Thursday 22 April 2010

Samnite House reopens!

The Herculaneum Conservation Project is trying to put up site panels to explain to visitors what they are doing and why some areas are closed. These are two new examples that have gone up this week:

Herculaneum's Samnite House is open for visitors again. The house was shut for a period as water leaking through the roof had damaged not only the roof structure but also wall and floor decorations. The Herculaneum Conservation Project team made repairs to the atrium roof and substituted the (modern) flat roof over the tablinum. Emergency works were carried out on the wall and floor decorations.

However, please note that only the minimum was done to ensure the house's preservation and visitor safety - but the house is still fragile and we need your help when you visit! Three ways you can help save the site:

1. the first style wall decorations in the entrance are scratched by visitors' backpacks - if you're taking a group round, please point out this feature once they are already inside the atrium to avoid them all turning to look in the narrow space and damaging the wall behind them.

2. in fact, why carry a heavy backpack around the site? Especially now the weather is heating up - why not leave all unnecessary bags at the new ticket office, where the superintendency has a free luggage deposit.

3. please don't sit down on the small wall that divides the atrium from the tablinum. Already in the few days since the house has reopened the wall has started crumbling from visitors' bottoms! Please think before you sit anywhere in the site - maybe one person won't make a noticeable difference but we got over 25,000 visitors just last month - and 25,000 people sitting on the same 2,000 year old wall does make a difference! If you need a rest break, think about sitting someone a bit more robust - or going back to the ticket office where there is the new park with benches, a perfect area to rest in a green area before returning to your visit.

One of the current areas we are working in is the House of Neptune and Amphitrite - again a leaking modern roof and rising damp is causing damage to the amazing decorations in this house. The conservation team are trying to carry out as much work as possible without causing too much disturbance (currently we've blocked off half the atrium but you can still see the triclinium with the famous mosaic) - but at a certain point we're going to have to close the whole house for a period in order to substitute the roof over the triclinium. Sorry!
This may cause problems if you're visiting at that time, but hopefully you'll agree that in the long term we'd all prefer to know that the Neptune and Amphitrite mosaic and the nymphaeum there are preserved for a bit longer.

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