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Project News


By James Packer

I. Current Project Funding

In 2003, Professor Packer received a $35,000.00 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities ($25,000.00 in matching funds). An unexpected illness prevented him from working on the project in 2003, but the NEH held over his grant into 2004, and early in this year, he received a $25,000.00 grant in matching funds from the state of Illinois through Northwestern University. Several private backers have either contributed to the project or promised additional financial assistance, and, to cover the remaining costs of the 2005 excavation season, Prof. Packer has applied for additional grants.   


II. Plan for the 2005 Excavation Season

A. General Approach

During our 2002 campaign, we reopened the stair and corridor leading to the Excavation Area – which had remained sealed and closed for nearly fifty years) and put in a provisional lighting system. We throughly cleaned both areas of refuse and began emptying out the construction rubble dumped in the EA by Ristorante “Da Pancrazio.”

Stairs to Excavation Area   The lower hall leading to the EA   The EA at the end of the 2002 season
Fig.1. Stairs to Excavation Area (EA)   Fig. 2. The lower hall leading to the EA   Fig. 3. The EA at the end of the 2002 season

Plan of the 2002 Excavations
Fig. 4. Plan of the 2002 Excavations

In 2005, we will reopen as an “emergency exit” a closed door leading from the entry stair to one of the dining rooms of the “Da Pancrazio” Restaurant. We will install a narrow conveyer belt to empty the remaining detritus more efficiently and will use a portable air-exchange system to bring fresh air into the EA. Dividing up our work force, we will ask two unskilled work men to continue removing the accumulated rubble, now confined to the sides of the room. Two experienced workmen,

Archaeologist Gagliardo, and I will begin excavation of the south side of the room. That work will eventually expose the greater part of the 12th /13th century south wall and will clear the lateral walls. Thus we will be able to document the construction of the latter (in peperino blocks?), and we may also find remains of the ancient arcades.

B. Work Plan

During excavation of the south end of the EA, we will move the earth carefully to differentiate the various strata and recover fragile materials: bone, carbonized wood, coins, etc. All earth will be sieved and any small objects will be labeled and kept in the corridor adjacent to the excavation area for transport to permanent storage. Small durable finds (marble, terra cotta shards, glass, and other materials) will be washed, labeled, and placed in wooden containers for removal to permanent storage.

As in the 2002 season, Architect Silenzi will record all architectural features with laser transit for computerized downloading. The location points measured with the transit will later be imported into an Autocad 2000 program. Textured wall surfaces will be digitally recorded and reproduced.  Using an ArcView GIS program, we will record the original position of finds in our trenches and will catalogue them using FileMaker Pro 5.5.    

Summarizing these activities in a report written immediately after the end of the second excavation season (June 15, 2004), the Prof. Packer will do his best to make sure it is promptly published in either the American Journal of Archaeology or the Journal of Roman Archaeology. The third and fourth seasons will follow in fall, 2006 and 2007, and annual reports on the progress of the excavation could appear in either the AJA or the JRA.


III. Photographs from 2005 excavation



IIV. Final Publication

Part of a larger study (provisionally called “The Pompey Project,” the final report on this excavation will be published in a monograph with contributions by several scholars. Richard Beacham (King's College London, U.K.) will investigate the Theater's original cultural context and review materials from other contemporary Italian and Sicilian theaters. James Packer (Northwestern University, Emeritus) will survey the archaeology and architecture of the Theater of Pompey. And finally, examining the post-antique history of the monument, Kistin Triff (Trinity College) will show how the ancient zone around the Theater gradually involved into the modern Campo dei Fiori neighborhood. This monograph will include a computerized data base,  general plans of the modern structures built over the Theater, detailed plans and sections of all known (and accessible) ancient remains, digital photographs of all parts of the site (including aerial views), documentary shots of  the extant Pompeian spaces), digital views of existing statuary found on the site, and a collection of all ancient and modern texts on the Theater.

Since the “Pompey Project” should be largely completed by 2008-9, final publication of all phases of the excavation and the larger project might follow shortly thereafter (by 2009 at the latest).