Friday, March 19, 2010

Antiquities not just another brick in wall

Our parents had taken us to Pompeii, the Roman town frozen in the moment it was buried in lava on August 24, 79AD. It was 34 years ago, on a bright winter's day, and we wandered the streets, peering in shops and tiny houses, and envisaged life before Vesuvius struck.

Visitor access was almost unfettered: few guards, no security cameras. We were respectful, even as young teenagers, but we spied an American tourist who was not. I have never forgotten watching transfixed as he used his pocket knife to prise a handful of tiny, coloured tiles from the wall and trouser them, a souvenir of one of the world's most wondrous archaeological sites.

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