Another collapse at Pompeii renews calls for better care

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Less than a month after Pompeii’s so-called House of Gladiators collapsed into rubble, portions of a garden wall at the nearby House of the Moralist fell down on Tuesday, prompting new calls to better safeguard the city buried by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

A stretch of garden wall ringing an ancient house in Pompeii which gave way after days of torrential rain is cordon-off in Pompeii, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010. Pompeii officials said an inspection found that a 40-foot (12-meter)-long section of wall forming part of the perimeter of a garden area near the House of the Moralist gave way in several points. They said the extreme sogginess of the soil brought down the wall in an area that hasn't been excavated near the house. (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta) Antonio Varone, Pompeii’s director of excavations, said the house – which actually consists of two adjacent abodes that belonged to two families – was in no danger.

The wall, which bordered an unexcavated area and was shored up earlier this year, had been completely rebuilt after the United States bombing of the Naples area in World War II, according to the culture ministry. Mr. Varone told the news agency ANSA that the wall had most likely succumbed to the “incredible, incessant torrential rains” that have washed over central Italy in recent days.

“These atmospheric phenomena are so unusual that they’ve even surpassed the protection that we have set into place,” he said. Pompeii officials were monitoring the areas most at risk, he said.

Demands that the Italian government take better care of its fragile archaeological sites grew after the collapse in early November of the Schola Armaturarum, whose walls were decorated with frescoes of military themes. Political opponents of the government have called for the resignation of the culture minister, Sandro Bondi, and a confidence vote is expected in December.

On Tuesday, Tsao Cevoli, president of Italy’s National Association of Archaeologists, said that the collapse of the wall was further “proof of the incompetence with which Minister Bondi and this government has handled the situation at Pompeii,” ANSA reported.


Author: Elizabetta Povoledo | Source: The New York Times [November 30, 2010]


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