Monday, August 22, 2011

A ghost in the MANN

According to the newspaper "Il Mattino" there is photo showing the presence of a ghost (a young girl) in the MANN. It seems it was taken with a cell phone by the architect in charge of the works at the museum. Previously some workers had complained about unexplainable events happening in the structure. After that photo, the architect even decided to call some experts, who supposedly will arrive at the museum to test the presence of any phantom in September.

Here is the article with the picture in question.

Later today, on the newspaper Libero-news.it, the director of the MANN has denied everything, and has said that the photo was at least one year old and had already been shown to her. Click here for the article.

Hmmm, then I guess it was the young ghost who made collapse the shelf holding the obsidian cups! (for which see this blog entry).

And I bet it was her older cousin who caused the collapse of the Schola Armaturarum!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

New fasti entries and book reviews

I don't know about the rest of you, but my summer has been completely manic so far. However, I am slowly, slowly catching up with my RSS feeds now.

There are a few relevant entries in the FastiOnline this month:
Michael A. Anderson, 2011, Regio VII, insula VI and Villa delle Colonne a mosaico (reports on different field seasons here)

Mark Robinson, Domenico Esposito,  2011, Casa dei Gladiatori (V 5, 3)

John J. Dobbins, 2011, Foro di Pompei

Albert Ribera, Jean-Pierre Brun, 2011, Pompei VII 4, 26-28
There are a couple of reviews in the Journal of Roman Studies:
M. BEARD, POMPEII: THE LIFE OF A ROMAN TOWN. London: Profile, 2008. Reviewed by Joanna Paul.

P. GUZZO and M.-P. GUIDOBALDI (EDS), NUOVE RICERCHE ARCHEOLOGICHENELL’AREA VESUVIANA (SCAVI 2003–2006): ATTI DEL CONVEGNO INTERNAZIONALE,ROMA, 1–3 FEBBRAIO 2007 (Studi della Soprintendenza archeologica di Pompei 25). Rome: ‘L’Erma’ di Bretschneider, 2008. Reviewed by Virginia Campbell.

Villa D'Elboeuf on fire AGAIN

In March 2009 I reported that there had been a fire at the Villa d'Elboeuf in Portici. And now there is a new report of another fire this month:
Fiamme a villa d'Elboeuf: è l'allarme per le dimore vesuviane del Miglio d'oro
Incendio nella storica dimora nobiliare di Portici, disabitata e fatiscente da anni. Nessun danno a persone

NAPOLI - Non c'è pace per le ville vesuviane del «Miglio d'oro», in provincia di Napoli. Dopo il crollo, qualche mese fa, della facciata della villa della principessa Lancellotti a Portici, oggi è divampato un incendio nella storica Villa d'Elboeuf, nella stessa cittadina ai piedi del Vesuvio.

Fiamme, questa mattina, nell'edificio settecentesco fatiscente da anni, affacciato sul porto del Granatello. Nella struttura, fatta erigere nel 1711 dal Principe d'Elboeuf e da tempo disabitata, sono andati a fuoco sterpaglie e suppellettili sprigionando un denso fumo.

Sulla natura dell'incendio sono in corso indagini. Sul posto è giunta una pattuglia della polizia municipale e i Vigili del Fuoco del distaccamento di Ponticelli che hanno spento le fiamme. Nessun danno a persone.
Read the full article here. See here for a link to a video of the villa before the recent fire. What a great shame to see this lovely building in such a terrible condition. I wonder what survives of it now.

Books on offer

I've been contacted by Bob Leahy in the USA who has a number of books about Pompeii and Herculaneum that he would like to donate to a scholar or library (preferably in the USA). Would anyone be interested in the following, as described by Bob:

'I've come into the possession of four 1940s printed book guides to Pompeii and Herculaneum. They were intended to help tourists understand what they were seeing at those sites. Two of them seem to have been issued by the Italian government. They were inherited by a friend who doesn't know what to do with them. A relative was stationed in Italy during WWII, and picked them up there. When her parents died, she inherited of a box of similar items.
 
1.  It is simply entitled "Herculaneum".  It is 116 pages long.  It is produced by the Ministero Della Educazione Nazionale.  It is number 53 of a series of guide books to museums and monuments in Italy.  I can't find a copyright date, but I'd bet on 1944.  It has a gray soft-bound cover.
2.  It is simply entitled "Pompeii".  It is 149 pages long.  It is produced by the Ministero Della Educazione Nazionale.  It is number 3 of a series of guide books to museums and monuments in Italy.  I can't find a copyright date, but I'd bet on 1944.  It has a gray soft-bound cover.

