Twelve ancient fountains were restored in the Pompeii ruins thanks to the Great Pompeii Project: eight of them were prepared for water supply. They were encrusted with calcareous material, mosses and lichens mixed with terrain that covered the friezes 2,000 years ago subtracting from the original beauty: now, some of the fountains of ancient Pompeii have been restored and the work of cleaning, performed by the Opificio Pietre Dure of Florence (an institute of the Italian Ministry of Culture), returned the monumental value of the "totem" of drinking water present in the excavations. Among these, there is the white fountain of the goddess Concordia: it represents the face of a woman with big eyes, with earrings at her lobes, a soft robe and a cornucopia for which was mistaken for the Goddess of Abundance. Due to this misconception, the first archaeologists gave the name “Via dell’Abbondanza” (Street of the Abundance) to one of the main streets of the ancient city of Pompeii.
There are 40 fountains scattered around in the streets of the ruins of Pompeii, dispensers of free water to the tourists, but also - for decades - put at risk their conservation.
One of the Superintendence’s project has finally started the restructuring and rationalization. "This first operation carried out to the fountains with the funds of the Great Pompeii Project, concerned at the time the fountains along the route "Pompeii for all" only - explains the general director of the excavations, Massimo Osanna - thanks to the experience and expertise of the “Opificio delle Pietre Dure”, which we have used for the works of cleaning and consolidation, with a result of great excellence that has given splendor to an important part of urban ancient Pompeii. It is important what they did both for the history of water supply in the ancient town and their aesthetic value". The project had a cost of about 150,000 euros, and will be followed by another one concerning the remaining fountains, who will be paid by ordinary funds.
The fountains of ancient Pompeii are mostly in blocks of lava stone, and dark gray. The oldest are in gray tuff. "They are all beautiful for the emotions they give, because they still show signs of workmanship of the artisans that have shaped them and the wear suffered by the inhabitants of Pompeii before the eruption of 79 AD." says Alberta Martellone, one of the archaeologists who participated on the restoration project. The water system is connected to the one of the new city of Pompeii and it was already active in the '30s. Indeed, there is an image of the Istituto Luce (an institute created during the Fascist era involved in the production and distribution of films and documentaries intended for being screened in cinemas) that depicts the fountain of the crossroads of the Holconi with Pablo Picasso visiting to the ruins, accompanied by Jean Cocteau. "Some dispensers were cemented and the salts of the concrete infiltrated the stone blocks with the risk of splitting them" explains architect Gianluca Vitagliano, director of works. The protective treatment for stone materials will prevent a further deterioration.
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Preserved in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples are the individual islets and homes, as they appeared at the time of realization of the cork model of the excavations, created between 1861 and the 1929. This experience is now possible thanks to the 3D model produced by the Institute for Cultural and monumental heritage of the CNR.
"It is a powerful study tool - explains Daniele Malfitana, director of IBAM-Cnr - but also of disclosure. Produced through an original methodology of "macro-aerophotogrammetry" by the specialists of the Laboratory of Archaeology and immersive multimedia IBAM, the plastic 3D trip also returns the image of contexts no longer visible today, for the loss of decorative walls and equipment".
The project results is presented today, Monday, February 20th at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples by the Director Paolo Giulierini and the Director of IBAM-Cnr Daniele Malfitana.
The construction of the plastic in wood and cork in 1: 100 scale of Pompeii was initiated in 1861 and continued until 1879. It currently doesn’t cover the entire surface excavated and was implemented with other pieces until 1929. The process of digitization and 3D modeling has committed archaeologists (G. Amara) and specialists of multimedia techniques (S. Barone, G. Fragalà and D. Pavone) in an accurate photographic documentation campaign carried out on the field. Via a mobile cart built to perform the "photographic crawl" on the area of plastic and through an original methodology of "macro-aerophotogrammetry", specialists have been able to acquire the data set needed to transform into 3D of many structures and home, which from now on will be perfectly navigable. The plastic of Pompeii, as conservative reproduction of how the archaeological excavation was at the time, returns a reconstructive picture of now irrevocably lost contexts, of the wall decorations in advanced decay, of lost plasters and environments of which the plastic is sometimes the only witness. “Our study - says Malfitana - wants to give voice to this extraordinary witness and to the stories related to it, without neglecting the extraordinary social and popular value of the two models, the cork and the virtual ".
