Sarcophagus Fragment, Roman, ca. 240-250 CE, The Art Institute of Chicago

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pompeii crubmling

I've never been to Pompeii. In fact, I've only been to Italy once, and I was mostly in Venice on that trip. The closest I've ever been to Pompeii was the "Pompeii" exhibit that rolled through the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry a few years back. Since long before then, I have dreamed of strolling through the ancient streets and peering into doorways to find polychrome frescoes or delicately laid mosaics. Nowhere in that fantasy do I picture myself having to step over someones used mattress, but apparently that's the reality today. It's shocking, though by no means surprising, that Italy has let Pompeii take a nose dive towards destruction. Italy, the very country that chases down illegally traded antiquities all over the world, can't even protect what is probably the most important Roman site ever discovered. Italy has a long history of under-maintaining its historical sites. But, in their defence, you can't walk ten feet in Italy without tripping over a Roman ruin. Still, it's politics that dictate where the money goes in Italy, and the Italian government works as smooth and efficiently as a 70's vintage Fiat. The fact that Pompeii has been left to crumble is an enormous blow not only to the Italy's reputation, but to future generations, who depend of the current stewards of historical sites to keep them in good repair. The damage is done in Pompeii and can probably only be slowed, not stopped or reversed. The irony is that digging up Pompeii in the first place is what brought about it's destruction; for a second time that is. I still dream about going to Pompeii and the surrounding area. I still read books on the subject and hope one day to do some research there. Hopefully there will be a Pompeii for me to visit one day, and I hope that I won't have to climb over any one's garbage in the process.


Leif said...

"Italian government works as smooth and efficiently as a 70's vintage Fiat. "

Hilarious! Also illustrated by what Italy is NOT doing with garbage in Naples.

Sad though that a discovery such as this is left alone.