Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Three further walls collapse at Pompeii


After the collapse at the House of the Gladiators last month, yet more parts of the world-famous Roman city of Pompeii in southern Italy have fallen down, archaeological officials at the site admitted on Tuesday.

Following days of heavy rain a twelve metre section of a wall associated with the House of the Moralist gave way and collapsed after the wooden revetted terraces behind it slumped.

The building is only 30 metres from the 2,000-year-old House of the Gladiators, whose collapse on 6 November shocked the world and drew calls for Italy’s culture minister Sandro Bondi to resign and is a major source of embarrassment to Berlusconi’s goverment. Bondi has however, remained in his post and denies accusations that he has neglected the world-heritage site, saying he is not to blame.

However he commented that “Between September 2003 and February 2010 there have been 16 collapses at Pompeii — so you see they don’t just happen when the centre-right is in government.”

The House of the Moralist, lies on one of Pompeii’s main streets, the Via dell’Abbondanza, and consists of two connecting properties which belonged to two related wine merchants, T. Arrius Polites and M. Epidius Hymenaeus.

The house derives its name from three rules of etiquette which appear on black painted panels on the triclinium wall. Written in white lettering the rules required by the owners of the house may be summarised as follows:
Let water wash your feet clean and a slave wipe them dry; let a cloth cover the couch
Remove lustful expressions and flirtatious tender eyes from another man’s wife; may there be modesty in your expression
Postpone your tiresome quarrels if you can, or leave and take them home with you

The triclinium is one of the house’s better preserved rooms and the wall that collapsed was in the building’s garden and did not contain frescoes or affect other elements of the structure, Naples daily Il Mattino reported.

However, Jeannette Papadopoulos, Pompeii’s recently appointed superintendent, told Il Mattino. “We are living in a continuous state of emergency. Pompeii is a frail town; all walls without a covering are at risk if this heavy rains continues.”
Director of excavations Antonio Varone and a team of technical experts were assessing the damage to the wall and nearby stuccoes. It is not immediately clear if the wall had stood since the time of ancient Rome or had been reconstructed when Pompeii was excavated.

In a further statement from Pompeii’s archaeological superintendent department they said the other collapses involved an area three metres long of a wall along one of the site’s main streets, the Via Stabiana and a small part of a side room in the House of the Small Lupanar, which was not open to the public.

Earlier this month, following the collapse of the House of Gladiators, officials warned that almost three-quarters of Pompeii was in danger of collapse. This latest embarrassing collapse only increases the call to ensure that the significant revenue that Pompeii brings into the Italian heritage system, is utilised for its upkeep.