The CNR of Catania has worked since 2015 on a plastic clone of Pompeii, using the same three-dimensional scanning technique tested in Pompeii for the necropolis of Porta Nocera, where the Sicilian archaeologists are busy with the German team of the Pompeii Sustainable Preservation Project, the international project coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Stuttgart, the Institute of restoration of the University of Monaco of Bavaria, the Pompeii Superintendence and involves the participation, in addition to the IBAM-CNR, also of the University of Oxford , of the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Monaco of Bavaria, of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut in Rome and the University of Pisa. “The prestigious collaboration with the Ibam-Cnr - says Giulierini - confirms the will of the museum to be opened to scientific collaborations of excellence in view of the strengthening of research and a more dynamic use of the museum heritage ".
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The French, after the glories of the Napoleonic era, are to return to "dominate" Pompeii. A consortium of French entrepreneurs has a project to invest 2 million per year until 2027.
This was confirmed by spokesman of the European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu that on the 9th of February visited Pompeii with the Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini, to take stock of the situation of the European funding of the Great Pompeii Project. “The involvement of the French group in one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world is a proof that the private can be a key resource to be attached to the public” said the spokesman.
The public-private synergy has become a trend that is spreading around the world and that the European Union looks favorably, according to Mrs. Cretu. This should not mean a disengagement of the public to the private, but a synergy for the protection and enhancement of the main sites of historical and artistic interest. A thesis shared also by UNESCO, increasingly concerned about the degradation in which some places elected "World Heritage" are.
Returning to the French funding, it must be said that in 2011 Pompeii was already part of a business project which, however, after a long negotiation, has never started. Now it seems that it will end positively. It is not a coincidence that the United Nations are acting as guarantor to the new project.
The new French consortium interested in investing (thanks to the tax deduction that in France 'covers' of up to 60 percent of the loan) has also names which were already listed in the old group of 2011 (very close to the former French president Nicholas Sarkozy). But now the air seems changed and the 'cartel' of new investors, gathered around the architect Philippe Chaix can count on the "blessing" of the French government, currently performing "image" which also passes through the sponsorship of cultural projects outside of national boundaries. In Pompeii, the French will start immediately with the restoration of three domuses (houses) currently closed to the public, then they will continue with the recovery of a large area designated by the Superintendent.
The Italo-French agreement for the plan Save Pompeii also has the approval of Franceschini and the superintendent of Pompeii, Massimo Osanna, who said: "To ensure full transparency of the project we have changed the procurement code that will not allow anymore the mechanism, often perverse, of the subcontracts ". But in practice, what are the jobs that the French finance?
“I have proposed the first three houses to the French - explains the superintendent - among the most beautiful of Pompeii, in need of restoration work. The agreement is ten years of duration and it will involve large companies with equality between us and them”.
Finally, as reported by the Ambassador Francesco Caruso, consultant of the President of the Regione Campania for International Relations and UNESCO, there is also a project of restoration and enhancement of eight more sites in Campania under the protection of the United Nations.
With an intense and poignant voice, Sarah Jane Morris sends her message of great closeness to the migrants from all the world. It is the cry of solidarity that Pompeii expressed through the video clip recorded in the Small Theater of the ruins and in some rooms of the Villa of the Mysteries, made by the British jazz singer together with the guitarist Antonio Forcione.
The video idea came after a visit to the excavations that left enchanted the artists, who were inspired by the timeless atmosphere of the site. They asked to pay homage to the ancient city with one of their songs, called “The sea”, with a strong social message, dedicated to the tragedy of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and recorded exclusively for the Pompeii Superintendency. The song is part of the album “Compared to what”, an intense work not only from a musical point of view, but also for the content, with pieces dedicated to sensitive issues such as the refugees, violence against women, insecurity on the future of the times that we live in.
Sarah Jane Morris is a singer who became famous for her participation in the album of the same name of the Communards, in which she duets with Jimmy Somerville in the song “Do not Leave Me This Way”. She recorded some solo albums, which have achieved success especially in Italy and Greece. In 1991 she collaborated in the rock opera The Fall of the House of Usher by Peter Hammill (music) and Judge Smith (pamphlet), in which she played the part of the choir.