3.  It is entitled "A Companion To The Visit Of Herculaneum".  It was written by Amedeo Maiuri.  It is 31 pages long.  It was published in 1944.  It has a white soft-bound cover.

4.  It is entitled "Pompeii - The Best Guide - Book To The Ruins".  It was written by Dr. M. Della Corte.  It is 56 pages long.  It was published in 1944.  It has a white soft-bound cover.'
 
Email me if you would like the books.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Newspaper article: Allarme per gli Scavi di Pompei: organizzazione interna allo sbando

From Il Gazzettino Vesuviano:
Disorganizzazione e scarsità del personale costringono la chiusura di alcune Domus
Allarme per gli Scavi di Pompei: organizzazione interna allo sbando

Brutta sorpresa per i visitatori degli scavi di Pompei. A dare la notizia, è Antonio Papa, segretario locale della CISL : “Durante la settimana di ferragosto verranno chiuse altre due Domus in aggiunta a quelle che in precedenza erano già state chiuse, per motivi di mancanza di personale”. La mancanza di personale è da rintracciare nella cattiva organizzazione di tutto l’apparato del sito. Il numero di custodi non è sufficiente, e molti non sono qualificati a svolgere tutte le mansioni necessarie. Le conseguenza sono evidentissime: non si riesce a garantire la sicurezza del sito, non si dà la possibilità alle migliaia di turisti provenienti da tutto il mondo di visitare completamente le aree accessibili degli scavi di Pompei. Come se non bastasse, vista la mancanza molto più seria di custodi nel sito archeologico di Boscoreale in questi giorni parte del personale appartenente al sito pompeiano è stato distaccato a Boscoreale.
Read the full article here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

'Pompeii's Dead Reimagined'

An article in Archaeology Magazine (Sept/Oct 2011, Vol 64, No 5) highlights the commissioning and creation of four models of original casts of victims of the AD 79 eruption.



Pompeii's Dead Reimagined
Volume 64 Number 5, September/October 2011
by Jarrett A. Lobell

An artist interprets the ancient city’s most evocative artifacts

Almost 150 years after Fiorelli made his first cast, artist Gary Staab was commissioned to make models of four original Pompeian casts for a special exhibition on Pompeii in New York (“Vesuvius Strikes Again,” May/June, 2011). In doing so, Staab created a new type of evidence. His models record not only these individuals’ deaths, but also the context in which the original casts were fashioned by Fiorelli and later archaeologists. Staab’s models are not precise replicas of these earlier casts, but rather interpretations of them. They are a product of technologies and materials not previously available and also of Staab’s own input as an artist.

You can read the rest of the article here.



Friday, August 12, 2011

Newspaper article: BENI CULTURALI: GALAN, CHI FA OFFERTA AVRA' NOME SU MONUMENTI

According to the following article, Minister Galan has said that one day private companies that pay for restoration work will have the right to put their names on the buildings they restored. Not sure how I feel about this - horror, is my first reaction, but if it means more restoration happens at Pompeii perhaps it's something I could learn to live with ...
BENI CULTURALI: GALAN, CHI FA OFFERTA AVRA' NOME SU MONUMENTI

(ASCA) - Roma, 12 ago - ''Un giorno, a fronte di una donazione per un restauro, si otterra' il diritto di una targhetta ricordo sul monumento''. Lo ha annunciato il ministro dei Beni culturali, Gianfranco Galan in un'intervista a 'Panorama' sottolineando che ''Pompei e' perfetta per questo''.

Proprio su Pompei, Galan rivendica di ''aver fornito tutte le condizioni possibili per la rinascita'', e sui fondi destinati agli scavi ''sono previsti comunque 80 milioni per la manutenzione straordinaria e l'assunzione di circa 30 persone''.

