(AGI) Tripoli – In his first visit outside of Europe, the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti brought back to Tripoli an ancient roman sculpture, the so-called “Domitilla’s head”, in a bid to show that relations with Libya have now changed.
Domitilla was Emperor Vespasian’s daughter. The sculpture dates back from the first century b.C and it was stolen in Sabrata in 1990. “Domitilla’s head” was taken away from the body of the statue and ended up in an auction at Christie’s in London. It was then bought by an art collector from Rome, to be eventually found by the Cultural Heritage Division of the Italian Carabinieri.
Pompeii is in crisis. A Unesco report has identified serious problems with the World Heritage Site, including structural damage to buildings, vandalism and a lack of qualified staff. Unesco’s director-general for culture, Francesco Bandarin, tells The Art Newspaper: “The state of conservation is a problem, because of a lack of maintenance of very fragile structures. Visitor services need a dramatic improvement”.
(Via Blogging Pompeii.)
Martin G Conde’s blog has ongoing information on the calamity that’s besetting Italian archaeology and the management of its important sites, at least in Rome. Apparently the people named below can’t even see (or don’t care) about the complete trashing of what is some of the most important Italian, European and world heritage. Probably while Berlusconi remains in power there (and it seems he’s been distracted from actually running the country for over a decade with his ‘bunga bunga’ parties, lavish gifts poured on underage prostitutes and whatnot) the situation won’t improve. Although with the state of Italian finances being what they are you can’t expect there’s going to be a massive budget available to fix the problems. Still, the worst of it probably just requires a bit of political will and an attention span for something other than “hookers and cocaine”.
The linked newspaper headline (in Italian) says something like “Tourists take pictures of the degradation that besieges Roman archaeology. A shack with views of the Colosseum, the illegal immigrants living in the ruins. Mattresses, cookies, and empty wallets. Clothes and backpacks are hidden in the drain.” There’s also a link to a video, which shows the appalling conditions that people have to live in modern Italy. Its not just an affliction of the archaeological authorities – if they can solve, or at least ameliorate, the homeless immigrant problem then they won’t have people seeking to camp out in the archaeology, I would have thought. Anyway it’s a complex social issue but I don’t think it’s the place of archaeological sites to take the spillover and the Italian and Roman authorities ought to look after their heritage with a bit more care than they are showing.
Rome, Via dei Fori Imperiali (2011): The Abuse & Neglect of the Ruins: Obvious to Everyone Except: F. Giro (Under-Secretary of Italian Culture), Prof. A. Carandini (Presidential Cultural Advisor), & G. Alemanno (Mayor of Rome). Il Messaggero (03/11/2011)., a photo by Martin G. Conde on Flickr. Rome, the Via dei Fori Imperiali (2011): The Abuse […]