Antonio Forcione is a famous Italian guitar player who shared the stage and recorded with some of the world’s most accomplished musicians including Charlie Haden, Angelique Kidjo, Trilok Gurtu, Larry Coryell, Diego el Cigala and many more, as well as supporting giants music stars as Phil Collins, Bobby McFerrin, Zucchero and Van Morrison amongst others.
Together they have each been compared to an impressive array of musical geniuses including Janice Joplin and Tom Waits (vocally) as well as Jimi Hendrix (instrumentally) – a comparison Antonio wears with pride. They also exude a wonderful chemistry when performing together.
The album “Compared To What” is the result of this fruitful and varied songwriting collaboration. It covers a number of traumatic social issues and many songs of emotional intensity, which reflect the urgent concern both artists feel for the tragedy of refugees. Eight tracks on the 12-track album are original material co-written by Morris and Forcione and with some of the lyrics by Johny Brown, Sarah-Jane's long term collaborator. Alongside the songs of conscience, the album includes some wry comedy, love songs and some memorable covers, notably Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan and The Police’s classic “Message In A Bottle”.
“Compared To What” touches heights of great musical beauty both in Antonio’s unique virtuoso guitar playing and Sarah-Jane’s legendary octave- spanning voice, now more subtle and persuasive than ever, with range and power undiminished. The album is a triumph of collaboration between two of the most individual and richly talented musicians on the world stage.
You can find below the link to the video:
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Discovering the Temple of Isis
The Egyptian cults in Pompeii took place publicly, in the temple, and in private, inside small temples called “Larari”, created in the houses.
The most important public building for the Egyptian cults had to be the Temple of Isis. The temple is located in the so-called theater district, an area strongly characterized by the erection of various cultural buildings, inspired by Hellenistic models.
Its discovery, happened in the 1764, dates back to the first phase of the excavations. The diggers did not know to be in front of the one of Pompei worship that showcased a complete decoration, thanks to the restoration that had been made after the earthquake of 62 AD. At the time of the eruption in 79 AD, the Temple of Isis was in fact the only public building to be completely restored.
Accordance with the practice of the time, after the discovery, figurative paintings were removed and placed in the Museum of Portici and can still be seen at the National Museum of Naples, in a recently set-up that allows you to get an idea of the original arrangement on the walls of the various rooms.
The Temple of Isis dates back to the second century B.C. but the current system is due, however, to the period subsequent to the restructuring made after the earthquake of the 62 A.D. An inscription surmounting the entrance to the temple reads it:
“N(umerius) Popidius N(umeri) f(ilius) Celsinus aedem Isidis terrae motu conlapsam a fundamento p(equnia) s(ua) restituit; hunc decuriones ob liberalitatem, cum esset annorum sexs, ordini suo gratis adlegerunt”.
“Numerio Popidio Celsinus, son of Numerio, rebuilt from the ground up, at his own expense, the Temple of Isis, which collapsed in the earthquake. For his munificence the settlers, even though he was only six, admitted him to their order for free”.
But, what about how it is made? A porticoed courtyard, with stuccoed Corinthian columns, hosts the temple on a podium in its center, built at the end of the 2nd cent. BC and rebuilt in opus latericium immediately after the earthquake in 62 AD by N. Popidius Ampliatus, who gave credit for it to his son Celsinus to advance the latter's political career. The front steps lead to the pronaos, with four columns in front and two on the sides, and two side niches that held statues of Anubis and Harpokrates, Egyptian divinities related to the cult of Isis. At the back, in the wide cell, was the base for the religious statues, perhaps including the one of Isis found in the portico. Various service and worship rooms open along the portico, while the inside contains a well in the northeast corner, the purgatorium (fenced area with water basin used in purification rites), and altars. Rich sculptural, stucco and 'fourth style' painted plaster decorations abounded, detached during the excavation years (1764-1766) and now at the Naples Museum.
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Staff at Flashback Journey to Pompeii. Our goal is to bring you up-to-date information on events, continuing archeological excavations and more on Pompeii.