted on the wall. After looking at the contexts, this would not seem very likely,” Viitanen told LiveScience. Read more.
Part of the wall of a house in the ancient city of Pompeii collapsed November 30, raising fresh concerns about the state of one of the world’s most treasured archaeological sites. Officials said the wall was part of a 2,000-year-old house on the Vicolo del Modesto, in a section of the site that had already been declared off limits to the public for safety reasons.
About two square meters (yards) of the wall were involved in the collapse, which occurred after heavy rain storms in most of southern Italy.
The street where the collapse took place is located in an area of the dig that came to light in excavations in the 19th century. Read more.
HERCULANEUM, Italy — They are poignant snapshots of sudden death: huddled clusters of skeletal remains in what were once beachfront warehouses, immortalized for eternity when Mount Vesuvius smothered this ancient Roman town in A.D. 79.
“They died of thermal shock as they were waiting to be saved via the sea,” Domenico Camardo, an archaeologist, said recently as he surveyed dozens of modern-day skeletal casts of long-ago denizens. They carried with them jewelry, coins, even “20 keys, because they were hoping to return home,” Mr. Camardo added. “They didn’t understand that it was all about to end.”
First excavated by archaeologists some 30 years ago, the warehouses were recently outfitted with walkways and gates to provide access to these chilling tableaus and will soon be open to the public on special occasions. Read more.
(Reuters) - The head of an ancient Roman statue that could be of the mother of Emperor Nero has been recovered after being missing for decades, Italian police said on Thursday.
The funerary piece was stolen between 25 and 30 years ago from Pompeii, a Roman town that was buried by a volcanic eruption in 79 AD and is now one of Italy’s most famous ancient sites.
“It is impossible to estimate its value in monetary terms, but it is of notable cultural and historical interest,” Captain Rocco Papaleo, who led the investigation told Reuters.
The statue dates from between 100 B.C and 50 A.D when Rome was at its most powerful as the capital of a world empire and was found after an investigation into the art market by the military police of Piacenza in northern Italy. Read more.