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Open Access Research article

Evaluation of corrective measures implemented for the preventive conservation of fresco paintings in Ariadne’s house (Pompeii, Italy)

Paloma Merello12, Fernando-Juan García-Diego13* and Manuel Zarzo4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Applied Physics (UD Agriculture Engineering), Universitat Politècnica de València, Camino de Vera s/n, Valencia, 46022, Spain

2 Valencian Institute for Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage, C/ Genaro Lahuerta 25-3°, Valencia, 46010, Spain

3 Center of Physical Technologies, Associated Unit ICMM-CSIC/UPV, Universitat Politècnica de València, Av de los Naranjos s/n, Valencia, 46022, Spain

4 Department of Applied Statistics, Operations Research and Quality, Universitat Politècnica de València, Camino de Vera s/n, Valencia, 46022, Spain

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Chemistry Central Journal 2013, 7:87  doi:10.1186/1752-153X-7-87

Published: 17 May 2013

Abstract

Background

A microclimate monitoring study was conducted in 2008 aimed at assessing the conservation risks affecting the valuable wall paintings decorating Ariadne’s House (Pompeii, Italy). It was found that thermohygrometric conditions were very unfavorable for the conservation of frescoes. As a result, it was decided to implement corrective measures, and the transparent polycarbonate sheets covering three rooms (one of them delimited by four walls and the others composed of three walls) were replaced by opaque roofs. In order to examine the effectiveness of this measure, the same monitoring system comprised by 26 thermohygrometric probes was installed again in summer 2010. Data recorded in 2008 and 2010 were compared.

Results

Microclimate conditions were also monitored in a control room with the same roof in both years. The average temperature in this room was lower in 2010, and it was decided to consider a time frame of 18 summer days with the same mean temperature in both years. In the rooms with three walls, the statistical analysis revealed that the diurnal maximum temperature decreased about 3.5°C due to the roof change, and the minimum temperature increased 0.5°C. As a result, the daily thermohygrometric variations resulted less pronounced in 2010, with a reduction of approximately 4°C, which is favorable for the preservation of mural paintings. In the room with four walls, the daily fluctuations also decreased about 4°C. Based on the results, other alternative actions are discussed aimed at improving the conservation conditions of wall paintings.

Conclusions

The roof change has reduced the most unfavorable thermohygrometric conditions affecting the mural paintings, but additional actions should be adopted for a long term preservation of Pompeian frescoes.

Keywords:
Microclimate monitoring; Pompeii; Archaeological preservation; Temperature and relative humidity sensors