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"The vegetation is beautiful but can be a problem for the ruins"

A flock of sheep in Pompeii to fight weeds and protect excavations

A sustainable project in the still unexplored parts of the archaeological site


A flock of sheep is helping archaeologists protect the ruins of Pompeii.

Since excavations began 250 years ago, only two-thirds of the 66 hectares of the city buried under ash by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD have been unearthed. Preserving ancient Pompeii from the erosion of nature and time is a priority for those who manage the site.

As part of a sustainable agriculture initiative, the still unexplored section of Regio V, a large area north of the archaeological site where grassy hills overlook the remains of houses and shops, has been opened to graze 150 sheep to prevent vegetation growth.

"The vegetation is beautiful, but it can also be a problem for the ruins. Whether grass and other plants grow inside or on ancient walls and houses. So we try to have a sustainable approach to the whole environment, also to avoid using substances that prevent plants from growing on walls and ruins," Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park, told Reuters.

The initiative, says Zuchtriegel, on the one hand represents a saving of money in the management of the site and on the other hand can offer the millions of visitors who go to Pompeii every year an idea of what the place was like at the time of its rediscovery: "There were woods, vineyards, sheep, a rural environment and in the middle of this there was Pompeii".

The idea is to attract even more people to the area and revive the ancient vineyards that have a long history in the region.

As for visitors, the director of the Park says that many react positively to the opportunity to see, next to the excavations, this part of landscape tradition that risks disappearing. For the rest, "We try to explain that this is a sustainable project that helps the ruins rather than threatens them."