So let's cut the current authorities a bit of slack (and I'm not talking about the commissario, but the people who work at the site every day). It is not their fault that they face an enormous and continuous task with limited resources. It is easy for us to complain and criticise, a knee-jerk reaction when we see the state of the remains. But let's not accuse anyone of apathy, because that is not the case.
Monday, 5 July 2010
This article was in The Independent on Saturday: Ashes to ashes: neglect takes its toll on Pompeii's Roman ruins. I am really annoyed by it. Yes, yes, we all know that Pompeii is decaying and that there are too many tourists. Yes, there are problems with the administration and bureaucracy at the site, and many of us are worried about recent developments there. But there are many extremely competent people who work in the Soprintendenza, and they do their best with the resources that they have. And they love the site. It is insulting to suggest that there have been 'decades of apathy and incompetence'. Anyone who works at Pompeii regularly knows that restoration and conservation is going on all the time. Just look at the photos that Rick Bauer posted last week for a few examples of this. Lack of resources is a problem, but don't start claiming that there is a lack of will. And don't say that there has been no good leadership since Mauiri. Maiuri was great, yes. He was serious about conservation, and knew how to excavate, and he published his work. But he is also part of the problem, because he dug up so much of the site. Indeed, I would argue that the best thing that happened when Maiuri retired in 1962 was the decision to STOP large-scale excavations at Pompeii and concentrate on conservation.