Monday 28 June 2010

PARP:PS is in the field

Members of Blogging Pompeii are invited to visit our new excavations, which began today and will continue until early August (we work Mondays to Fridays). You can find us in insula I.1, at the laboratorio, or at our finds headquarters in the insula of Menander. Our project has undergone some important changes recently, not least of which is the expansion of our excavation and research activities into I.1 from VIII.7. For more information, see our revised website at:

Steven Ellis

Restoration Update on the Pompeii Antiquarium

Restoration Work at House of the Faun

Pompei - Al teatro Grande si festeggia l’Indipendence day americano

From StabiaChannel, news that American Independence Day will be celebrated in the Large Theatre at Pompeii with music by Verdi and Mendelssohn. The event has been organised by the San Carlo Theatre of Naples in collaboration with the US Consulate, Nato and the US Navy in Naples.
Un “Indipendence day” a Pompei per celebrare il 4 luglio, festa civile americana, con i solisti e l'orchestra dell'Accademia della Scala, le arie di Giuseppe Verdi e della sinfonia “Italiana” di Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, nella magia del ritrovato teatro Grande (nella foto). È un idea del teatro San Carlo in sinergia con le istituzioni Americane a Napoli (Consolato Generale degli Stati Uniti, Nato e Marina americana), che realizzano insieme per la prima volta un festeggiamento tradizionale e molto sentito anche dalla nutrita comunità statunitense residente nella regione. L'occasione è la data del 4 luglio del campania teatro festival Italia nell’ambito della programmazione promossa dalla fondazione Campania dei festival e dal teatro San Carlo. «Una serata - spiegano gli organizzatori - che costruisce un tangibile segno di fratellanza tra culture, unite nell'ascolto di partiture immortali». Sul podio Marco Guidarini, in programma anche “I vespri siciliani” e “I lombardi alla prima crociata”.

Friday 25 June 2010

Pompei e Vinum nostrum: una mostra e un viaggio nei luoghi storici del vino

Press release just been issued by the Ministry of Culture on the latest Pompeii initiative: Pompeii and wine!
The main event is a ten-month long exhibition at Palazzo Pitti in Florence with other events in the Campania region to start next month.
More information here.

Article: Lethal Thermal Impact at Periphery of Pyroclastic Surges

Published on-line earlier this month in an open-access journal (link to the full article here):

Mastrolorenzo G, Petrone P, Pappalardo L, Guarino FM (2010) Lethal Thermal Impact at Periphery of Pyroclastic Surges: Evidences at Pompeii. PLoS ONE 5(6): e11127. 

The evaluation of mortality of pyroclastic surges and flows (PDCs) produced by explosive eruptions is a major goal in risk assessment and mitigation, particularly in distal reaches of flows that are often heavily urbanized. Pompeii and the nearby archaeological sites preserve the most complete set of evidence of the 79 AD catastrophic eruption recording its effects on structures and people.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we investigate the causes of mortality in PDCs at Pompeii and surroundings on the bases of a multidisciplinary volcanological and bio-anthropological study. Field and laboratory study of the eruption products and victims merged with numerical simulations and experiments indicate that heat was the main cause of death of people, heretofore supposed to have died by ash suffocation. Our results show that exposure to at least 250°C hot surges at a distance of 10 kilometres from the vent was sufficient to cause instant death, even if people were sheltered within buildings. Despite the fact that impact force and exposure time to dusty gas declined toward PDCs periphery up to the survival conditions, lethal temperatures were maintained up to the PDCs extreme depositional limits.
This evidence indicates that the risk in flow marginal zones could be underestimated by simply assuming that very thin distal deposits, resulting from PDCs with poor total particle load, correspond to negligible effects. Therefore our findings are essential for hazard plans development and for actions aimed to risk mitigation at Vesuvius and other explosive volcanoes.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Epitaffio di Portici

An important monument often overlooked in the recent spate of articles on Vesuvius and the danger it poses to the millions that live in its vicinity is the "Epitaffio di Portici", composed in 1631 and placed as a warning to the inhabitants of the region. In an effort to raise public awareness and record (and illustrate) this interesting text, I have created a web page at: As you will note, the Lions' Club has also become involved!

Some images along "Pompeii Bike" path

Musing on the Large Theatre

I admit it I am biased when it comes to the Large Theatre - well it’s my research area so I guess I *have* to be. I look at the photos being posted (and thank you everyone) but cant get out of my mind the feeling that whoever was in charge (and that is proving more difficult than it seams) had not read or at best not understood the Verona Charter on the Use of Ancient Places of Performance 1997.

While I could pick sound bites out of the Charter such as "Any changes made to the heritage must respect the principle of reversibility", or "Adequate information will have to be supplied to contractors, planners and all other partners on the possibilities afforded by the development of techniques for improving skills for the conservation and use of sites." or even "Maintenance, reinforcement and restoration work carried out on ancient places of performance must be based on sufficient scientific documentation and thorough archaeological analysis." but I will leave that to the reader if they are so inclined.

Perhaps I was unlucky and missed the memo on the restoration work (certainly last June my permissions for access to the Large Theatre were assured but upon their collection in September had been revoked) and it is not like I have the status of Frank Sear or Richard Beacham (both whom I have a working relationship with both who have an interest in the theatre and both who were as surprised as I).

Perhaps I am just being pessimistic an all of the appropriate surveying, analysis, recording and documentation was done to a level befitting a UNESCO world heritage site and even at this very moment is languishing in some out box ready to be published and included into the historical record of the site.

Perhaps the risk benefit of losing the theatre as she was (considering its changes over time since the original excavations) into a new venue to bring a much needed revenue stream into the scavi for other more deserving projects (after all we have a number of roman theatres and the cavea was only an "earth slope" after all) was weighed up, considered and found left wanting.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps or may be not


The "Pompeii e il Vesuvio" Exhibit

For anyone visiting Pompeii this summer, I would highly recommend the "Pompeii e il Vesuvio" exhibit, just outside the Ampitheater entrance gate. It is excellent! The displays are presented in Italian as well as English, and are highly informative and educational. They provide a lot of information on the history and science of the excavations.
All the best from Naples,

Some Photos along the "Friendly Pompeii" Tour Route

Cast Exhibit at Boscoreale Antiquarium

Hi everyone,
There is an excellent exhibit going on at the Boscoreale Antiquarium. It is called "The Casts," and it is on the casting techniques used at the Vesuvian sites. It is extremely well done! The exhibit began in March, and runs to 20 December 2010.
All the best from Bella Napoli,

Restorations to the Large Theater

Friday 18 June 2010

BBC Radio 4 on 'Volcano Power'

'The Icelandic volcano may have caused travel chaos, but David Cannadine looks back to eruptions which caused devastating loss of life and reflects on the long line of writers who have been fascinated by the fate of Pompeii.'

Listen to the programme here.

Article: Come morirono i pompeiani? Bruciati

See here (in Italian) for a National Geographic Italy article about how the people of Pompeii died. Based on new Italian research, it claims that the inhabitants of Pompeii died from burning rather than asphyxiation. But here's the thing - didn't we already know that? Is this really new?

More details about Moscow exhibition

I just found an English-language article about the new Moscow exhibition 'Pompeii, Secrets of the Buried City' - at least it claims to be English, but it actually one of the worst translations I have ever seen! Check it out here. For a more intelligible description of the exhibition see this article instead.

Thursday 17 June 2010

More historical photos of the theatre

In the same vein as Bob and Jackie, here are a few more photos for comparison. These images were taken in 2002 (upper 2 images) and in 2007.

Theatre before and after

A few pictures from pompeiinpictures for comparison. Anyone care to make a comment?

Gladiators Barracks looking north to Large Theatre in September 2005.

Gladiators Barracks looking north to Large Theatre in June 2010. Photo courtesy of Rick Bauer.

Via Stabiana looking south towards entrance to Gladiators Barracks in May 2010.

Via Stabiana looking south towards entrance to Gladiators Barracks in June 2010. Photo courtesy of Rick Bauer.

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Photos of theatre restoration

Check out the SANP website for description and photos of the finished restorations of Pompeii's large theatre.

Pompeian artefacts to visit Moscow!

An intriguing snippet from 'The Voice of Russia':

The State Historical Museum in Moscow will host the first-ever exposition of rarities from the ancient city of Pompeii, Italy. Visitors to the exhibition are provided with a unique opportunity to imagine how the city looked like before it was buried under meters of ash from an eruption of volcano Mount Vesuvius.
The collection has for the first time left the National Archaeological Museum of Naples to arrive in the Russian capital. Among other artifacts, the State Historical Museum will display household items, jewelry, and even fragments of murals which once decorated houses of wealthy citizens.
Most rarities were perfectly preserved under a layer of volcanic ash. According to the exhibition managers, the collection is unlikely to go on a similar journey once again.

Anyone know which exhibition this is? Or is it a new one?

