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Friday, December 5, 1997 Published at 15:07 GMT


Modern life threatens Pompeii
image: [ The Roman glory of Pompeii is at risk of being lost forever ]
The Roman glory of Pompeii is at risk of being lost forever

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii, preserved in volcanic ash 2,000 years ago, is suffering from decay.

Archaeologists say it is being ruined by vandalism, pollution and neglect.

The Italian authorities are trying to stop the rot but they say they do not have enough money to do it well.

[ image: Columns decaying at alarming rate]
Columns decaying at alarming rate
Archaeologists warn that Pompeii, which is decaying at an accelerating pace, has been underfunded for so long that its treasures are now in great danger of being lost forever.

Every year two million tourists trek through the fragile ruins of Pompeii. The city was buried by a volcanic eruption in AD 79.

The hordes of tourists and 50 years of mismanagement and neglect have taken its toll on the site which provides one of the best windows on everyday life in ancient Rome.

Experts say that only international aid can now save the city and are relying on the help of the United Nation's Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

[ image: Two million tourists plough through Pompeii every year]
Two million tourists plough through Pompeii every year
The Unesco has drawn up a list of endangered world sites which includes Pompeii as a priority.

The Director of Unesco's World Heritage Centre, Berd Von Droste, said: "Pompeii is a major archaeological site and was a must to put on the World Heritage List."

He said that excavations at Pompeii, begun some 250 years ago, had often been imperfectly conserved and the site had been plagued by a lack of resources.

He added: "I can only hope there will now be a worldwide partnership which helps to bring forward the conservation of values for which Pompeii was put on the list."

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UNESCO's Heritage Centre

UNESCO's World Heritage List

Intech: Rediscovering Pompeii

University of Virginia Pompeii Forum Project

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