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Wednesday, 5 January, 2000, 10:13 GMT
Monuments bear brunt of Roman revelry

Trajan's column in Rome The blackened area suggests a fire-cracker hit Trajan's column


Damage to some of Rome's magnificent ancient artefacts and neoclassical statues caused by millennium merrymakers is beginning to come to light.

As the rubbish of some 1.5 million revellers is carted away, city officials have discovered an ancient column near the imperial forums and a couple of neoclassical statues in the capital's largest square have been vandalised.


Trajan's Column The monument was painstakingly restored in the 1980s

They fear that even more damage could come to light after the clear-up operation is completed.

Officials suspect revellers smashed bottles against Trajan's Column - a masterpiece of sculpture in honour of the emperor who ruled from AD 98 to 117.

Fire cracker

As a result, some of the bas relief work decorating the first 23 rings of design chiselled onto the 40-metre-high column has chipped off.

On one frieze, the head of a relief-figure is blackened and broken, suggested it was hit by a New Year's Eve fire cracker.

The monument, which has 2,500 small figurines in relief and details the various phases of Emperor Trajan's Dacien campaign, had been painstakingly restored in the 1980s.

In Piazza del Popolo, the square that hosted Rome's biggest public gathering at the dawn of the new century, vandals defaced two neoclassical statues.

Rome's City Hall said on Tuesday it will take extraordinary measures to protect public artworks, monuments and archaeological sites during special public events.

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31 Dec 99 |  World
Europe embraces millennium fever

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