Estelle Lazer on LateNightLive

Estelle Lazer was on Australian radio yesterday talking about her book, Resurrecting Pompeii. And we can all listen to her - this is the link!

And here is the interview blurb:

Official excavations of Pompeii began in 1748, and until the late twentieth century there was continued emphasis on art and architectural history as a research priority. For some years now, Estelle Lazer has been studying the skeletal remains of the victims of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius, bones that were previously used as props for the entertainment of visiting dignitaries.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Article about Wilhelmina Jashemski

See here for a rather nice article about the life of Wilhelmina Jashemski.

Monday 14 June 2010

Unico Pompeiana - Pompeii integrated transport network guide is born (& downloadable, interactive map too!)

For those of you who visit Pompeii often or will do in the near future, Unico Campania has produced a new guide for transit in the locale. It is also available in Italian.

Pompeii integrated transport
network guide is born

A helpful map with all the details about public transport service by SITA, CSTP, Circumvesuviana, EAVBUS and City Sightseeing Naples companies in and around Pompeii. It contains also a detail on fares, main tourist attractions and a map of the ancient City of Pompeii.
This free map, easy to use, will be available at tourist information offices, circumvesuviana ticket offices, Piazza Anfiteatro Terminal bus (Pompeii-Vesuvius information service) and hotels.

The map is available here.

It looks like the EAVBus from Pompeii to Vesuvius will be stopping at more places, including the Pompei Scavi-Villa dei Misteri Circumvesuviana station (see here).

Pompeii's emergency is "over"

Last Thursday the Italian government declared the state of emergency in Pompeii to be over.
It's not clear on what criteria were used to make this decision or how this affects the management of the site (which is currently overseen by the emergency commissioner, without an appointed superintendent).
Watch this space as news comes in...

Sunday 13 June 2010

Interview with Proietti

The new interim Superintendent Proietti gave an interview to Il Mattino at the beginning of the month (must have missed it before, sorry!). This is the link. From 1st July Proietti will be in sole charge of Pompeii, with Fiori's term as commissario coming to an end. The interview doesn't really reveal much - he thinks things have improved at Pompeii, but that more improvements could be made, and he plans to concentrate on basic maintenance of the site.

Saturday 12 June 2010

Pompei. Dopo l’inaugurazione del Teatro Grande, ancora polemiche

The latest article about the theatre ..., from

Visiting Pompeii

Hello fellow Pompeianists,

I'll be visiting Pompeii from 19-22 June and would very much enjoy meeting with anyone who will also be working on site. I'll be in the shops of Region 8 for these few days, so you can either find me there or drop me a line by 18 June and I will send you my mobile contact details.

All the best,

Thursday 10 June 2010

Books still available for review for AJA

I just received the AIA e-update, and I notice that there are two Pompeii books still available for review:

Hobson, Barry. Latrinae et Foricae: Toilets in the Roman World. Pp. x + 190, figs. 130, plans 15. Duckworth, London 2009. $27. ISBN 978-0715638507 (paper).
Van Andringa, William. Quotidien des dieux et des hommes: La vie religieuse dans les cités du Vésuve à l'époque romaine (BéFAR 337). Pp. xxiv + 404, b&w figs. 129, color figs. 104, plans 27, map 1. école Française de Rome, Rome 2009. €87. ISBN 978-2-7283-0843-9 (cloth).
According to the e-update, 'Qualified volunteers should indicate their interest by a message to, with their last name and requested author in the subject line. You should state your qualifications (degrees held and field /teaching experience) and explain any previous relationship with the author.'

Article: Ashes to ashes: the latter-day ruin of Pompeii

The Prospect Magazine article about Pompeii (which Sarah posted about in May - can now be read on-line in its entirety without subscription. This is the link.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Berlusconi to visit Pompeii!

News from Corriere del Mezzogiorno that Berlusconi is set to visit Pompeii some time in the next fortnight! Read the full story here.

Dall'antica Pompei un tessuto resistente quanto un giubbotto antiproiettile

Here's a curious tale from the Corriere del Mezzogiorno. Italian archaeologists digging at Pompeii have discovered fragments of cloth that they believe were soft and durable enough to be comparable to modern flak jackets!

Tuesday 8 June 2010

AIAC meeting: Herculaneum presentation

Next Monday as part of the regular AIAC series, there will be a meeting on "Conservare e interpretare l'antico" [Conserve and interpret the past]. One of the three papers to be presented will be:

Maria Rita Acestoso (Università di Roma Tre), Il restauro archeologico fra gli anni '20 e gli anni '50: Ercolano e gli interventi condotti da Amedeo Maiuri. [Archaeological restoration from teh 1920s to '50s: Herculaneum and Amedeo Maiuri's work].

