The incipit of an item from the Telegraph:
The marble pyramid, which dates from 12BC and adds an incongruous touch of ancient Egypt to the Italian capital, is grimy from traffic fumes and festooned with weeds and bushes growing from the cracks between its enormous stone blocks.
The project will include efforts to determine whether, as legend has it, there are secret chambers built into the pyramid.
“A few years ago ultrasonic testing found anomalies within the structure,” Maria Grazia Filetici, a Rome cultural official, told La Repubblica newspaper. “We want to investigate them further with probes.”
The unusual monument was constructed of brick and marble following Rome’s conquest of Egypt, which initiated a fashion for all things Egyptian.
It was a must-see sight during the Grand Tour and inspired Shelley and, a century later, Thomas Hardy.
Yuzo Yagi, the owner of a fashion business, has agreed to donate one million euros for the restoration of the 2,000-year-old monument, which forms part of Rome’s ancient walls and overlooks the Protestant Cemetery, the burial place of Shelley and Keats.
Mr Yagi, from Osaka, has had business connections with Italy for more than 40 years and wants to fund the restoration of the monument as a way of commemorating his links with Rome.
He is due to sign the agreement next month, with work expected to start in April. In return for his donation, he has asked that a plaque inscribed with his name be placed near the monument.
“His dream is to leave a mark in our country. Last year, he visited the pyramid and was struck by how remarkable it was,” said Rita Paris, who manages the monument.
The 118ft-high monument was built as the burial chamber for a Roman magistrate, Gaius Cestius.
The chamber was once frescoed but is now bare and empty, after its contents were plundered in the Middle Ages.
The pyramid was incorporated into the Aurelian Walls, which were built to protect Rome in the 3rd century AD, helping to ensure that it was never damaged or demolished. […]
- via: Japanese tycoon steps in to restore dilapidated treasure in Rome(Telegraph)
More news coverage:
- Japanese investor to restore ancient Roman pyramid (AFP via Yahoo)
- Businessman Yuzo Yagi to restore ancient pyramid in Rome (News.com)
From the Italian press:
- Un milione di euro dal Giappone “Piramide restaurata entro il 2013” (Repubblica)
- Un milione di euro dal Giappone per restaurare la Piramide (Corriere della Sera)
Pyramid of Cestius links:
- Pyramid of Cestius (Livius)
- Pyramid of Cestius (Wikipedia)
- Sepulchrum Caii Cestii (Platner and Ashby via Lacus Curtius)
- Rome at the Pyramid of Cestius Near the Graves of Shelley and Keats (Thomas Hardy’s poem on the monument)
- Rome Reborn (from a guidebook; includes a good transcription of the inscription)
- Immortality in 330 Days (From Bill Thayer’s Gazetteer … a very interesting associated inscription on how long it took to build the thing)