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Old July 3rd, 2006, 07:59 PM   #1
hkskyline
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Rome's Ancient Sites are at Eternal Peril

Rome's ancient sites are at eternal peril
By FRANCES D'EMILIO, Associated Press Writer
Sun Jul 2, 5:20 PM ET

Weeds with stone-splitting roots. Relentless traffic belching pollution. Tourists trampling across the once palatial residences of emperors. Earthquakes and terrorism waiting to happen.

From the imposing stone bulk of the Colosseum to the romantic ruins of imperial luxury atop the Palatine Hill, the Eternal City's monuments, once pillaged by foreign conquerors, today face an array of perils old and new.

Rome's fragile ruins have the urgent attention of teams of monument "doctors," armed with such high-tech instruments as micro-cameras probing for weak spots.

So far, the Colosseum has made it through two millennia, its imposing stone bulk still standing after quakes, lightning strikes, pillaging, traffic tearing round it and subway cars vibrating below. And now, following the terrorist bombings in London and Madrid, the great stadium where gladiators once thrilled the masses is equipped with metal detectors.

"The Colosseum is always worrisome because of the threat of an earthquake," said Giorgio Croci, an engineer who has been studying it for years.

Topping the experts' list of potential perils these days is the Palatine Hill.

"The Palatine is an area extremely dense in monuments in a more precarious state," said Croci in an interview in his studio on the Aventine, another of ancient Rome's seven hills.

"Frightening" and "terrifying" are the words used by Giovanna Tedone, an architect for the Palatine from the state's archaeology office, as she points out fissures and piles of crumbled brickwork during a walk around the towering ruins.

Roots of wildflowers and weeds bore through brick, and rainwater seeps through stone, forcing authorities to close most of the Palatine's 67 acres to tourists climbing up from the Roman Forum.

Green netting encloses a section of crumbled wall, built by the aristocratic Farnese family in the 16th century, which collapsed along the edges of the Domus Tiberiana in November. The wall gave way at night, when the Palatine was closed, and no one was hurt.

"We had the gods on our side," said Irene Iacopi, the archaeologist in charge of the Palatine and the Roman Forum.

Four architects and an engineer have spent months poking the Palatine's insides and monitoring cracks, using endoscopes similar to those that detect disease in human innards. The technology "helps us to do what we couldn't do before," says Angelo Bottini, the state's top official for archaeology in Rome. "All you need is to make a little hole in a wall, put in a probe and you get an image of the inside."

Excavations on the Palatine in recent decades have turned up wonders such as the Emperor Augustus' house, including two rooms with stunning frescoes of masked figures and pine branches which archaeologists hope to open to tourists once the Palatine is safer.

Much of the Palatine is still unknown, especially its underground passageways.

"We don't know where the tunnels end," said Croci. "In some tunnels there are frescoes covered with dirt. There is still a world to explore."

The national budget, sagging under the cost of generous pensions and health care, can't keep up with the pace of archaeology in a city where "every day there's a discovery," Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli, a former Rome mayor, said at the unveiling of a recently excavated 7th century B.C. frescoed Etruscan tomb of a warrior prince.

Archaeology authorities get to keep 80 percent of ticket sales at Roman sites, but the income doesn't cover the costs of preservation, said Bottini, the archeology official.

When results of the $1.25 million Palatine mapping project are turned in this month, the monument doctors will start checkups on other sites: the ancient forums, Trajan's Markets, Nero's Golden Palace and the Colosseum.

The Domus Aurea, as Nero's palace is known, reopened six years ago after a $3 million restoration, only to be closed again in December when heavy rains put it at risk of collapse.

While Croci says the Colosseum "has an incredible, extraordinary resistance," Rome has an earthquake every few centuries, the last at the start of the 18th century.

The engineer said relatively cheap measures could improve its safety, such as cables sunk vertically down the stone as anchors.

"From an engineering standpoint," he said, "Rome's monuments can go on for 10,000 more years."
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Old July 8th, 2006, 10:46 PM   #2
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I definitely have to se Rome once. I am impressed with these old buildings and ruins.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 02:34 AM   #3
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Words cannot describe Rome, you will be blown away.

