This Article is From Mar 16, 2023

Sheep Helping Archaeologists Preserve Ancient Ruins. Here's How

The historic ruins of Pompeii are being preserved by a herd of grazing sheep.

Sheep Helping Archaeologists Preserve Ancient Ruins. Here's How

Sheep come to the rescue of Pompeii ruins.

Prior to being submerged in ash about 2000 years ago by an eruption of the powerful volcano Vesuvius, the majestic and ancient city of Pompeii was a thriving metropolis.

The ancient ruins of Pompeii have long been a favourite of archaeologists, and now a herd of sheep is aiding in their preservation. To keep the historic Pompeii ruins in good shape, the flock of sheep munches on the grass.

Archaeologists have uncovered only about two-thirds of the 66-hectare (163-acre) site at Pompeii since excavations began 250 years ago.

Preserving the unexplored sections of the ancient city against erosion by nature and time is a priority for those who manage the site.


"If grass and other plants grow in or on the ancient walls and houses, this is a problem. So we try to have a sustainable approach to the whole environment in order also to avoid using substances and then to avoid growing plants and having plants growing on the walls and ruins," said Gabriel Zuchtriegel, the director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The flock of 150 sheep has been deployed to Regio V, a northern section of the city, where grassy hills are dotted with the ruined remains of ancient houses and shops.

Regio V is still off limits to the millions of visitors who come to Pompeii each year, but as part of its conservation efforts, the archaeology park has in recent years launched new excavations at the site.

Among the striking discoveries since 2018 were vibrant frescoes, a snack shop, and the skeletal remains of people killed in the eruption.

Zuchtriegel said the sheep initiative helps to save money and preserve the landscape.

"We try to explain that this is actually a sustainable project and it helps the ruins," he said.

"It's also something that really gives an idea of how Pompeii was at the time when it was rediscovered. It was woods, vineyards, sheep, and this kind of rural environment, and in the midst of that, you had Pompeii."

(With inputs from agencies)