How can I evaluate the roles and methods of the archaeologists who have worked at Pompeii?
Karl Weber and Francesco La Vega: The first stage of excavation began in 1748, and required relatively simple methods as the first layers of debris were the lightest and least compact. The excavation was primarily directed toward the uncovering of valuable artifacts for private collections (such as that of King Charles III) and museums in Naples. Despite critiques of the irreparable destruction created by stripping wall paintings, this period also saw the uncovering of the Quartiere dei Teatri with the Tempio d'Iside, and the Via delle Tombe with the Villa de Diomede.
French control of Naples (1806 -): In the next phase, a new, more organized methodology was deployed, whereby the buried town was systematically excavated from west to east. These excavations resulted in the uncovering of most of the western part of town, including the Foro, the Terme, the Casa di Pansa, the Casa di Sallustio, and the Casa del Chirurgo.
Guiseppe Fiorelli (1863 -): The next phase is demarcated both by the archaeologist and the new set of methods, whereby in order to uncover houses from the ground up one would now begin uncovering the house from the top down instead of beginning with the streets. This technique allowed for better preservation upon discovery and made restorations of ancient buildings possible. Fiorelli's contributions culminated with a plaster reconstruction of human bodies and plants. His followers - Michele Ruggiero, Giulio De Petra, Ettore Pais, and Antonia Sogliano - continued using his methods to restore the roofs of homes with wood and tiles.
August Mau (1882 -): The next phase, although overlapping temporarily with the followers of Fiorelli, can be characterized by the introduction of new methods. Mau's focus on Pompeian paintings led him to develop a system for categorizing decorative styles that is still used today.
Vittorio Spinazzola (1910 -): The next stage concerned the reconstruction of the facades of houses. Spinazzola carried out his excavation techniques with particular attention to both how the houses had been buried and how they were originally structured. This period saw the uncovering of the Casa di Loreio Tiburtino, the Casa dell'Efebo, the Casa di Trebio Valente, and Via dell'Abbondanza.
Amedeo Maiuri (1924- ): The next set of methods and the archaeologists who deployed them has received the greatest notoriety to date. Although excavating the Via di Nocera (Regio I and II), his methodology was considered so inaccurate, his instruments so inadequate, his project so underfunded, that the houses could not be well enough restored - and thus were effectively abandoned. He is also uncovered the Casa del Mendandro and Villa dei Mister.
Alfonso De Franciscis (1964-): With the new director of excavations, the role of the archaeologists shifted from excavating new sites to restoring already uncovered ones. The only new excavation during this period was the Casa di Polibio.
Fausto Zavi and Guiseppina Cerulli Irelli played an important role in addressing the new problems that were created by the 1980 earthquake.
Baldassare Conticello (1984- ): Conticello is known for his systematic restoration of the Regio I and II, which had already been excavated by Maiuri, as well as excavating the Complesso dei Casti Amanti from scratch.
Pietro Giovanni Guzzo (1994): Guzzo was the director of excavation until 2010. In this period there were management and financial obstacles that stymied continued excavation and restoration.
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