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Old July 11th, 2006, 06:44 AM   #4
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I better see it before it all falls apart.
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Old January 24th, 2007, 06:53 AM   #5
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Rome's Palatine Hill shows new treasures
By ARIEL DAVID, Associated Press Writer
24 January 2007

Work on Rome's Palatine Hill has turned up a trove of discoveries, including what might be the underground grotto where ancient Romans believed a wolf nursed the city's legendary founders Romulus and Remus.

Archaeologists gathered Tuesday at a conference to save crumbling monuments on the Palatine discussed findings of studies on the luxurious imperial homes threatened by collapse and poor maintenance that have forced the closure of much of the hill to the public.

While funds are still scarce, authorities plan to reopen some key areas of the honeycombed hill to tourists by the end of the year, including frescoed halls in the palaces of the emperor Augustus and of his wife, Livia.

After being closed for decades, parts of the palaces will be opened for guided tours while restoration continues, officials said.

It was during the restoration of the palace of Rome's first emperor that workers taking core samples from the hill found what could be a long-lost place of worship believed by ancient Romans to be the cave where a she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus, the abandoned twin sons of the god of war Mars.

Irene Iacopi, the archaeologist in charge of the Palatine and the nearby Roman Forum, said experts used a probe to peer into the 52-foot-deep cavity and found a vaulted space decorated with frescoes, niches and seashells. It is too early to say for sure whether the worship place known as "lupercale"_ from "lupa," Latin for wolf — has been found, but Roman texts say that it was close to Augustus' palace and that the emperor had restored it, Iacopi said.

"It was a very important symbolic place and we believe that it was well preserved," said Giovanna Tedone, an architect leading the work at the palace. Archaeologists are now looking for the grotto's entrance, she said.

Other finds to have emerged recently from the Palatine's largely unexplored palaces and temples include an ancient Roman sewer, insignia believed to have belonged to the emperor Maxentius, terra-cotta statues and an alabaster tiger striped with gray marble.

Officials said the resurfaced treasures highlight the importance of a hill so favored by the rich and powerful that its name is at the origin of the words "palace" in English, "palais" in French and "palazzo" in Italian.

Today rainwater seeps through stones, roots bore through bricks and retaining walls crack under layer after layer of construction, from the eighth-century B.C. remains of Rome's first fledgling huts to a medieval fortress and Renaissance villas.

Only a quarter of the Palatine's nearly 500 buildings are above the ground and just 40 percent of the hill's 67 acres can be visited.

The latest closure came in November 2005, when a 16th-century wall collapsed one night in a well-visited area near the emperor Tiberius' palace. No one was hurt, but the collapse prompted authorities to study the stability of the hill and its monuments.

Experts said Tuesday they are considering restoring the ancient Roman sewage system to help drain rainwater.

Each year, 4 million people buy a ticket granting access to the Palatine and the nearby Colosseum, but 90 percent of them just go to the ancient arena, said Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli. The minister said that $9 million will be available in 2007 for more restoration on collapse-prone areas such as Tiberius' palace.
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Old February 6th, 2007, 12:08 PM   #6
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Rome Subway Planners Try to Avoid Relics
By ARIEL DAVID
3 February 2007

ROME (AP) - In a city where traffic rumbles past the Colosseum and soccer fans celebrate victories among the remains of the Circus Maximus, it comes as no surprise that relics of the glory that was Rome turn up almost every day, and sometimes get in the way of the modern city's needs.

The perennial tug-of-war between preserving ancient treasures and developing much-needed infrastructure is moving underground, as the city mobilizes archaeologists to probe the bowels of the Eternal City in preparation for a new, 15-mile subway line.

Eyesore yellow panels have sprung up over the past months to cordon off 38 archaeological digs, often set up near famous monuments or on key thoroughfares of the already chronically gridlocked historical center.