''Alle imprese che sostengono grandi progetti - aggiunge Galan in merito alla fiscalita' di vantaggio - bisogna concedere benefici fiscali. La nostra ricchezza culturale va intesa anche come un business, lo confermano gli sponsor internazionali che ho alle porte. Certo, gia' otto ministri si sono spesi su un disegno di legge simile, lo sto facendo anch'io. Provarci almeno e' un dovere''.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

UNESCO report

Thanks also to Didier Daimonax for posting to our FB page a link to the recent UNESCO report on the condition of Pompeii. What follows here is the Executive Summary and List of Recommendations. To read the full report, follow this link.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS

The joint ICOMOS/UNESCO mission to the World Heritage property of Pompei, Herculaneum was invited by the Italian government following the collapse of the Schola Armaturarum on the night of 5-6 November 2010. Because of adverse weather conditions, the mission took place in two parts. The ICOMOS experts visited from 1 to 5 December, and the UNESCO expert was on site from 10 to 13 January. The mission visited all three parts of the World Heritage property and examined the overall state of conservation as well as the specific collapse. This report has been produced jointly by the mission members.

The mission found that the Schola Armaturarum had collapsed following the heaviest rainfall in 80 years. The building is adjacent to an unexcavated portion of the site which encouraged waterlogging. It had been weakened by bombing in World War II and had then been given a heavy and inappropriate reinforced concrete roof. The mission did not consider that the collapse of the Schola, in itself, has had a significant impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property but agreed that further deterioration across the property could lead to significant damage to attributes that sustain the Outstanding Universal Value, authenticity and integrity in a few years.

Overall, the mission found that much of the property was in a good state of repair. They were concerned however by the poor state of maintenance of parts of the enormous site of Pompei and by the number of houses and other structures and requiring major conservation work at both Pompei and Herculaneum. They were also concerned by the gradual deterioration of wall paintings, mosaic floors and other decorative features. While some decay is inevitable in an exposed ruin, the mission considered that conditions were being exacerbated by excessive moisture and lack of routine maintenance. They were also concerned by the amount of plant growth, particularly ivy, in some places at Pompei, though elsewhere this is being vigorously tackled. Some of these structures are at risk and need urgent intervention. Generally, the backlog of maintenance at Pompei needs to be tackled urgently. Equally, drainage needs to be improved so that rain and ground water are readily and rapidly removed to prevent the damage being caused by waterlogging of the ground and by rising and penetrating damp in standing structures.

The mission considered that visitor management was an issue both in terms of potential erosion and in terms of increasing their enjoyment and education. They recognised that advances had been made both in terms of interpretation, arrangements for access and through the increasing number of houses which had been restored to permit access. However, these advances are to some extent negated by the lack of custodians which means that large parts of both Pompei and Herculaneum are not accessible to visitors on a regular basis. The mission considered that the development of a public use plan as part of the overall management system for the property could help the development of a more integrated approach to visitor management.

The mission fully recognises the skill and devotion of the staff of the Superintendency to their site. However, there are insufficient skilled professional staff to manage what needs to be done and they are entirely dependent on contractors for carrying out the necessary work. The mission believes that this has been exacerbated by diverting scarce resources to non-urgent projects such as the restoration of the theatre at Pompei. It is also probable that staff have been distracted by institutional instability over the last three years or so.

The mission was also concerned that there is no clear definition of the Outstanding Universal Value for the property to provide a base-line for effective management and conservation. There are also no measures for monitoring the condition of the property. Apart from Herculaneum there appeared to be an inadequate information base since the Geographic Information System (GIS) for Pompei contains no data from later than 2002. Pompei does have a Management Plan but it did not seem to be used as an effective tool for planning and driving management decisionmaking at the site. There is a need for a clearer focus on these issues and on focusing all efforts on key priorities. At Herculaneum the joint project between the Superintendency and the Herculaneum Conservation Project (HCP) has done much to eliminate the maintenance backlog there. With the life of the project drawing to a close, it is essential that the good practices developed there are closely studied by the Superintendency and adopted as far as possible across the property.

The mission concluded that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property had not yet been significantly compromised. However there are a considerable number of buildings at risk and a major backlog of conservation. If these are not tackled rapidly and urgently, there could be a significant risk to Outstanding Universal Value in the next few years. The mission also considers that more may need to be done to protect the visual setting of the property, particularly the vital visual links to Mount Vesuvius. The mission considers therefore that a further mission should visit the property within the next two years and that the World Heritage Committee should examine the state of conservation of the property again in 2013 to assess whether its condition has improved or worsened.

The Mission has made a number of recommendations which fall into four groups:

A. Immediate measures to improve conservation and maintenance
B. Measures to maintain and enhance the skills base and provide necessary information
C. Measures to improve the management of site and understanding of OUV
D. Follow-up action by UNESCO
A. Immediate measures to improve conservation and maintenance

Recommendation 1: The mission recommends that priority in work programmes should be given to dealing with the maintenance backlog at the property, the restoration of those buildings identified as being at risk by the mission together with any others identified in the condition survey carried out by the Superintendency.