Date: Monday 14 June 2010
Time: 17.00
Place: Istituto Nazionale di Archeologia e Storia dell'Arte, 2° piano, Piazza S. Marco 49, Rome
More info: helga.digiuseppe[at]

Monday 7 June 2010

Press release: riqualificazione e decoro urbano a Pompei

Official Ministry press release about the Special Commissioner's latest attempts to "clean up Pompeii", which seems to largely involve replacing old barriers with new ones and putting in new signage.

Personally I think it's sad that success of the Commissioner's campaign is being judged in terms of visitor numbers rather than the quality of the visitor experience - after all Pompeii, like many of the world's best known sites, is at risk of being "loved to death", and anyone who has been recently knows that the feeling is often one of fighting to see the origianl Roman site through crowds of visitors...

Scavi di Pompei, partito il primo piano di riqualificazione e di decoro urbano. Visitatori in crescita nel 2010, già un milione nei siti vesuviani

Scavi di Pompei, operazione decoro. E' partito il primo piano di riqualificazione e di arredo urbano nella città antica, un investimento di oltre 400.000 euro voluto dal Commissario Delegato per l'emergenza all'area archeologica che sta cambiando il volto del sito e che è già sotto gli occhi dei visitatori (in netta crescita con un più 11 per cento rispetto al 2009): rimosse le reti di plastica arancione che facevano scempio del paesaggio delle rovine, cordoni e paletti usurati da tempo immemorabile, centinaia di metri di recinzioni di legno ammalorato e cancelli fatiscenti, si sta provvedendo gradualmente all'installazione di nuovi elementi rispondenti ad una moderna logica di identità visiva e alle esigenze dei visitatori con l'inserimento di paline informative e servizi.

Un intervento significativo, che dovrebbe concludersi entro l’estate, riguarda un servizio essenziale come la segnaletica: una carenza storica di Pompei, basti pensare che l'ultimo limitato intervento fu effettuato più di dieci anni fa e che in molte importanti domus erano presenti istallazioni che non rispondevano a nessun criterio informativo ne’ tantomeno di protezione. In alcuni casi come quello del Termpolio, che dopo il recente restauro è divenuta una delle mete più amata dai turisti, si è provveduto ad una vera e propria musealizzazione del sito, con l'apposizione di pannelli trasparenti e assolutamente non invasivi. Segnaletica ad hoc è stata creata anche per i percorsi Bike, itinerario ciclo pedonale lungo le mura, e Friendly, il percorso facilitato per visitatori con ridotte capacità motorie.

''Si è trattato di interventi fondamentali per il decoro e la vivibilità del sito. Oltretutto ci siamo chiesti perché la visita nell’area archeologica dovesse essere scomoda e disagevole. La nuova identità visiva, riassunta nel claim PompeiViva, ha lo scopo di facilitare l'orientamento e la qualità dei percorsi eliminando ogni tipo di inquinamento paesaggistico” - spiega il commissario Fiori sottolineando che - “per la prima volta all'interno dei fondi utilizzati per la tutela e la valorizzazione sono stati destinati due milioni di euro alla manutenzione ordinaria del sito”.

In attesa della riapertura del Teatro Grande con il concerto straordinario del maestro Riccardo Muti (10 e 11 giugno) e dalla prima stagione estiva che proporrà due mesi di lirica, concerti, danza ed eventi, segnali positivi per il definitivo rilancio di Pompei arrivano anche dagli afflussi turistici dei primi cinque mesi dell'anno: rispetto allo stesso periodo del 2009 i visitatori sono stati 806.272 (lo scorso anno furono, 725.071), una crescita che riguarda anche il totale delle presenze dei cinque siti vesuviani che hanno già superato il milione di biglietti staccati (più 8,36 rispetto al 2009) .

Further News on the Large Theatre

More concern over the treatment of the large theatre raised in the Italian parliamentary question time here

The last paragraphs explicitly mention the destruction of the water system from the header tank at the rear of the theatre between the Tringular Forum and the Samnite Palaestra. Anyone from the Cincinnati project should read this.


Friendly Pompei with Pompei and Vesuvius exhibition

Our man in Pompei, Rick B, reports that "Friendly Pompei" is open for business. The Via di Castricio is now opened from the House of the Ship Europa all the way through to the Vicolo dei Menandro. The House of Menander is also open without a booking being needed. Other newly opened houses include Casca Longus and Julius Polybius.