Rome's 2.8 million inhabitants can rely on just two subway lines, the "Metro A" and "B," which only skirt the center and leave it clogged with traffic and tourists. Plans for a third line that would service the history-rich heart of Rome have been put off for decades amid funding shortages and fears the work would grind to a halt amid a trove of discoveries.

Those discoveries may now be just a shovelful away as archaeologists dig through more than 17 million cubic feet of earth, documenting finds that go from modern to Roman times. They will then sit down with planners of Rome's "Metro C" line to discuss the engineering nightmare of shifting stairwells and redesigning stations to preserve any relics of note.

"It's bit of a slalom to preserve the finds and still get the subway done," said Fedora Filippi, the archaeologist who oversees a dig in front of the baroque church of Sant'Andrea della Valle. "This is the daily life of urban archaeologists who must confront difficult and fascinating sites like this one."

In mid January, working amid the noisy traffic jam created by the dig, Filippi uncovered the massive cement foundations of a Roman public building dating back to imperial times.

Filippi said that further study is needed, but the 13-foot-thick wall could belong to a swimming pool or to a temple dedicated to the goddess Fortune, parts of a monumental complex built in the area by Agrippa, trusted general and son-in-law of Rome's first emperor, Augustus.

Other finds emerging across the city include Roman taverns found near the ancient Forum; cellars of 16th-century palaces located in the middle of Piazza Venezia and Roman tombs found outside the walls containing the remains of two children encased in amphorae.

Under Italy's strict conservation laws, it will be up to the state's archaeological office for Rome to decide whether a find will be removed, destroyed or encased within the subway's structures.

Angry rows between conservationists and urban planners frequently erupt when state archaeologists descend on building sites where finds have been made, snarling or canceling projects.

Countless public and private works have been scrapped over the years in Rome and across Italy, and it is not uncommon for developers to fail to report a find and plow through ancient treasures.

In 1999, the government defied preservationists by going through with a parking garage that sliced through a Roman villa during hurried preparations for the Holy Year celebrations. The decision caused outrage especially due to the previous discovery of mosaics and ceramics from the villa in a garbage dump on Rome's outskirts.

Archaeologists and planners have since learned to work together, said Francesco Rotundi, project manager for Metro C.

"There is an increased awareness on everyone's part," he told The Associated Press during a tour Thursday of the archaeological dig in the historical Piazza Venezia. "Solutions are found, even if they require more time and money."

Pointing to a hand-drawn sketch of the site, Rotundi said planners had already moved a circular underground corridor to avoid destroying the remains of a Renaissance palace located by the dig.

The archaeological probes are needed only to clear the way for stairwells and air ducts, as the line's stations and tunnels in the center will be dug at a depth of 80-100 feet -- below the level of any human habitation ever, Rotundi said.

The euro3-billion ($3.9-billion) project is due for completion in 2015, but parts of the 30-station line are scheduled to open in 2011, sporting high-tech automatic trains transporting 24,000 passengers an hour.

Locals and visitors say the new subway is painfully needed.

"There aren't sufficient lines to get to all the major attractions," said Steve Scanlan, a 48-year-old Londoner on vacation with his family. "You have to use taxis, buses, which are more troublesome."

But the delays may not be over yet. Archaeologists say no major finds have been unearthed so far, but most of the digs still have to reach the earth strata that date back to Roman times, where plenty of surprises may be lying in wait.
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 05:06 AM   #7
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Vandals damage famed fountain in central Rome

ROME, May 15 (Reuters) - Italian police arrested four vandals in the early hours of Tuesday for damaging one of Rome's most famous fountains with a screw driver.

Passers-by alerted security forces when they saw four drunken people -- men from Ukraine, Lithuania and Moldova and a Russian woman -- scratching at a papal emblem on the Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Old Boat) at the foot of the Spanish Steps.

The fountain, created by Pietro Bernini and his son Gian Lorenzo in 1627-1629, has the form of a half-sunken ship with water flowing out of it.

Legend has it that Pope Urban VIII commissioned it in remembrance of a boat that was brought there in 1598 when the Tiber river flooded.

The scratch on the fountain, which like many other ancient monuments in Rome has been pockmarked by erosion and the passage of time, is barely visible but it is likely to rekindle the debate on how to protect Italy's architectural treasures.