Recommendation 2: The creation of effective drainage systems, particularly at Pompei, should be carried out as soon as possible to remove one of the basic causes of decay. As well as dealing with ground drainage, as far as possible rain should be prevented from entering roofed structures.

B. Measures to maintain and enhance the skills base and provide necessary information

Recommendation 3: The mission recommends that all contractors should be assessed for their ability to carry out skilled conservation work before they are allowed to tender for conservation work in the World Heritage property.

Recommendation 4: The Superintendency and Ministry of Culture should determine how many technical staff are required to carry out an effective programme to eradicate the current backlog of conservation and maintenance and should take steps to provide those resources as soon as possible.

Recommendation 5: The mission recommends the Superintendency and the Ministry of Culture to provide sufficient custody staff at Pompei, as a matter of urgency, to enable more of the property to be opened to the public in order to spread the visitor load and improve visitors’ understanding of the site. This should be an essential element of the public use plan proposed in Recommendation 12.

Recommendation 6: The GIS for Pompei should be updated with all relevant information and kept up-to-date so that it can be used as a basic tool for the conservation and management of the site.

Recommendation 7: The Superintendency should plan with the HCP for the takeover in due course of the Herculaneum GIS and be resourced for its future maintenance and use as a basic tool for the conservation and management of the site.

Recommendation 8: The Superintendency with, if possible, support from the HCP should develop common standards for GIS in use within the Vesuvian group of monuments to enable easy exchange of data and regular updating as a basis for improved information management.
C. Measures to improve management of site and understanding of OUV

Recommendation 9: The Italian Government is recommended to submit a full Statement of Outstanding Universal Value by 1 February 2012 for consideration and adoption by the World Heritage Committee as the basis for the future management of the property in accordance with Decision 34 COM 10B.3 of the World Heritage Committee.

Recommendation 10: The Superintendency should develop and implement a set of simple monitoring measures for the condition and use of the site and should have these in place by 1 February 2012 and submit them for review by ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre.

Recommendation 11: The Ministry of Culture is recommended to maintain institutional stability within the Special Superintendency in order to allow it to focus on managing and conserving the site as its main priority.

Recommendation 12: The Superintendency should review the Management Plan with other stakeholders and the Ministry of Culture to identify ways in which it can be used more effectively as a tool for the effective conservation and management of the property. The Management Plan should include public use and risk management plans. The Italian Government should report on progress on this by 1 February 2013.

Recommendation 13: The Superintendency, the Packard Humanities Institute and the British School at Rome, as the partners in the Herculaneum Conservation Project agreed and are implementing a phased programme over the next few years for withdrawal by the Project which enables the Superintendency to continue to implement the approaches developed, particularly in the area of programmed maintenance. The Ministry and the Superintendency must guarantee their commitment to this programme. Ideally, the private partners should follow the phased handover for conservation works with some form of light support for a number of years to favour the commitment to the improved management and conservation approaches by the public authority at Herculaneum (but perhaps also at the other sites in it is care), particularly in a period when the management system for these sites might be subject to change.

Recommendation 14: It is recommended that measures for the effective protection of the visual setting of the property, particularly the visual links with Mount Vesuvius, should be reviewed and strengthened as necessary, possibly by the extension of the buffer zones.

D. Follow-up action by UNESCO
Recommendation 15: It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee should invite the State Party to submit a State of Conservation report for consideration at its 37th session in 2013, reporting on progress on the Recommendations made by the mission and the general state of conservation of the World Heritage property. It is further recommended that the State Party should be invited to request a joint ICOMOS/ UNESCO mission during 2012 in order to assist with this process.

Article: Spuntano tre nuove domus Pompei, ritrovate le Botteghe dei profumi

Thanks to Martin Conde for posting to our FB page the following link to more details about the discovery of three perfume shops at Pompeii:

Spuntano tre nuove domus Pompei, ritrovate le Botteghe dei profumi

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

BMCR Books received for review

Just noticed this too - BMCR are looking for someone to review the following:

Poehler, Eric, Miko Flohr and Kevin Cole (edd.). Pompeii: art, industry, and infrastructure. Oxford; Oakville, CT: Oxbow Books, 2011. xvii, 181 p. $70.00 (pb). ISBN 9781842179840.

