Archaeology and Pompeii

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  • Topic: Archaeology, Mount Vesuvius, Herculaneum
  • Pages : 8 (2908 words )
  • Download(s) : 285
  • Published : September 26, 2005
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Undoubtedly one of the world's best known archaeological sites Pompeii's fame comes from its dramatic destruction and extraordinary preservation as a result of an eruption of Mount Vesuvius. On February 5, A.D. 62, Pompeii was the epicenter of a severe earthquake that caused considerable structural damage to buildings and the infrastructure of the city. A process of repair and redevelopment was slow and extensive, involving projects such as the embellishment of the Forum and the rebuilding of the Temple of Isis, and also attempts to re-establish the city's water supply, which had been severely disrupted. Then again on August 20, A.D. 79, Pompeii was rocked by more earth tremors, although they didn't seem to have been as severe as the 62 earthquake. When springs in the area dried up the citizens didn't recognize that these were signs of the imminent eruption. Therefore when the volcano went off between noon and 1pm on August 24, it caught everyone by surprise. Pompeii and Herculaneum were to remain buried for around 1,700 years. Survivors of the eruption must have decided that rebuilding on the site was out of the question, but some researchers claim that there were signs that for a time people lived in the ruins, and a fishing community probably existed at the mouth of the nearby river Sarno. During the later Roman period, and into the Middle Ages, Pompeii was forgotten, apart from perhaps a remnant folk memory, only existing as a name for the area, La Cività. Surprisingly there are still archaeologist working in Pompeii, and the Anglo-American Project in Pompeii or the AAPP is one group that has been doing it for many summers.

The University of Bradford in Britain runs the AAPP as a multi-disciplinary, long-term field project which also trains future archaeologists in a field school environment. Rick Jones and Damian Robinson direct the AAPP. Their project is not cleaning new areas of volcanic debris. Their priority in Pompeii now is to record, understand, and preserve what has already been exposed. They are one of a group of research projects working in Pompeii in collaboration with the Italian archaeological authorities, the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei. They are committed both to improving understanding of the ancient city and to preserving the site for future generations.

The AAPP is investigating a complete block of Pompeii and have been working in the oddly shaped city block of Regio VI, insula 1, located in the north-west corner of Pompeii. They have also documented the history of these archaeological remains from their first excavation to the present day and aim to link the work to research across the city as a whole. By applying rigorous modern scientific archaeological techniques they're asking new questions of the data collected, and the work is leading to new insights into Pompeii.

Although the AAPP is interested in the condition of city life in AD 79 when Vesuvius erupted, they are investigating below the destruction level to get an understanding of the whole history of activity and development in VI, 1. They believe that one of their greatest achievements is the approach to both research and education. The team involves around 40 staff members including excavators, specialists, illustrators, and historians. Every summer the staff works closely with a large group of international students. Over the past eight years the AAPP have had staff and over 300 students from over 20 countries including the United States, Britain, Australia, Hong Kong, Romania, Albania, France, Spain, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Canada, New Zealand, Israel, Puerto Rico, Denmark, Finland, Macedonia, and Russia. Their contributions have provided one of the most complete in-depth studies of any area in Pompeii. For over 200 years now, the same moment in Pompeii's history has been revisited, the moment it was fossilized as an archaeological site. Year after year, visitors have stroll through its...
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