POMPEII. NEW EXCAVATIONS IN REGIO V.
AFTER DECADES, A NEW AREA OF POMPEII IS EXCAVATED
270 years after the discovery of Pompeii, the Archaeological Park celebrates its wonders by announcing new ongoing excavations in Regio V
On the 23rd March 1748, ten years after the discovery of Herculaneum, a fortunate discovery of certain finds in the vicinity of Civita, refocused the attention of the Bourbon excavations to this area. Initially believed to be the city of Stabiae, only in 1763 were the ruins discovered to instead be those of the ancient city of Pompeii.
270 years later, the anniversary of this great beginning, which changed the course of archaeological history and gave the unique heritage of Pompeii to the world, is celebrated through the announcement of new excavations, which recently began in a section of Regio V. This is an important excavation in an area which has not been investigated since the postwar period.
The ongoing intervention relates to an area of over 1000 m2, the so-called ‘wedge’, positioned between the House of the Silver Wedding and the House of Marcus Lucretius Fronto.
The excavation site forms part of the largest intervention to stabilise the excavation fronts, which mark the c. 22 ha unexcavated area of Pompeii.
More than 2.5km of ancient walls will be stabilised, while the unexcavated area behind the excavation fronts, in Regiones I-III-IV-V-IX, will be targeted by an intervention aimed at mitigating hydrogeological risk, ensuring adequate draining of the soil which will reduce the thrusting force of earth on the ancient walls, a particularly persistent problem in rainy periods.
The comprehensive intervention across all fronts of the ancient city will form part of the work of the Great Pompeii Project, and will last approximately two years, at a total cost of around €8.5 million.
Works will proceed methodically though smaller sites in order to continue guaranteeing access to the site. Updates on work progress will be issued periodically.
The excavation of the wedge is bringing structures and finds from private and public rooms to light, which will contribute towards the enrichment of our understanding of the site and the advance of archaeological research.
The first phase of intervention has seen the removal of all earth from the excavations at the turn of the twentieth century, which were dumped into the are of the wedge.
Beneath these levels, the volcanic stratigraphy has been identified, with the ash layer superimposed on the lapillus layer.
Among the currently revealed rooms adjacent to the Casa della Soffitta, an open area has been identified, which was probably utilised as a garden, and whose function will be able to be better defined thanks to investigations and paleobotanical analyses which the Archaeological Park of Pompeii will carry out alongside the excavation. In the south-eastern corner of this space, some amphorae have already been discovered, whose typology and contents are currently being studied.
Not far beyond, the alley which begins at Via di Nola and flanked the House of the Silver Wedding is emerging. Slightly uphill, it still bears its original form, with the base of the pavements and entrances to the buildings which faced onto it.
In the Vicolo delle Nozze d’Argento, certain archaeological structures are coming to light, including the entrance to a domus, with framed frescoed walls with a red background and the painted image of a pair of dolphins in the centre.
In the logistics area, specifically built on the plateau of Regiones IV and V, a large archaeological depository has been established along with an adjoining laboratory, to oversee the washing, signing, preliminary study and temporary preservation of finds which emerge from the excavations.
An unexpected event in the archaeological investigations carried out so far has been the discovery of a great number of finds, such as antefixes and clay decorations, fragments of frescoes and stucco as well as fragments of amphorae and stamped bricks, in the earth displaced by the nineteenth and early twentieth century excavations which were carried out nearby. Most probably there was little interest at the time to recover fragmentary or non reconstructible objects, and thus they were discarded.
From this point on, the excavations will proceed into layers which have lain undisturbed since the eruption of AD 79, and will be able to yield surprising finds which be the focus of multidisciplinary study and new methodologies of analysis.
“We return to large scale excavation at Pompeii, but above all we will use new technologies available to archaeology (from drones to georadar) and the support of an interdisciplinary team.”
- declares Massimo Osanna, Director General of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii –
In addition to those of conservation, techniques of vulcanology, paleobotany, anthropology and archaeozoology will be employed. This constant meeting of professions will allow us to thoroughly document each excavation phase, and understand all aspects which contribute to the reconstruction of Vesuvian life and landscape in AD 79.
The extensive stabilisation of the excavation fronts and the investigation of the wedge represent the largest intervention in the unexcavated area of Pompeii since the postwar period. Before now small filling interventions have been conducted in the most critical sections. Today we are moving onto a radical phase of consolidating the fronts and identifying a definitive solution to the problem of water accumulation in the soil. By 2019, the archaeological area of Pompeii will be fully consolidated.”
Director General of Project Gen. B. CC, Mauro Cipolletta, declares: “The GPP ‘M’ intervention - the stabilisation intervention of the excavation fronts and the mitigation of hydrogeological risk in Regiones I III IX IV V of the archaeological site - remains one of the most important undertakings of the Great Pompeii Project with community coverage, announced in August 2015 and awarded in May 2016. This is one of the most financially significant interventions conducted under the GPP Plan of Works, which will presumably conclude by May 2019, and certainly within the terms of closure of PON 2017-2020. Despite the complex articulation of the site, the General Direction of the Project, together with the Archaeological Park of Pompeii will ensure full compliance with the Legality Protocol, through access and payment checks and the constant monitoring of transactions between all parties in the supply chain, in support of the work of the Department for the Planning and Coordination of Economic Policy (DIPE) of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, through the transfer of data gathered in the Monitoring of Major Works information system”.