Grass in Pompeii will be sheared by sheep

(ORDO NEWS) — In a city destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius, a herd of hungry herbivores is used to maintain order.

To the north of the Pompeii archaeological park there is a site that has not yet been excavated, and, according to Italian archaeologists, there is nothing particularly interesting there – there were ancient vineyards in that direction.

But it is necessary to maintain the area in an attractive form for tourists. The problem was solved in a way that sends us back to the beginning of the Middle Ages. Cattle were called in to help.

A flock of 150 sheep arrived in Pompeii and immediately set to work. “They came to the site with great enthusiasm,” said Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park.

“Maintenance is a huge cost, so instead of paying someone to cut the grass, we get the sheep to eat it, fertilize it, and create a pastoral landscape that is much more resilient to dry seasons and heavy rains.”

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New employees of the archaeological park

Not to say that this method of mowing lawns is something new. Similar technologies have been tried in Germany and France as an environmentally friendly way to reduce energy consumption and costs. True, the media did not report on the results of innovations.

The area that the new lawnmowers will serve does not belong directly to the city limits of Pompeii. The city was founded in the 7th-6th centuries BC as the center of the wine region. Good location (mountain slopes and wind direction) contributed to the cultivation of the desired grape varieties.

When Pompeii was buried under the ash from the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, even the surviving winemakers left the surrounding fields: the land was unsuitable for agricultural activities.

But time passed, and if no one was going to clear and restore the city itself, then already in the 4th century AD, new houses appeared around its ruins.

The Roman Empire was then in a very precarious state. On the one hand, the method of distributing land to veterans of the legions, introduced by Caesar, stopped working: it was easier to live in Rome, where they distributed bread and did not have to work.

On the other hand, the new legionnaires, most of whom were not born citizens of Rome, wanted to gain a foothold on the lands of the empire. And the area near Naples attracted them much more than put on the northern borders of the empire.

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The ruins of the temple of Jupiter against the backdrop of Vesuvius

Yesterday’s barbarians didn’t give a damn about the superstitions associated with the lost city. As a result, by the time of the fall of Rome (476 AD), vineyards again appeared around Pompeii. But not for long.

Here we talked in detail about the Dark Ages of Western Europe. They did not pass the surroundings of Pompeii either.

The barbarian kings who seized the lands of the great empire did not want to settle in cities, preferring villas – the centers of large agricultural complexes. The reasons for this are pretty obvious.

A city is a complex organism with an infrastructure that must be kept in order. It is necessary to monitor the condition of pavements, the serviceability of water supply and sewerage.

All this requires specialists and money. With the first, the barbarians were very bad, with the second – better, but here the greed of their leaders (or thriftiness) already came into play: they did not understand why they should spend money on cities if they could live in villas.

As a result, goats and sheep grazed in the squares of Rome and Lutetia. That is, the height of the grass (albeit not on the lawns, but on the squares) was regulated approximately the way it is now in Pompeii.

At the beginning of the Dark Ages, there were no luxurious villas around Pompeii: the former legionnaires had been developing these lands for less than a hundred years, managed to set up vineyards, but had not yet earned a lot of money. Therefore, the area was abandoned and remained so for centuries.

In the 19th century, the situation changed: archeology became fashionable, and Pompeii, the excavations of which began at the end of the 16th century, attracted tourists.

In the 1860s, archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli excavated vineyards in the city under a three-meter layer of ash.

The townspeople grew grapes in the local area and made wine from it, which was in demand throughout the Mediterranean.

Farmers reacted to this discovery. The lands around Pompeii began to be developed, planted with vineyards. People made money on the so-called Pompeian wine.

By the middle of the last century, wine production began to decline, but now the management of the archaeological park plans to take matters into their own hands: they hope to clear and fertilize the land on the site of ancient vineyards with the help of sheep, which will allow them to increase the production of Pompeian wine.


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