Conservators are using lasers to clean the delicate frescos in one of Pompeii’s most popular sites, the Villa of Mysteries. If successful, it could change the way future conservation projects are carried out there.
The Villa of Mysteries, first excavated in 1909, is named after a large and colourful cycle of frescoes showing young women undergoing an ancient Roman marriage initiation rite. Conservators are using laser technology to restore the colours to their former glory. Pompeii officials released a statement saying this is the first time the technique has been applied to such an important cycle of works a the site and that “it constitutes a viable alternative for preserving surfaces that might be too sensitive for [traditional] mechanical and chemical methods of conservation”. The laser is able to detect and remove the different protective layers that have been applied to the frescos by previous restorers. A spokesman confirmed that the restoration work, which is scheduled to end in October, is going well so far.