Wednesday 26 May 2010

Newspaper article about restoration of the Large Theatre

Check out yesterday's Corriere della Sera for criticisms of construction work going on in the Large Theatre and Theatre Portico at Pompeii. In particular watch the video that accompanies the article. I'll be interested to hear whether this is an accurate representation of what is going on from those of you who are in Pompeii at the moment. I find myself increasingly suspicious of the Italian press (!) because they have such an axe to grind about what has been happening at Pompeii since Guzzo left. It's hard to know what the truth really is ...


Sera Baker said...

Hi Joanne,

My, this level of work is a surprise. I'm not entirely sure what to make of it either due to the factions working against each other at the moment. You are right that we should keep an open mind until things are clearer.

A question to ask about the proposed privatisation as well - not a lot has been made clear! Would a privatised Pompeii continue in the same way? Where are the specialist reconstructors & conservationists? Are they already there or absent?

The pixelation of the video makes it hard to understand what exactly is happening in the construction. However, just last summer I spoke with some of the construction workers who had little idea about the history of the buildings they were working on. They were only labourers, but surely it can be to no one's benefit, especially cultural patrimony, if little regard is paid to protecting the archaeology that is there (and there is quite a bit everywhere!!!). It didn't seem to me that the workers were willfully damaging things (in fact, they were saving walls about to collapse otherwise), but education on history & reconstruction technique has something to be said for it. I'm especially concerned about the installation of concrete outside the Porta Stabia (if I understood this correctly) and the JCB working in the back of Reg 8, Insula 7 (although, what they are working on & how is difficult to know).

I wonder if the same thing would happen in Herculaneum with the HCP keeping such a close eye on things.


p.s. I'll have a look when I'm in Pompeii in a few weeks. As you said, hard to know what's going on. There could be some good things, especially if this was an initial directive of Guzzo! Fingers crossed.

Jo Berry said...

Fiori has responded to this article. Read his letter at the SAP site -

Drew Baker said...

Hi Jo,

*cue sounds of weeping*

I have worked in the large theatre for 3 seasons now both with Frank Seer’s Melbourne team and our own King’s College London team – or rather would have if I had not had my permisso revoked to on the day I arrived in Pompeii. I tried for 2 weeks to get *any* time in the restricted area and constantly came up against dead ends. Having made 2 appointments to see the architect in charge (both of which were cancelled after hanging around the works entrance for 2 hours) I managed to secure 10 minutes in the theatre to take some precious photographs.

Like Sera I too spoke with a number of the construction workers (what with time on my hands) who either were following the party line or as it was the early stages of the works (I cant bear to say the word “restoration”) they appeared to be taking due diligence in their work. Follow up requests to the architect to establish a dialogue (in order to get access to any surveys, plans and the background to some of the apparent changes in the pre-works structure of the caveat) have to date come to naught.

I was assured however that it was only the caveat that was having work done on it (although the stage pulpit has been levelled off) – that said the close proximity of the porta-cabins, and “natural” access points from the stage apertures and the auditus maxima makes it likely that there will be some attrition or collateral damage. I am fearful of what I will find when I return in September, assuming that the stage is accessible this time …


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