Ancient Pompeii Is Collapsing

Parts of 2 structures crumbled over weekend

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 3, 2014 7:02 AM CST

(Newser) – Pompeii's "perfectly preserved" streets were uncovered in 1748; centuries later, that perfect preservation no longer holds. A series of collapses have fouled the site in recent years, with officials confirming that an 11-foot-long stretch of tomb wall was found to have crumbled early yesterday, on the heels of a more modest collapse the day prior at the Temple of Venus. Heavy rains are believed to be the cause—or at least part of it. The Italian government intends to delve in to the issue, with the country's culture minister calling site officials to Rome tomorrow for an emergency meeting, reports Reuters.

At issue is what appears to be a growing trend: More than a dozen buildings have broken apart since 2010, leading to questions about how well Pompeii is being managed. The Telegraph reports that concerns first emerged after the 2010 collapse of the House of the Gladiators, which resulted in $145 million being provided for restoration work that began in February 2013. But some say that safeguarding "a few important houses" is not what Pompeii needs. "It needs workmen who can provide daily maintenance," like keeping drainage channels clear, says one Pompeii expert. "Nothing is being done to reduce the risk of (damage from) rain." She cites "in-fighting at the ministry of culture" as problematic, and the Sydney Morning Herald adds that corrupt officials and the local mafia (more on the Camorra crime family here) got in the way of previous maintenance and restoration work. And while maintenance workers may not be digging around the drains, researchers are, and they recently announced an unusual find.

Bricks and rocks are seen on the ground after, according to Italian media, they collapsed from the Porta Nocera doorway in Pompeii, as a consequence of a rainstorm, Sunday, March 2, 2014.
Bricks and rocks are seen on the ground after, according to Italian media, they collapsed from the Porta Nocera doorway in Pompeii, as a consequence of a rainstorm, Sunday, March 2, 2014.   (APhoto/Salvatore La Porta)
Bricks and rocks are seen on the ground after, according to Italian media, they collapsed from The Temple of Venus, in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.
Bricks and rocks are seen on the ground after, according to Italian media, they collapsed from The Temple of Venus, in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.   (APhoto/Salvatore La Porta)
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