News / Science & Technology

    Satellites, Sensors to Halt Crumbling of Italy's Pompeii

    A restorer works in the ancient Roman city Pompeii, which was buried in AD 79 by an eruption of the Vesuvius volcano, Feb. 6, 2013.
    A restorer works in the ancient Roman city Pompeii, which was buried in AD 79 by an eruption of the Vesuvius volcano, Feb. 6, 2013.
    Reuters
    The ruins of ancient Pompeii will be monitored by satellites and sensors under an agreement with Italian defense and technology group Finmeccanica to try to stop the UNESCO world heritage site from crumbling.

    The state-controlled group will help train staff and donate its technology for free for three years in an investment worth up to two million euros ($2.75 million), after which the equipment will be left to the restoration project.

    Regular collapses of walls and houses in the treasured Roman town that was covered by ash in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD have caused an international outcry and increased pressure for an end to delays dogging a 105-million-euro restoration project part-funded by the European Union and launched last year.

    Finmeccanica will train staff to use high-tech monitoring tools that should flag shifts in terrain in the 1,500 buildings of Pompeii, so that archaeologists can quickly intervene to prevent collapses.

    Soil movements, a major risk to the ruins especially during bad weather, will be monitored through high-resolution images captured by the COSMO-SkyMed group of satellites, controlled by the Italian Space Agency, Finmeccanica said.

    Technicians will build up a digital archive of the most important sites in Pompeii through hyperspectral imaging, which can capture the composition of different materials by measuring their electromagnetic radiation.

    Site security will be able to access the information through a smartphone app, and vandalism or damage to the ruins will set off alarms.

    Private Sponsors

    The partnership with Finmeccanica is the latest of several examples in which private companies have stepped in to fund restorations of Italy's fabled cultural heritage to make up for a dearth of public funds.

    Luxury shoemaker Tod's is helping to restore the Colosseum, jeweller Bulgari the Spanish Steps, and fashion house Fendi the Trevi Fountain - all in Rome.

    "I invite other private groups to come forward and not use the excuse that there are too many bureaucratic hurdles [to sponsorship]," Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said on Thursday. "We are here, there are no more alibis."

    Italy's most popular tourist attraction after the Colosseum and Palatine Hill, which
    FILE- A damaged statue is seen in the Thermae Stabianae in Pompeii, Italy, March 8, 2012.FILE- A damaged statue is seen in the Thermae Stabianae in Pompeii, Italy, March 8, 2012.
    x
    FILE- A damaged statue is seen in the Thermae Stabianae in Pompeii, Italy, March 8, 2012.
    FILE- A damaged statue is seen in the Thermae Stabianae in Pompeii, Italy, March 8, 2012.
    attracted 2.5 million visitors in 2013, Pompeii was preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius almost 2,000 years ago and was rediscovered in the 18th century, but has become a symbol of decades of mismanagement of Italy's heritage.

    Three walls and an arch supporting a temple crumbled last month. Faulty restoration work, especially following the Second World War, combined with weather, pollution, weed growth and visiting crowds, caused the city to decay, Finmeccanica said.

    So far, 40 million euros of the 105 million euros available for the Great Pompeii Project have been allocated.

    The restoration hit delays amid disagreement over who should be named to lead the works, and on Thursday Franceschini said that the project's deputy director, Fabrizio Magani, would be replaced. He had been named to the post in December.

    ($1 = 0.7263 Euros)

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora