A structure used to train gladiators has recently fallen into rubble at Pompeii. Although this is a source of frustration and embarrassment for the Italian government, the situation begins to depict what is at stake here. Citing a lack of funding as part of the problem, the question expands and asks whose heritage is this?
If we start losing buildings at Pompeii, one of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures of the world, what’s next? Is this a sign of things to come? This immense treasure has had a steep price paid for it already – it came at the cost of one of the worst environmental tragedies with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius back in August of 79 AD – what else can we lose?
We seem to think that these artifacts, although recovered from oblivion, somehow belong to us forever. They, too, have a limited shelf life. This requires us to spend more money and resources on their preservation but also should call into question our current conservation techniques.
It is believed that the collapse of the ludus, the structure damaged at Pompeii which was used by gladiators to train before their matches in the nearby amphitheater, resulted from water erosion and a heavy roof used to repair the structure after it was damaged during World War II. If that is the case, questions will be asked about how updated conservation techniques are and whether or not these structures can afford to be exposed to the outside elements.
These types of questions can only demand a bigger price tag, too. Currently, most renovation and conservation projects are underfunded and generate most of their funding through tourism. Can governments, already strapped for cash, afford to spend more money?