Pompeii, Franceschini: “A story of rebirth and redemption to be proud of”. Osanna: “It is no longer the time of emergencies”
GREAT POMPEII PROJECT
The stabilisation works on the Excavations have been completed.
Interventions in Regiones I, II and III have concluded.
The extraordinary plan to safeguard the archaeological structures of the ancient city of Pompeii, which began in 2014 with the Great Pompeii Project, concludes with the stabilisation of Regiones I, II and III. In five years 76 interventions relating to 5 intervention plans envisaged by the Great Pompeii Project have been carried out, 51 of which concerned the works plan (interventions on archaeological structures), 8 the knowledge plan, 2 the safety plan, 7 the capacity building plan and 8 public use and communication. 75 interventions have been concluded, the test phases of which are ongoing at 5 sites.
The ‘stabilisation intervention on the excavation fronts’ operation, across the 3km perimeter which runs along the unexcavated area of Pompeii, is still in the process of completion. Over this large worksite, the intervention has already been completed on the fronts of Via del Vesuvio, which was recently restored to public access with the opening of the House of Leda and the Swan, and in the area of the so-called ‘wedge’, where two elegant domus with evocative frescoes, mosaics and finds came to light, along with Vicolo dei Balconi, which has reconnected Vicolo delle Nozze d’Argento with the main road of Via di Nola.
The total expenditure as of the 30th January 2020 stands at 92 million euros.
“Pompeii is a story of rebirth and redemption, and a model for all of Europe in the use of EU funds. It is a place where research and new excavations take place once more, thanks to the long and silent work of many professionals employed in cultural heritage who have contributed to the extraordinary results which are there for all to see, and which Italy may be proud of”, declared the Minister for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism Dario Franceschini.
“It is no longer the time of emergencies at Pompeii. Before us we have new and important challenges for the safeguarding, understanding and valorisation of the excavations and territory”, declared the Director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, Massimo Osanna.
STABILISATION OF REGIONES I, II AND III
The operation, directed by a team of architects, archaeologists, engineers and restorers, has been completed following fifteen months of work, focusing on a vast area - Regiones I and II in the south-eastern quadrant of the city, and Regio III, which has been only partially excavated, and which covers the area between Via dell’Abbondanza to the south and Via di Nola to the north, including the shops and numerous thermopolia along Via Stabiana, the domus located between Via dell’Abbondanza and Via di Castricio, the large urban dwellings of Octavius Quartio and Julia Felix, the House of the Summer Triclinium and the Forum Boarium with the annexed vineyards as far as the Amphitheatre.
During the works, specific interventions were carried out, concerning the structural restoration of the walls, stabilisation of the decorative elements and the renovation of coverings, as well as the controlled installation of protective devices to safeguard specific cases of instability in masonry structures. More particularly, the use of ever less bulky and more sophisticated static protective devices has meant that streets and ancient structures have been freed of cumbersome supports. The restructuring of the flooring has also improved the level of access to the areas.
The major intervention of consolidating the excavation fronts, with the 3 kilometre perimeter which runs along the unexcavated area of Pompeii, with the so-called wedge in Regio V, is nearing completion. Along Via del Vesuvio, already at the end of 2018, the restoration of access allowed the domus of Leda and the Swan, one of the most recent and striking discoveries of the new excavations in Regio V, to be visible to the public for the first time.
THE HOUSE OF LOVERS
Brought to light in 1933, the dwelling takes its name from the verse inscribed in a small painting, with ducks in the background, on the the peristyle which reads “Amantes, ut apes, vitam melitam exigunt” (Like bees, lovers lead a life as sweet as honey). The house, located in the heart of Regio I, had been closed to the public since the 1980s when, following the earthquake, it was necessary to construct a web of supports for the roofs of the atrium and peristyle, which concealed and distorted the interpretation of the spaces and decorations of the domus.
Over the years, the state of conservation of the domus became such that it impeded access even to technicians. The most significant peculiarity of the dwelling lies in the presence and near complete preservation of the second floor of the peristyle (colonnaded garden), which was once accessed via a stairway in the northern portico (traces of which are visible on the back wall).
This second floor seems to have been added during the 1st century AD. The intact state in which the structures relating to the second floor were found allowed us, even right after excavation, to recover the original configuration of this space, and thus restore to our perception and understanding an architectural solution which today is unique in Pompeii (a double order peristyle).
Except for the painting of the fauces and for certain Second Style flooring, the paintings present in the domus were created in the Fourth Style during the course of the 1st century AD. In this domus, the stabilisation works also concerned the consolidation of the roofing and attic floors. The intervention of renovating the roofing of the atrium was carried out in keeping with the reconfiguration that the domus as a whole had undergone during the restoration works of the 1930s, which were concurrent with the excavation. Several objects discovered in the house (a brazier, a basin, a bronze lamp and bone hinges) are exhibited in a display cabinet located in the atrium.
The exhibition forms part of the open air musealisation project, which has been underway for some time in various buildings on the site, in order to relocate and contextualise the finds in the rooms where they were found.
THE HOUSE OF THE SHIP EUROPA
The domus owes its name to the large graffiti inscribed on a northern wall of the peristyle, where a large cargo ship named ‘Europa’ is depicted, flanked by other smaller boats.