"All one can do is restrict access to places like these but it's a shame that that has to be done," said a foreign tourist walking past the fountain.
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Old May 25th, 2007, 10:14 PM   #8
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Rome has survived for over two thousand years
& it's best will be with us for a long-time to come.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 05:52 AM   #9
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Definitely need to see Rome while it lasts.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 11:05 AM   #10
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We have to protect one of Planet Earth's most important treasures. So that people born hundreds or even thousands of years from now will have tangible remembrances on the majesty of the human race.

I suggest reclusion perpetua for anyone caught and proven as vandalizer, desecrator or destroyer of important structures.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 12:03 PM   #11
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Rome will last forever, but your right i should go see Rome.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 03:04 PM   #12
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The issues were present and still are present in the Construction of the Athens Metro.

Work is constantly halted inorder to preserve the ancient relics found whilst making the tunnels.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 04:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Passers-by alerted security forces when they saw four drunken people -- men from Ukraine, Lithuania and Moldova and a Russian woman -- scratching at a papal emblem on the Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Old Boat) at the foot of the Spanish Steps.
Oh God...I hate such people so much...Jeez...they are ******* philistines someone should chop their bloody hands!
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Old May 26th, 2007, 07:48 PM   #14
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I doubt those issues are any different from other cities' such as Athens, Alexandria, Aleppo, Jerusalem, the outskirts of Cairo etc. It's inevitable that buildings and their ruins deteriorate through time. We can do our best to preserve the most prominent ones but it's a uphill battle.
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Old June 14th, 2007, 11:05 AM   #15
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Who knew? Freshwater crabs thrive in Roman ruins
Sun Jun 3, 12:17 PM ET

ROME (AFP) - Who could have guessed that throughout the rise and fall of Rome's emperors, monarchs and politicians a lowly creature has reigned supreme in the ruins of Trajan's mighty empire?

Potamon fluviatile, an unassuming freshwater crab, has shown superior staying power, thriving in the canals built by the Etruscans nearly 3,000 years ago, Italian zoologists say.

The ancient ruins of Trajan's Forum in the heart of the Eternal City have provided the ideal habitat for the crustacean, which is much larger than its counterparts in lakes and rivers, Massimiliano Scalici told AFP.

The narrow canals that flow under Trajan's Forum lead to the Cloaca Massima, the ancient Roman sewage system built in the sixth century BC initially to drain local marshes.

"Early results of a genetic analysis that we are doing show that the genes of the crabs at Trajan are very close to those of Greek freshwater crabs," Scalici said.

"So it's very likely that they were introduced by the Greeks 2,500 or 3,000 years ago, which means they were here even before Rome was founded in 753 BC," he added.

While in nature the crab grows to a length of five centimetres (two inches), it is more robust in the ruins, growing to more than eight centimetres. "Once we found a moult (shed exoskeleton) measuring 12 centimetres!" Scalici said during a tour of the site.

"Gigantism is one animal response to isolation, and it is a phenomenon that requires a long time," he noted.

The hardy crabs have also "shown extraordinary adaptation" in a habitat that "is obviously very different" from that inhabited by their cousins in nature, Scalici said.

Rome's crabs have a longer life expectancy at 15 years instead of 10 to 12, he noted.

But for all its success, Potamon fluviatile has kept a low profile in Rome, revealing its existence only a decade ago.

It was in 1997 that Scalici and another zoology student happened on a specimen minding its own business under a stone in Trajan's amphitheatre, part of the largest of Rome's imperial forums, built in 113 at the territorial height of the Roman Empire.

Intrigued, a small group of researchers from the University of Rome III went to work studying the only known colony of freshwater crabs living amid the noise, pollution and humans of a large city.

"We think there are about 1,000 of them, but it's hard to say because we can't mark their shells, given that they shed regularly," Scalici said.

The researchers are considering fitting specimens with microchips under their shells, but they are expensive, he added.

Scalici said the crabs have very few predators, since stray cats -- a frequent sight at Roman ruins -- "aren't interested, and gulls don't come at night because the site is lit up all the time."

