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Archaeology's Interactive Dig
July 2001-August 2003InteractiveDig Pompeii

Getting the EcoFacts Straight: Liz Papworth (University of Bradford), Amy Dapling (University of Bradford) and Jennifer Wehby (University of Georgia) recover fish scales, pollen, and other animal and vegetal traces from soil samples.

All They're Cracked Up to Be: Diane Fortenberry and Martin Goalen of Academy Projects examine VI,1 in the early stages of the preservation project.

Photos courtesy of the AAPP unless otherwise noted. Click on images to enlarge.

Modern Science & Future-Oriented Archaeology

Excavation is, by definition, destructive. Once we cut through the stratigraphic sequence, it is gone forever. Therefore, the AAPP practices today's most meticulous techniques of excavation and documentation. This research will help provide the scholarly community a broader understanding of Pompeian society and history. Publication of our discoveries is only one step in the process of restoring the once-buried history of VI,1. These records will be used by future generations of archaeologists, who in turn, will challenge our story of the site and our methodology.

Preservation: The Final Step & Only Hope

Traditionally, archaeologists have finished their projects and returned to their homes, their labs, and their studies. Publications appear in libraries, but new ideas are slow to reach the tourists wandering the ancient city. Back on site, Pompeii's workshops and bars, houses and brothels face continuing decay. The story of VI,1, however, is too compelling to be forgotten, and its fabric too important to be left to disintegrate.

The Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei (the Italian authorities responsible for the monument) make great efforts to preserve the ancient city and to improve visitors' understanding and enjoyment, but it is a massive task. There is always more to do. We are now trying to make our own contribution. We are setting up The Pompeii Trust as a charity in the United Kingdom to raise funds to promote research and understanding of Pompeii and support its conservation.

We are working closely with the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei and Academy Projects (a London-based architectural and archaeological partnership specializing in conservation and presentation of archaeological and historical sites), to develop a plan for the future of VI,1.

Already two centuries of exposure to Mediterranean sun, bombs, earthquakes, and tourists have ravaged the ancient city. The watercolors, engravings, and journals of the eighteenth-century tourists give us our only sense of how spectacular our insula must have been when first buried and when first cleared. Our excavations span almost a decade and our work will continue into another, providing us with an unparalleled body of knowledge about our urban community. Already at this stage, we have begun to share the tale of VI,1. Trench-side discussions with interested visitors expand their Pompeian experience from mere tourism to archaeological adventure. Archaeology.org allows us to bring the news of our season and the history of our insula to you.

Yet we can do more.

In the successive years, excavated rooms will be passed on to conservators as the excavators move into unexplored spaces. Upon completion of research and preservation, this area, now the reserve of the specialists will be restored to the visiting public. They will be guided through the dynamic history of the insula's inns, bars, houses, and workshops. A life once lived by slaves and patricians will once again be experienced by tomorrow's wayfarer along the Via Consulare.

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© 2004 Archaeological Institute of America

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