The house, whose original nucleus dates to the 3rd century BC, experienced a complex structural history, consisting of numerous modifications and extensions. In its current guise, it features a wide peristyle with various rooms arranged in succession on the northern and western sides. The monumental tuff columns of the peristyle, and the First Style decorations which are preserved in some rooms harbour memories of the most ancient construction phases and the most glorious moments of the domus.
The decoration in the cubiculum adjacent to the entrance is of particular note, where the false coloured marble cladding, which was typical of this decorative style, is enriched by the presence of Ionic half-columns in stucco on the upper part of the wall.
In the final phase of the life of the city, the domus must in all probability have hosted a productive activity of an agricultural nature. The sector behind the house was indeed occupied by a large green space located on two levels, which was essentially cultivated as a vineyard, with a small garden for legumes and vegetables.
THE HOUSE OF THE ORCHARD
The house has been the focus of interventions aimed at stabilisation as well as the restoration of the decorative elements, the latter being carried out with regular funding of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii. The floral cubicula of the House of the Orchard at Pompeii was decorated with lemons and strawberry trees, fruit and ornamental plants, fluttering birds and a fig tree with a serpent coiled around it. There was lush vegetation painted on the walls, to embrace the rest of the ancient inhabitants of this dwelling, which lay on Via dell’Abbondanza, and which preserved one of the most beautiful examples of garden painting to be found in the city.
In one of the rooms the frescoes depict a bright garden during the day time and in the full splendour of greenery, with such precision of detail that it is possible to recognise the plant species. In another room, we see a garden bathed in the darkness of the night, with three trees of varying size, including the large fig tree with the serpent, an auspice of prosperity. Unlike in other houses, where garden painting was reserved for the public rooms, here we find them in the cubicula. In some rooms, the depictions are additionally enriched with Egyptian motifs, with references to Isis, which was likely a sign of devotion to the goddess on the part of the owner. Partially excavated in 1913 and then in 1951, the domus features the classic atrium plan, around which various rooms are arranged, and in the rear we have a green space with a summer triclinium, used during the warmer months as an alternative to the indoor triclinium.
The ornamental gardens, both those depicted on the walls as a means of expanding the visual space of the rooms, and the internal green spaces which existed where the dwelling allowed them, characterised many of the houses of the ancient city.
In the House of the Orchard, LED lighting systems (Luum) have been installed which do not have intense peaks of emission in the blue spectral regions (wavelengths which contribute to hastening the decay of painted surfaces), in accordance with the parameters which are typically indicated in Italian and international regulations for materials with a low photosensitivity, such as the frescoed walls of the domus in the excavations of Pompeii.
The LED lighting fixtures used have also been subjected to verification by the laboratories of the Ospedale San Raffaele of Milan, which has highlighted the absence of degenerative effects on the cells of the retina of the human eye.
The LED lighting systems adopted, therefore, in addition to guaranteeing a higher level of energy savings and a longer useful operating life (reducing overall costs), are particularly ideal for the illumination of cultural heritage, pursuing visual comfort as the outcome of the correct balance between light, the environment and human necessities.
POMPEII IN NUMBERS
GREAT POMPEII PROJECT
- Total amount :105 million euros
- EU co-financing UE: 75%, national share: 25%
- Interventions financed: 76
STABILISATION OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
50 km of wall tops
30,000 cubic metres of masonry structures, 10,000 square metres of plasterwork.
STABILISATION INTERVENTION ON THE EXCAVATION FRONTS
EXCAVATION OF ‘THE WEDGE’
Over 2,000 square metres of surface investigated in the wedge, as part of the stabilisation intervention on the excavation fronts.
781 Economic operators (companies) involved in the GPP.
DISCOVERIES IN REGIO V
An additional part of the ancient city, with streets and domus, has been brought to light, revealing exceptional decorative elements (including frescoes and mosaics) as well as numerous finds (including various everyday objects) and the discovery of victims of the eruption. In the area of the so-called ‘wedge’, located between the House of the Silver Wedding and Vicolo di Marco Lucrezio Frontone, two domus have emerged along with ‘Vicolo dei Balconi’, which has allowed us to reconnect the large arterial road of Via di Nola - which was already cleared and visitable by tourists - with Vicolo delle Nozze d’Argento, which thus far has not been entirely brought to light.
TONNES OF MATERIAL
30,000 cubic metres of excavation material (lapilli, ash and earth removed over the course of the intervention.
FINDS DISCOVERED IN REGIO V
1167 boxes and 168 packages of archaeological finds (including fragments of plaster, marble, dripstones, glass vases, bronze objects and others), and 73 amphorae of which 52 are intact, 7 can be reassembled and 14 have been cut and reused for other purposes.
Archaeologists, architects, restorers, engineers, geologists, vulcanologists, anthropologists, palaebotanists and zooarchaeologists.
