“Visitors will be able to see what remains of the association of gladiators of ancient Pompeii,” director of the archaeological park of Pompeii, Massimo Osanna, told press as he reopened the Schola Armaturarum site to the public today.
“The team of restorers were able to piece together the frescoes that had crumbled after collapsing in November 2010,” he said, adding that “collapses at the archaeological site of Pompeii are a closed chapter.”
— Pompeii Sites (@pompeii_sites) January 3, 2019
Pompeii has come a long way since 2013, when Unesco threatened to place it on its list of world heritage sites in peril unless Italian authorities improved conditions.
The threat followed several incidents including the collapse of the Schola Armaturarum and a number of walls.
The ruined House of Gladiators after it collapsed in 2010. Photo: Roberto Salomone/AFP
A lack of staff also meant that unsupervised tourists were able to steal or damage parts of the site either by touching and moving relics or by climbing on them.
A travel blogger apologised last year after climbing onto an ancient column for a photo, bragging that there was “no one around” to stop him.
Meanwhile an American tourist was reprimanded by police for shifting one of the site's precious mosaics as he was trying to get a better picture, while a French visitor was charged with attempting to make off with fragments of pottery.
Even well-behaved tourists can be seen as a problem, with some saying the influx of tour groups traipsing through is “wearing out” the ancient site.
There are still not enough staff at the site, Osanna admits, with one hundred guards across a 44-hectare site assisted by around fifty young volunteers.
Mount Vesuvius towers over the ruins of Pompeii. Photo: Mario Laporta/AFP
“They are in any case insufficient, but it was all we could do ourselves,” Osanna said, adding that he’s hoping for more assistance from the government.
However he said there will be more high-tech video surveillance at the site, “to put an end to the phenomenon of people taking selfies on the columns”, said Osanna.
The theft of artefacts is becoming less of a problem after a display of items returned by repentant thieves was created.
The Pompeii ruins, which attract some four million visitors a year, were discovered in the 16th century, with the first excavations beginning in 1748. Remains of around 1,500 of an estimated 2,000 victims have been found.
Intriguing discoveries continue to be made at Pompeii nearly two millennia and scores of excavations later.
Last week, archeaologists uncovered the skeleton of a horse thought to have belonged to a high-ranking Roman military official, as it had been mounted with a harness and “modern” wooden and bronze saddle.
Other surprises unearthed so far this year include the skeleton of a man thought to have been decapitated while fleeing his home, a house with an elaborate shrine; well-preserved mosaics, and a bedroom fresco depicting an erotic scene from the Greek myth Leda and the Swan,
Earlier this year, an inscription was uncovered that suggests the Ancient Roman city might have been destroyed a full two months laterthan previously thought.