If you're interested, this is what you need to do.

Articles in ArcheoRivista

I'm gradually catching up on my RSS feeds now, and there's a whole bunch of articles in ArcheoRivista that may be of interest to readers:
Pompei. Scoperte tre botteghe di profumieri
Nell’antica città di Pompei la Via degli Augustali, con il suo andamento non ortogonale, mette in comunicazione la Via Stabiana e la Via del Foro. Ed è proprio lungo questa importante strada che, pochi giorni fa, è stata fatta un’importante scoperta. Sono state, infatti, individuate tre botteghe, indicate con i numeri 26, 27 e 28, dove con molta probabilità si producevano profumi.
Read the full story here.
Pompei. Concluso il secondo lotto dei restauri sulla Domus della Fontana Piccola
Venerdì 22 luglio 2011, alle 11,30, presso l’Auditorium degli Scavi di Pompei, è stata presentata la conclusione della seconda parte dei restauri dei dipinti della Domus della Fontana Piccola, sovvenzionato dall’Associazione Pompei e dalla Fondazione CittàItalia e diretto dalla Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei. Sono intervenuti, Antonio Varone, direttore degli scavi; Grazia Bottiglieri Rizzo, presidente dell’Associazione per Pompei, Ledo Prato, segretario generale della Fondazione CittàItalia; Stefano Vanacore, direttore dei lavori.

Pompei. In 2 anni gli scavi hanno perso mezzo milione di visitatori
Perdono mezzo milione di visitatori gli Scavi di Pompei: se nel 2007 il sito archeologico era stato invaso da 2545670 turisti, nel 2009 i visitatori sono stati 2070745. Questi i dati che emergono da una nota della Corte di Conti che ha svolto un’indagine sulla condizione di manutenzione delle aree archeologiche italiane. La stessa ricerca registra anche il decremento degli incassi che si aggira attorno a una perdita di quattro milioni di euro: infatti, dai 20 milioni e 477 mila euro del 2007 si è scesi ai 16 milioni e 396 mila euro del 2009. 
Read more here.
Ercolano. Il Museo Archeologico Virtuale MAV rischia la chiusura
L’8 luglio 2008 venne inaugurata la più grande e la più importante struttura museale di archeologia virtuale del mondo, nei pressi degli scavi di Ercolano. Il progetto, iniziato nel 2005, quando la Provincia di Napoli e il Comune di Ercolano costituirono la Fondazione CIVES per la gestione del MAV, a cui nel 2009 aderì anche la Regione Campagna, è costato circa cinque milioni di euro e il risultato è stato eccezionale. L’ex scuola Iaccarino è stata così trasformata nel Museo archeologico virtuale: una superficie di cinquemila metri quadrati articolati su tre piani. 
Read the full story here. I certainly hope MAV doesn't shut down ...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Article: Pompei. L’acustica del Teatro Grande e i recenti restauri

From ArcheoRivista, an interesting piece about the recent restorations in the Large Theatre and discussion of acoustics (with lots of images):
Pompei. L’acustica del Teatro Grande e i recenti restauri

I teatri antichi hanno sempre destato un grande interesse sia per la loro architettura, sia per le loro caratteristiche acustiche e il teatro greco viene in genere associato all’acustica perfetta.

Molto probabilmente furono i greci i primi ad affrontare lo studio dei fenomeni acustici nel VI sec. a. C. e sicuramente il buon ascolto è stata la ragione fondamentale che ne ha determinato la forma semicircolare.

Ancora oggi i teatri greci e romani vengono utilizzati come luoghi per concerti e spettacoli di vario genere.

Il Teatro Grande di Pompei, portato alla luce tra il 1764 e il 1766, è stato utilizzato fino al 2009 per manifestazioni e spettacoli, per consentire i quali al posto dei gradini, erosi dal tempo e coperti dall’erba, (Fig.1) era stata collocata intorno al 1950, su idea di Amedeo Maiuri, grande archeologo, una struttura di ferro leggera su cui venivano fissate delle tavole che, finita la rappresentazione, erano poi rimosse ripristinando lo stato di fatto.

See here for the full article.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Interview with Soprintendente Cinquantaquattro

The latest L'Expresso magazine has an interview with Teresa Cinquantaquattro about the difficulties being faced & plans for the future. It is entitled 'Pompei si cambia' and you can pick it up online here

http://espresso.repubblica.it/dettaglio/pompei-quando-i-fondi-non-bastano/2157504/9