Amphitheatres around the Mediterranean
Syracusa, Italy, 13 - 17 October 2004
The aim of the conference was to formulate a Charter for Amphitheatres.
The program consisted of lectures for a day and a half and discussions for another day and a half. The last day was reserved for site visits.
The program was intensive with 23 short lectures the first day and four plus round table discussions as well as workshop discussions the next. The program lasted until eight in the evenings.
The third day the workshop discussions continued and ended in a conclusion.
The workshop activities were four optional;
1. Shared criteria strategies and tools for the observation, interpretation and knowledge of the standards of the decay process and the risk elements of the territorial context.
2. Common criteria for monitoring, conservation and restoration.
3. Criteria and evaluation tools for setting up of sustainable standards of theatrical activities in order to guarantee the conservation and the comprehension of the archeological structure and its environmental context.
4. Criteria for a local growth focused on the use of ancient theatres and on the establishment of territorial cultural networks.
Tina Wik participated in the second workshop. The discussions became quickly an Italian matter between colleagues. This was much criticized. There were however presentations of interesting subjects.
One of them was about vegetation, how to keep these open air monuments clean from vegetation, how to document the kind of plants, how they damage the monument and how the plants should be removed without causing harm. Manual and chemical options was discussed. Further interesting botanical topic was raised describing the lists of plants around the monuments where a discovery was made where one plant did not exist anywhere in Italy but on this particular monument. So this plant became a part of the monument and had to be considered in the cleaning process. This was one example in the discussion about the workers, caretakers, of the monuments demanding them to be specially trained for the job.
This also concerns everybody in the process and the importance of better maintenance documentation was stressed. It is not enough to know what has been done to the monument but also how much and exactly where. Information and documentation of this is often inadequate. Systems for improving information as a maintenance program must be drawn up.
Another interesting subject discussed was about landscaping around these kind of monuments. These monuments are exposed to the weather, they are deteriorating and the maintenance cost money.
First, gaining money for the maintenance can be through giving the monument to a public function. Many amphitheatres are still in use, and in its original use! There are no other ancient monuments like this! What was concluded here was that this usage should not be according to modern demands of scenery, lighting and load speakers nor for a huge amount of spectators. Some amphitheatres receive many thousand spectators per performance. This cause great difficulties with cleaning, chewing gums are for instance one problem, but also the increased deterioration of the monument itself. Even if modern additions, such as seats or stairs, are placed above the monument there are difficulties with the points for foundation. They might vibrate or require attachments that cause destruction.
The exposure to the sun is another problem that was discussed. Protective roofs had proven to be a good solution if they foundation for the structure did not harm the monument. But this solution destroyed the visual context!
Could landscaping be of use? The question was raised. Interesting examples of maintaining the monument by planning parks was shown. There are often long distances to pass to reach the monument. This length can be made to a park designed in a suitable way. The example given was a park as a natural landscape which protects the monument, makes the maintenance cheaper and the access route much more beautiful.
The question of reconstructions was discussed. This was much opposed by architects but proposed by other professionals such as economists etc. The conclusion was to be restrictive with reconstructions.
The result of the conference will be a charter that later on will be applied to other monuments than amphitheatres because same problems are valid in many more cases!