Soprintendenza Speciale Per il Colosseo il Museo Nazionale Romano e l’area Archeologica di Roma (IT)

The Soprintendenza Speciale per il Colosseo, il Museo Nazionale Romano e l’Area archeologica di Roma (The Special Superintendence for the Colosseum, National Roman Museum and Archaeological Area of Rome) is an organisational structure of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (MiBACT) and has the institutional objective to preserve and promote the archaeological heritage of the City of Rome. It manages a wide number of archaeological sites and museums, among them the Colosseum, the Roman Forum-Palatine Hill, Ancient Ostia, Caracalla’s Baths, and the National Roman Musem, with more than 6,5 million visitors per year. The National Roman Museum has several branches in different locations throughout the city of Rome: i.e. Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi and the Baths of Diocletian. This latter is the most imposing thermal complex ever built in Rome (originally spanned more than 13 hectares and able to host 3000 persons). During the XVI century, the archaeological area of the Baths of Diocletian has been transformed into a charterhouse and since the 1889, date of its institution, is the original location of the National Roman Museum.

The Baths and the Charterhouse (where one of the STORM trial will be implemented) are currently undergoing a restoration process that has thus far permitted the reopening of a part of the monumental complex and of the two sections of such a composite museum, the Section of Proto-history of the Latin Peoples and the Epigraphic Section, this latter pertaining to Written Communication in the Roman World. The Museums has a wide series of storerooms which currently contain about 250.000 archaeological finds of the most various types (sculpture, architectural elements, paintings, archaic, roman and medieval pottery, inscriptions, brick-stamps, etc.), most of them never exhibited to the public till today. The storerooms are daily enriched with the finds from new excavations in the Roman area, and may probably be considered among the biggest archaeological collections in Europe.

The archaeological site of the Baths of Diocletian includes an area of about 57.000 square meters, which hosts huge Roman buildings, still partly preserved up to the vaults (some of them more than 35 meters high), structures pertaining to the XVI century Carthusian monastery, and later (XVIII and XIX century) buildings, mainly connected with the Museum, and a vast areas of gardens.

The main conservation problems are connected with the static of the ancient buildings, above all of the huge roman vaults: the Baths are located in the centre of Rome and are surrounded by heavy car and bus traffic; moreover, the Rome area, though not among the most risky of Italy, is classified as a seismic area. The roman brickwork is also threatened by air pollution, as well as by heavy rains, winds and thunderstorms, which are becoming more and more frequent in the area: the latter are also a menace for the surrounding gardens, where tall timber trees have already fallen on the Museum buildings. The presence of the gardens also increases the risk of fires, especially in case of thunderstorms.

Floods also threaten the site, which, due to the remarkable raising of the planking level in the last three centuries, happens to be on its north side, the one adjoining the modern Via Cernaia, more than 5 meters below the street level.

These risks do not affect only the buildings themselves, but also the objects which they contain: the archaeological monuments are in fact seat of a Museum, which displays marble sculptures and pottery, but also bronzes, paintings and mosaics, as well as hosting important exhibitions of modern and contemporary art (sculpture, paintings, photographs). Moreover, the ancient baths host huge storerooms containing more than 300.000 roman artefacts of all kinds, which could be heavily affected in case of a structural damage of the buildings.

Role in the Project

The Special Superintendence is in charge of curating, preserving and making accessible one of the most important cultural heritage of the world, including the Colosseum the National Roman Museum and the Archaeological Area of Rome. In order to perform effectively and efficiently its roles, the Special Superintendence has organised, in collaboration with national and international research institutes, a group of experts and researchers qualified in risk management, surveying and diagnosis, restoration and conservation; therefore, the site has been chosen to be one of the major pilot-sites of STORM project.
SSCOL will lead WP9 Experiments, validation and assessment of results.
SSCOL will set up the Italian trial.