.. hat the structure looked like two thousand years ago. So it is mostly educated guess work on their part. But when it comes to post-1980 (after the earthquake), every thing can be restored back to the original state since its appearance is well documented. In the case of painted coating, it is a little more complicated.
It is now easy to restore painted coating in labs, but the in situ restorations are still very hard to do. We must start with restoring the wall itself, working from the outside of the wall which is usually in worst shape. The method that seems to give the best results is the injection of a solution that will regenerate the ancient mortar instead of replacing it. Solvents are used to clean and glue the chipping paint. The solvents are all very toxic, and, since the restorers need to work on big surfaces in closed areas, it can sometimes be dangerous for them.
The humidity needs to be controlled as well. The first thing to do, is replacing or restoring the existing roofing, or build a new one. That will usually protect the inside of a house from water damage. Most houses have a problem with the bases of their walls which are not waterproof. The water seeps in the wall from the base, which accounts for the frescoes being more damaged on the bottom portion.
There is experimenting being done on rendering the base of the walls safe from water with injections of epoxy, but the usual method is the introduction of lead sheets at the base of the wall that prevent the water from making its way up. Wood was a material widely used for construction in Pompeii and one that was never meant to last for millennia. Since it is often a crucial element of the construction, it must be replaced if the houses and different buildings are meant to stay open to tourists and archaeologists alike. Depending on what essence and where it is used, the replacement wood will last anywhere from three to two hundred years. There are three different categories: contact with ground, without contact but exposed, and without contact and covered. The wood which is in contact with the ground will decay faster because of an increased exposure to water and air.
Without-contact-but-exposed wood will last longer but not as long as a piece covered by a ceiling or a wall. Wood is chosen according to its density: oak, elm and chestnut have to highest density, while fir and poplar have the lowest. Another thing to consider is in what size the wood can be available; green oak has the highest density, but is very small, so a less dense oak is used which comes in bigger pieces. The price is also an important factor, since the budget for restoration is ridiculously small. Before being used in restoration, the wood is treated to make it last longer and to protect it against insects. A compound of chromium salt and copper is used to dry and preserve the wood, but it leaves the treated piece with a greenish tint. To keep moss and crawlers away, the wood is impregnated with pentachlorophenol. All these treatments mean that treated oak and chestnut used in a protected area can be expected to last up to five hundred years.
But all this costs a lot of money, and cheaper wood has often been utilized in the past to cut down on expenses. We now know that it was not a very good idea. The control of vegetation is primordial. Strangely enough, the best way to fight weed is to grow grass! In open spaces, if it is well tended to, its roots will take all the room in the soil and make it hard for other plants to grow in the same area. Trees do not really cause a problem if they are far enough from houses and streets, and they ad a sense of serenity to the city.
The biggest problem is with the plants in walls. They must be removed, but we must never try to remove the roots, since doing so might damage the wall further. As for cracks and holes on walls where plants grow, the best way is to prevent the plants from growing in the first place by covering them with either epoxy or cement, or whatever is appropriate. Although the town could be sprayed for weed, the only really effective product would damage the sensitive architecture and can therefore not be used. Pompeii does have gardeners, but they tend to the replicas of the ancient gardens in the villas. Pompeii needs a staff of full time gardeners who could detect problem plants and deal with them before it is too late. B) Control of Tourists: Although it is a good idea to limit the areas open to the public for the time being, it would not be a good idea to close Pompeii to the public either. We must find a way for the locals to stop seeing Pompeii has just another place to go play ball on week-ends, to loose this familiarity, and to start taking the preservation of the site at heart.
With proper education, visitors can be a great tool in achieving the goal of preserving Pompeii for future generations. A bigger percentage of the admission fee is now being used for preservation of the site. The guards are too few in numbers and do not care enough to really do their job. Here again, education could make all the difference. Visitors should not be allowed to visit the site unaccompanied; mandatory tours should be imposed to make sure no one gets into the restricted areas. Guards should patrol these areas more often and fines should be given to those visitors who do not follow the rules.
The problem with the buses running for hours just to keep the air-conditioning on while waiting for the tourists to come back can be easily resolved: just make it illegal, and, again, fine those who do not comply with the rules. C) Effective Management of Site Funds: In 1996, the region of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Torre Annunziata was included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list of most endangered sites. By having the region labeled has a World Heritage Site, Italy was morally bound to step up plans to restore the ruins. The government allowed Pompeii to keep and use a larger portion of the admission fee for conservation, which was a much-awaited permission. In 1995, Pompeii got a new superintendent, Prof.
Pietro Giovanni Guzzo. He replaced Baldassare Conticello, the previous superintendent, who sought to bring in tourist money by keeping Pompeii in the news with a steady stream of flashy discoveries. But such massive new digs sap badly needed money from the restoration and maintenance of disintegrating structures and the publication results, and add to the number of artifacts and buildings demanding conservation. The new superintendent seems to be well aware of the condition of Pompeii and seems to have a good idea of what needs to be done to stop its slow destruction. He put a halt on projects for excavating the third of the city which is still under the ash, and he will therefore be able to concentrate his efforts on the excavated part which is in danger. In 1997, there were only 34 out of 163 acres opened, half of what was accessible in the 1950’s. The rest is simply too fragile for the public to visit.
The superintendent estimated that a once-over restoration would cost 500 billion lire ($310 million) and take ten years; at the moment, the entire annual budget is only 5 billion lire ($3.1 million). Conclusion The problem of Pompeii is one that must be addressed by the Italian government and the Classical community without any further delays. Pompeii is unique and should not have gone so long without proper care. We saw in the project how the bulk of the problem comes from preventable conditions which have gone unchecked because of a lack of funds. Vegetation can be controlled, and so can tourists.
Earthquakes and storms cannot be prevented, but their effects can be anticipated and measures can be taken to limit the damages. We saw how walls can be consolidated with epoxy and cement, and how wall covering can be protected with careful restoration and protection from sun and water damage. We also saw how the best way to treat the weed problem is to grow grass in large open areas and to cover holes and cracks on walls to keep plants from taking up residence. It was also explained how the problem of pollution could easily be addressed with education of the visitors and enforced with small fines. We now know that it is not worth using cheaper products in terms of restoration, but we must still deal with past errors.
The problem in treating the problems is that there is a lack of money. Although the Italian government as promised many time an increase in budget for Pompeii, those promises have yet to materialize, if not for the small increase in the percentage kept from the admission fees. The arrival of Prof. Pietro Giovanni Guzzo as superintendent is great news for Pompeii since he seems to be the first to take the problems of conservation seriously. There is an unfounded feeling that Pompeii will last forever and that all this can wait.
This could easily be addressed by educating the public: people need to realize the eminent danger in which is Pompeii, and the effects their actions have. Even if the future of this beloved ancient city may appear grim sometimes, it is best to remember that it is not too late for Pompeii. Once the problems and their solutions have been identified, it is easier to go ahead and get different areas of expertise working with the local and federal government of Italy. Let us simply hope that they do that as soon as possible. Bibliography Adam, Jean-Pierre. Degradation et restauration de l’architecture Pompienne. Paris: ditions du Centre National de la recherche scientifique, 1983.
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