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Rome's fragile ruins in great danger
Latest Updated by 2006-07-04 08:41:00
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Rome's ancient sites today face an array of perils old and new and need the urgent attention of teams of monument "doctors," according to an AP report.

The hazards, such as weeds with stone-splitting roots, traffic belching pollution, tourists trampling, earthquakes and terrorism, pose great threat to the Eternal City's monuments, from the imposing stone bulk of the Colosseum to the romantic ruins of imperial luxury atop the Palatine Hill.

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.

According to Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli, a former Rome mayor, the national budget can't keep up with the pace of archaeology in a city where "every day there's a discovery."

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.

Croci 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."

Editor: Wing

By: Source: China View website
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