Wednesday 15 December 2010

Article: The 21st-century fall of Pompeii

The 21st-century fall of Pompeii
It is time the politicians learned to respect the experts in which Italy abounds—giving them the authority and resources they need
By Andrew Wallace-Hadrill | From issue 219, December 2010
Published online 13 Dec 10

More buildings will collapse without a change in the status quo in Pompeii's management

A building in Pompeii, little known and little visited, its function little understood, but known to some as the School of Gladiators, collapses to the ground one rainy night in early November. The shock waves move through the Italian to the international press, and the affair spirals up to the Italian parliament: a vote of confidence is demanded on the culture minister, Sandro Bondi. Many hasten to point the finger of blame. Is it Bondi’s fault, or is it that of the local superintendent (and if so which one, for three have followed in quick succession over the last year)? Or is it the fault of the special commissioners (and if so which) whom the Government appointed under emergency legislation some three years ago? Or is it rather the product of a general malaise, a systematic underinvestment in the site, a failure to prioritise the preservation of antiquities so exceptional that to lose them is an international scandal?

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