Headline April 12, 2018/ '' 'ITALY'S POMPEII INTERNS' ''


ITALY'S Pompeii offers new glimpse of life before calamity.........

CHARCOAL INSCRIPTION : PERHAPS one of the most significant finds was the least spectacular at first sight - a brief charcoal inscription -

Which cites the date Oct 17 written in the hallway of a grand house where at least six bodies were  discovered.

The improved access has helped lift tourist numbers, with some 3.5 million people coming to  Pompeii last year -

An increase of one million in just a decade. Even more visitors are expected as the latest finds are gradually unveiled to the public.

Among the highlights are a fresco of the Greek mythological figure Narcissus leaning languidly on a  block of stone and staring down at his own reflection in a pool of water.

In the same house, archaeologists found a small, exquisite wall painting portraying the seduction of the Spartan queen Leda by the Greek God Zeus, disguised as a swan.

NEARLY 2000 years after Pompeii was destroyed by a volcanic eruption, the ancient Roman city is still giving up its long-buried secrets.

Fantastic frescos, preserved mosaics and obscene grafffiti are just some of the discoveries emerging from the largest archaeological dig at the site since the 1950s.

As teams of construction workers shore up mounds of earth pressing down on the excavated areas to prevent them crushing the ruins, archaeologists and conservationists are busy restoring newly discovered art and bolstering fragile walls.

The burst of activity marks the final stages of the ''Great Pompeii Project'', launched in 2012 after a spate of cave-ins, with the European Union and Italian state handing over 105 million euros [$118 million] to halt the decay.

''The risk of collapse, of serious damage is past. Now Pompeii is quite safe,'' said Francesco Muscolino, 42, an archaeologist working on the programme.

And Musolino predicted it would take many years for scholars to assimilate and interpret the material recovered in recent months, with trays of delicate glass, fresco fragments, plaster mouldings, coins and amphora stored away for future research.

The extensive conservation work has enabled scholars to uncover a few more areas of Pompeii still buried under volcanic debris, including two large houses, alley-ways, highly decorated interiors and a brightly coloured snack bar.

Pompeii was submerged by volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius exploded in AD 79, killing thousands of Romans who had no idea they were living beneath one of Europe's biggest volcanoes.

Memory of the catastrophe faded over time and it was not until 1740 that any meaningful exploration was undertaken. More systematic excavations were launched the following century, but by the end of the 20th-century, neglect, lack of funds and repeated flooding were taking a heavy toll.

In 2010, less than 15% of the excavated was accessible to tourists, wild dogs roamed the paved streets, and only 10 buildings were open, against 64 in 1956.

Today around 70 percent of the uncovered city is accessible and more than 30 fully restored buildings can be visited.

More than 270 years after the first serious excavations began, a third of the city, which covers roughly 165 acres [66.77  hectares] remains buried and unexplored.

But there are no plans for further, major digs  after this latest project ends, with the emphasis now on conservation.

''Excavations are like having children. You have to take care of them. You just can't abandon what you find and move on to the next thing,'' said conservationist Giudice. ''It is a real responsibility.''

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