TECHNOLOGIES EMPLOYED IN THE EXCAVATION SITES
Surveying techniques (for example with drones, telescopic rods, laser scanners and georadar); investigative surveying of structures and masonry techniques (including endoscopy, sonic tests and the collection of mortar samples during the phase which immediately follows excavation); investigations on finds during excavation works (including palaeobotanical studies on finds located in gardens, morphological and chemical-physical analysis to identify the materials used and palynological analysis); anthropological analysis.
POMPEII FOR ALL ROUTE
4 km of facilitated visitor routes for people with motor difficulties
45 BUILDINGS STABILISED AND RESTORED SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE GREAT POMPEII PROJECT
- Temple of Isis 2. House of Venus in the Shell 3. Praedia of Julia Felix 4. House of the Pygmies 5. House of the Cryptoporticus 6. House of the Ephebe 7. House of the Wild Boar 8. Botanical Garden 9. Civic buildings 10. House of the Geometric Mosaics 11. Fullonica of Stephanus 12. House of Queen Caroline 13. House of Fabius Amandius 14. House of the Priest Amandus 15. House of Loreius Tiburtinus 16. House of Paquius Proculus 17. House of Marcus Lucretius on Via Stabiana 18. Casa della Calce 19. House of the Physician 20. Small Theatre (Odeon) 21. Small Lupanar 22. House of Obellius Firmus 23. House of Marcus Lucretius Fronto 24. House of the Vettii (Atrium) 25. Villa of the Mysteries 26. House of the Small Fountain 27. House of the Labyrinth 28. House of the Wounded Adonis 29. House of the Anchor 30. House of the Large Fountain 31. House of the Ceii 32. House of Romulus and Remus 33. House of Trebius Valens 34. House of the Floral Lararium 35. Domus and Shops 36. House of the Summer Triclinium 37. House of the Sailor 38. Forum Baths 39. Central Baths 40. House of Triptolemus 41. House of the Golden Cupids 42. House of Leda and the Swan 43. House of Lovers 44. House of the Ship Europa 45. House of the Orchard.
(Some of these buildings open on a rotational basis, in order to limit anthropic pressure)
VISITORS FROM 2014 TO 2019
2014: 2,668,178 2015: 2,978,884 2016: 3,209,089 2017: 3,418,733 2018: 3,649,374 2019: 3,937,468
+ 47.5% }
EXHIBITIONS SINCE 2014
- Pompeii and Europe 2. Myth and Nature 3. Egypt Pompeii 4. Pompeii and the Greeks 5. Pompeii and the Etruscans 6. House of the Golden Bracelet 7. In Search of Stabiae 8. For Grace Received 9. Body of Evidence 10. The Furnishings of the House of Julius Polybius at the Antiquarium of Pompeii 11. Mitoraj in Pompeii 12. Pompeii@Madre. Archaeological Matter 13. Picasso and Naples: Parade 14. Casciello Pompeii 15. EXPANDED INTERIORS 16. Pompeii’s Re-Birth, The Third Paradise of Michelangelo Pistoletto 17. Lara FAVARETTO DIGGING UP. Atlas of the blank memories 18. CAI GUO QIANG performance of artistic explosion at the Amphitheatre 19. “DO UT DO, the Morals of Individuals” 20. Vanity: Stories of Jewellery from the Cyclades to Pompeii 21. Pompeii and Santorini, Eternity in one Day.
The excavations subsequently became an exceptional stage once more, with the concerts of David Gilmour, Elton John and Ludovico Einaudi, Marcus Miller, James Taylor and King Crimson, but also with the Pompeii Theatrum Mundi festival of ancient drama (this year in its fourth edition), a four-year project organised with the Teatro Stabile of Naples.
EXCAVATIONS IN REGIO V: THE WEDGE
After decades we are once again excavating in the part of the city which had never been investigated before. The ongoing excavations have yielded important data for our understanding of the ancient city, as well as exceptional discoveries. Such archaeological study and research forms the essential basis of safeguarding and development operations, since only a deep knowledge of the archaeological context can guarantee its protection over time. The new excavations form part of a larger stabilisation intervention which is focusing on the more than 2.7km of fronts which run along the 22 hectares of unexcavated areas, in order to reprofile the fronts by reshaping the slope and stabilise them, to avoid the threatening pressure of the soil on the already excavated structures. In the area of the so-called ‘wedge’ in particular, in order to protect the buildings which had already emerged in the 19th century, it has been necessary to proceed with full excavation over 2,000 square metres, to push back the front and guarantee the safety of the discovered structures. An additional part of the ancient city, with streets and domus, has been brought to light, revealing exceptional decorative elements (including frescoes and mosaics) as well as numerous finds (including various everyday objects) and the discovery of victims of the eruption. In the area of the so-called ‘wedge’, located between the House of the Silver Wedding and Vicolo di Marco Lucrezio Frontone, two entire domus (the House with the Garden and the House of Orion) have emerged along with ‘Vicolo dei Balconi’, which has allowed us to reconnect the large arterial road of Via di Nola - which was already cleared and visitable by tourists - with Vicolo delle Nozze d’Argento, which thus far has not been entirely brought to light. Along the front of Via del Vesuvio, however, the House of Leda and the Swan, which takes its name from the elegant fresco of Leda that decorated an alcove, has emerged, with the beautiful atrium of Narcissus behind it.