Separately the House of Sallust near the Herculaneum Gate also appears to be open again.

Outside the exit at the amphitheatre, there is an exhibition "Pompei and Vesuvius" which includes exhibits of old documents and photos which is apparently quite impressive .

Jackie and Bob at pompeiiinpictures

Tuesday 1 June 2010

More articles on theatre restoration

Two more articles criticising the on-going restorations in the Large Theatre of Pompeii can be read (in Italian) here and here.

Pompei: “guide turistiche, finalmente si cambia''

From, news of plans about the planned changes to the provision of tourist guides at Pompeii:

Partirà dal 1 luglio la riorganizzazione e la razionalizzazione dell'attività delle guide turistiche a Pompei disposte dal Commissario delegato per l'emergenza dell'area archeologica di Napoli e Pompei Marcello Fiori, un provvedimento che affronta  un antico problema legato al decoro dell'area e volto a migliorare l'accoglienza ai turisti.
"E' davvero un fatto straordinario - sostiene Fiori - che può cambiare la qualità dei servizi offerti a Pompei e anche la sua immagine a livello internazionale. Voglio ringraziare le associazioni di categoria e le organizzazioni sindacali per la loro efficace collaborazione e convinta adesione al progetto di riorganizzazione, che vuole premiare la competenza e la professionalità e contrastare l'abusivismo e l'improvvisazione. Si volta definitivamente pagina e lo facciamo insieme: per il bene di Pompei e per il rilancio di una professione fondamentale per la comunicazione con i turisti".
Tutti e tre gli ingressi degli scavi (Porta Marina, Porta Anfiteatro e Piazza Esedra) saranno dotati di una postazione permanente con personale dedicato a cui faranno capo esclusivamente le guide abilitate dalla Regione Campania nonché postazioni d'attesa per le guide stesse. Alle tre postazioni degli ingressi le guide  si iscriveranno tutti i giorni, al momento del loro arrivo, e  sarà loro rilasciato un badge. Ogni postazione accoglierà le richieste di servizio da parte dei visitatori e provvederà all'organizzazione delle guide, iscritte in ordine di arrivo,  che dovranno essere disponibili entro 15 minuti dalla chiamata..
L'elenco guide iscritte sarà a scorrimento giornaliero a partire dall'ultima impiegata il giorno precedente, le guide appena iscritte saranno infondo l'elenco. Lo scorrimento della lista sarà anche in funzione della lingua richiesta dal turista al momento della prenotazione. Le tariffe regionali saranno ben evidenziate cosi come riconoscibili al visitatore saranno le stesse guide che  e dovranno tenere esposto un documento identificativo corredato da fotografia non falsificabili.
Sono previste anche indagini di custumer satifasction per valutare la soddisfazione dei gruppi gestiti dalle guide. Il servizio non è prenotabile.
Per le  guide anche un codice deontologico condiviso con  le associazioni di categorie nel quale si richiede il rispetto dei colleghi, dei turisti e  dei gruppi, oltre che del  sito archeologico.
E' vietato ingaggiare clienti nelle aree circostanti gli scavi archeologici, bar, parcheggi, chioschi, pena l'esclusione dall'iscrizione giornaliera e la denuncia. I compensi saranno corrisposti  alle postazioni dietro presentazione di fattura,ricevuta o nota di liquidazione.
"Grazie al Commissario Fiori - sottolinea Daniela di Vincenzo (Associazione Guide turistiche Campane) - dopo anni di denuncia sul degrado della situazione di Pompei abbiamo finalmente la nostra regolamentazione che stabilisce principi condivisi. I tentativi erano stati tanti  ma nessuno si era assunto prima questa responsabilità. L'opera del Commissario colma un vuoto di regole durato 24 anni infatti l'ultima norma regionale era del 1986.  Siamo soddisfatti perché il servizio al turista sarà riqualificato, ma migliorerà anche l'immagine stessa della guida turistica, spesso danneggiata dal comportamento scorretto di qualche  elemento''.

Pompei Bike again ...

Sarah already posted about the Pompei Bike initiative, but I just found the map of the bike routes on-line. And now I'm wondering how this actually works - for example, are the houses on the map really open (and to all tourists?), and are the pavements divided for bikes and pedestrians or do the bikes have to be left at the different numbered points on the map? Anyone out there care to shed some light for me?!
Here's a English article about the initiative on ANSA.
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