Dangerous Cocktail — snow, freezing pigeons, excited crowds don’t mix

Still cold here in Rome, but the snow will fade soon into the back­ground of everyone’s mem­ory.  So just a fol­low up from the lovely walks around the cen­tro the past 2 week­ends.  For a refresher, check out these images from Feb­ru­ary 3 and Feb­ru­ary 10th (in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Erica Firpo).

Rome reg­u­larly dips down to low tem­per­a­tures, even freez­ing, each win­ter period, but it’s the snow that’s novel-  pic­turesque and pleas­ant to see, how­ever fleet­ing.   I was glad I could go around on my bike to take it all in last weekend.


In antiq­uity, glad­i­a­tors were tough and fought all year round but they weren’t the Green Bay Pack­ers that reg­u­larly appeared on the frozen tun­dra before the crowds. Freak snow­storms were noted when they occurred in ancient Rome, as were the more than occa­sional flood, earth­quake, and fire– all chal­lenges to the sus­tain­abil­ity of the city.

Walk­ing and bik­ing around, I was struck by 2 things regard­ing con­ser­va­tion in Rome, beyond the obser­va­tions made in the press about the pro­longed clo­sure of sites and Nth crum­bled piece falling from the Colos­seum due to the snow.

1. The pigeons roost­ing in the holes of the the fire­wall of the Forum of Augus­tus that faces the Forum Tran­si­to­rium.  I couldn’t believe it.  Talk about a colum­bar­ium! Talk about a 3-alarm her­itage at risk issue, to say noth­ing about the con­di­tion of the tuff fire­wall itself.

Close up details of pigeons roost­ing within the wall! Resolv­able by insert­ing anti-pigeon spikes.

2. Peo­ple ignor­ing the bar­ri­ers all around the Domi­tianic Meta Sudans (famously exca­vated by Prof. Panella of La Sapienza), and parts of the pavil­ion of Nero around the for­mer Neron­ian Stag­num.   I know that every­one was excited, but no rea­son to ignore the bar­ri­ers, people.

Solu­tions? I hope to be able to address the pigeon phe­nom­e­non at the Forum of Augus­tus fire­wall and insignif­i­cant fenc­ing around the Meta Sudans with my MiBAC col­leagues.  Hop­ing to make low cost solu­tions (e.g., inser­tion of small anti-pigeon spikes in the holes) and more notice­able addi­tions to the low fenc­ing presently around the Meta Sudans area) in the near future. Roma Eterna (if we can just take care of it).

Discussion5 Comments Category Archaeology, Conservation, Culture, Rome, Sponsorship Tags , , ,

5 Responses to Dangerous Cocktail — snow, freezing pigeons, excited crowds don’t mix

  1. Wow, I didn’t even notice the pigeons until you pointed them out. What crap!

  2. Reblogged this on Amer­i­can Insti­tute for Roman Cul­ture and com­mented:
    Exe­cel­lent piece by Dar­ius Arya!

  3. Those anti-pigeon spikes work really well. Rus­tle up some grad stu­dents to stick them in the holes. The thought of acidic bird crap on Augus­tus’ wall… yikes!

  4. O, Roma nobilis, orbis ter­rarum mater! Triste est audire murum tofi inter Forum Augusti et Sub­u­ram inter­posi­tum nunc domi­ciliis colum­barum per­fo­ra­tum esse; etiam tris­tius audire via­tores intra saepem Metae Sudanti cir­cum­datam ambu­lare; qui fons, si hodie inte­ger fuis­set, non aquam sed nivem sudavis­set ! Nihilomi­nus intel­lego Sen­a­tum Pop­u­lumque Romanum in animo habere hoc mon­u­men­tum nobile, vetus­tate exi­tioque obru­tum, ad pri­orem glo­riam restituere, ut totus hic vicus Urbis exor­ne­tur. Romani, diem carpite !

    Alexan­der in Caledonia.

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