The Concept of Pompeii’s Preservationist Societies and Herculaneum

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Pompeii and Herculaneum have stood the tests of time since the 16th century and have dealt with many obstacles such as erosion, messy excavation, and in recent times, the ever increasing threats experienced from tourism. Pompeii faces the issues from tourism remarkably as it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy. Numbers close to 3 million are the amount of visitors that this heritage site receives a year while Herculaneum gets around 300,000. From that statistic, it’s evident that Pompeii would be affected by tourism a considerable amount more. 

There is no doubt of tourism having a negative impact on the site but on the other hand, the income gathered from tourists generates more money that can be put back into conservation. Tourism has the potential to increase the economic development of the surrounding area but handling costs of protecting heritage sites, investment in visitor facilities, and the presence of visitors can actually be harmful to sites. As seen in Source K, massive numbers of tourists roam the streets of Pompeii all at once which sometimes unfortunately causes unintentional damage. 

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The wearing down of streets and roads is a huge issue made by tourists unbeknownst to the harm they create. More accidental damages that tourists can potentially control are the conscious decision to not touch anything that they shouldn’t be, otherwise reducing the deterioration of walls, or not bringing backpacks into enclosed spaces which would usually brush up against walls too. Fading frescoes are another issue that tourism contributes to as sightseer’s camera flashes go off so often. Intentional damage is yet another factor of tourism having an extremely negative effect on Pompeii. 

These damages can come in the form of graffiti, littering, stealing and just more physical destruction to the sites. Source L states that “In 1997, someone hacked 14 frescoes out of the House of the Gladiators...”, this statement just expresses the fact that intentional damage has in fact occurred. The concept that past discrepancies occurred means that Pompeii’s preservationist societies must have found ways of in theory eradicating and reducing the chances of these horrible things happening. Tourism particularly impacts the more visited areas like the Pompeiian Forum complex. 

Another concern caused by tourism is the theft of artefacts and any items that are taken offsite end up finding their way to the illegal antique market. Often these acts of stealing also cause accidental destruction to surrounding objects, and the stolen relics are no longer in their original place and lose their context and cultural relations. This is a problem for the cultural presence that lives within the remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum. 

Since there are a lot of cons of tourism in this case, it can be said that tourism does more bad than good for the case of Pompeii specifically, but more attempts of conservation can always be undertaken. Previous examples of these being higher security to decrease theft, administering tourist entry into certain areas plus the site itself and reconstruction of various locations and frescoes. As a result, the more tourists understand the reasons and significance of protected areas, and implement suitable behaviour, the more likely they are to value the site and behave in ways that reduce the damage.   

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