The list of Roman monuments damaged by an earthquake in September is growing, as checking of ancient structures continues.
The list of Roman monuments damaged by an earthquake in September is growing, as checking of ancient structures continues. But the earthquake's effect has also drawn attention to an urgent need for action to protect the historic sites from modern-day pollution and traffic vibration.
SYNOPSIS: The arch of Constantine joins a distinguished casualty list. The earthquake widened the already dangerous cracks and the daily effects of traffic continue to erode the structure.
A favourite summer setting for operas and other stage productions, the Basilica of Maxentius, also suffered damage.
The Roman colosseum still deteriorates despite years of restoration work.
Rome's Superintendent of Antiquities, Professor Adriano La Regina, says that quite apart from natural disasters like earthquakes, the main causes of decay are man-made. He says some monuments cannot be saved.
Traffic caused cracks in the triumphal eighteen-hundred-year-old Marcus Aurelius column. It was fenced off to protect motorists from falling masonry. Professor La Regina urges prompt action to prevent the proud and ancient edifices from crumbling to rubble.
Art authorities are alarmed. Some of them predict the demise of the two-thousand-year-old monuments by the end of year two thousand.
An ancient Roman practice, of taking a census of all monuments and treasures, is to be re-introduced.
Famous city landmarks, the two-thousand-year-old Vespian and Saturn Temples, have lost marble and large pieces of marble and granite.
The statue of Marcus Aurelius, the only equestrian bronze to escape the medieval melting pots, is also corroding, and after restoration, may be replaced by a copy. Cracks have appeared in its foundation.
If Rome's Mayor Guilio Carlo Argan, an art historian, has his way, Rome's historic centre will become a giant archaeological park, closed to all traffic.