Post by Eric Poehler
An Open Pompeii, for me, has been a dream since 1998, since the first time I ever thought about the archaeology of the ancient city. That dream is recalled almost every day: each time I need to find an obscure book, make a map, access an archive, or visit a building on the site. The dream became a calling in 2007 when I discovered that a colleague and I had each, unaware of the other, been spending hundreds of hours digitizing the landscape of Pompeii to run our analyses. How much better might those hundreds of hours been spent in the context of our research? How much more might we understand? That experience was the origin of Pompeii Bibliography and Mapping Project and the beginning of a recognition for me that we are losing information and losing opportunity by failing to cooperate and failing to organize. I was therefore elated to learn of OpenPompei and the SCRIPTORIVM (and its impressive video announcement), not only because it represented a step towards wider collaboration, but also because it came from within the Italian community. I’d long wished for a like-minded Italian community, and now it seems that wish is coming true. Thus, it seems appropriate to share a few other wishes for Pompeii. What follows is a ‘wish list’ of projects that I’ve been interested to see started, pushed forward, and in some cases to be finished.
“Spatializing the city”: Attaching data to places and architectures.
The important explosions of research on Pompeii over the last 250 years on Pompeii have, in one way, been exactly that: intense fragmentations of a unified urban environment into categories of study (archaeology, art history, classics, epigraphy, history, etc….), the instruments of scholarly communication (articles, lithographs, manuscripts, and now 3D models), and in many cases literal separation from the city (into museums, private collections, and the pockets of visitors). It is time to bring the data back home. There are innumerable opportunities to put the representations of frescoes, mosaics, inscriptions, and objects back into their natural spatial environments and we are fortunate to have at our disposal remarkable works of aggregation to accomplish this: Pompei. Pitture e Mosaici, Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, Nova Bibliotheca Pompeiana, Studio sulle provenienze degli oggetti rinvenuti negli scavi borbonici del Regno di Napoli, Pompeii in Pictures, Fortuna Visiva, among others. Yet we seem to find ourselves in the paradox to stand at once on the shoulders of giants and in their shadows. We have thus far been unable or unwilling to take on both the genius and the failings of these scholars and projects in order to do something more. Happily, this is beginning to change.