As for their diet, the omnivorous crustaceans feed on algae, insect larvae and snails, as well as the occasional cigarette butt and fast-food container, Scalici said.

The amphibious creatures burrow deep to their hideaways, sometimes reaching several metres below the ruins, leaving small mounds of dirt on the surface.

"Of course we are still working with hypotheses -- the genetic study isn't finished -- but it's very tempting to believe that (the crabs were introduced by the ancient Greeks), especially because lots of aspects like the gigantism suggest that the crabs have been here for a really long time," Scalici said.

And after his proteges managed to survive through the millennia, Scalici hopes their age-old tranquility will not be disturbed by work on a new subway line, which is to pass close to the Forum's foundations.
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Old June 17th, 2007, 05:14 AM   #16
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Can't they prevent the buildings from further damage by re-enforcing it like what the greeks are doing to the parthenon.
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Old March 15th, 2008, 04:52 AM   #17
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Archaeologists Unveil Finds in Rome Digs
7 March 2008

ROME (AP) - A sixth-century copper factory, medieval kitchens still stocked with pots and pans, and remains of Renaissance palaces are among the finds unveiled Friday by archaeologists digging up Rome in preparation for a new subway line. Archaeologists have been probing the depths of the Eternal City at 38 digs, many of which are near famous monuments or on key thoroughfares.

Over the last nine months, remains -- including Roman taverns and 16th-century palace foundations -- have turned up at the central Piazza Venezia and near the ancient Forum where works are paving the way for one of the 30 stations of Rome's third subway line.

"The medieval and Renaissance finds that were brought to light in Piazza Venezia are extremely important for their rarity," said archaeologist Mirella Serlorenzi, who is working on the site.

Serlorenzi said that among the most significant discoveries in a ninth-century kitchen were three pots that were used to heat sauce. Only two others had been found previously in Italy.

The copper factory "factory" was used to work on copper alloys, and it consisted of small ovens, traces of which can be seen. Small copper ingots were found and are being analyzed.

The archaeological investigations are needed only for stairwells and air ducts, as the 15 miles of stations and tunnels will be dug at a depth of 80 to 100 feet -- below the level of any past human habitation, experts said.

However, most of the digs still have to reach the earth strata that date back to Roman times, where plenty of surprises may be waiting. That may create problems between planners and conservationists, officials said.

"It is impossible that there will not be situations of conflict. We know that in some cases the conflict will create a removal of ancient ruins," Rome's archaeological superintendent Angelo Bottini told The Associated Press.

Under Italy's strict conservation laws, it will be up to Bottini's office for Rome to decide whether a find will be removed, destroyed or encased within the subway's structures.

Countless public and private works have been scrapped over the years in Rome and across Italy, and it is not uncommon for developers to fail to report a find and plow through ancient treasures.

Rome's 2.8 million inhabitants can rely on just two subway lines, which only skirt the center and leave it clogged with traffic and tourists.

Plans for a third line that would serve the history-rich heart of Rome have been put off for decades amid funding shortages and fears that a wealth of discoveries would halt work.

The $4.6-billion project is due for completion in 2015, but parts of the line are scheduled to open in 2011, with high-tech automatic trains to transport 24,000 passengers per hour.
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New York, London, Prague, Iceland, Rocky Mountains, Angkor Wat, Sri Lanka, Seoul, Myanmar, and much more!
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Old March 15th, 2008, 05:16 AM   #18
LordMandeep
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rome needs to be preserved.

It is easily one of the best sources about our history...
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Old March 15th, 2008, 05:44 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMCA1990 View Post
Can't they prevent the buildings from further damage by re-enforcing it like what the greeks are doing to the parthenon.
We are actually partially rebuilding the Parthenon now. Reinforcement happened a while ago.
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Old March 15th, 2008, 05:53 AM   #20
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nice to see they respect their history...

They should too, they likely make all that money they use to restore buildings back in more tourists dollars.

Many people wish to see Rome in their lives just to see the old Roman sites...
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