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Pompeii’s House of Lovers to reopen 40 years after earthquake damage

A spectacular restoration project at Pompeii means visitors can now visit the famed House of Lovers for the first time in 40 years.

The building is one of the best-known attractions at Pompeii, the ancient city buried in 79 AD after nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted.

It was shut to visitors in 1980 after suffering damage in an earthquake, but has now reopened as part of the Great Pompeii project, which launched in 2014 with the aim of safeguarding the ancient city.

Some €105 million ($114 million) have so far been spent, the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage said in a tweet, and a further €50 million ($54 million) has been allocated to allow work to continue.

“Pompeii is a story of rebirth and redemption, a model for the whole of Europe in the management of community fund,” said Dario Franceschini, Italy’s minister for cultural heritage and activities and tourism, said in a statement.

“A place where research and new archaeological excavations are back thanks to the long and silent work of the many professionals of cultural heritage that have contributed to the extraordinary results that are there for all to see and that are a source of pride for Italy.”

The House of Lovers takes its name from an inscription on the building which reads: “Amantes, ut apes, vitam melitam exigunt (Lovers lead, like bees, a life as sweet as honey).”

Archeologists first excavated the house in 1933, and found its spectacular decorations almost entirely intact.

It will soon reopen to visitors, as will two other domus — the European Ship House and the House of the Orchard.

Massimo Osanna, director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park, said in a statement that the work’s completion showed that Pompeii’s treasures were no longer in “a time for emergencies.”

He added: “We have before us new and important challenges for the protection, knowledge and enhancement of the excavations and the territory.”

Osanna also posted photos of the restoration work on Instagram.

Archeologists are still working to uncover more secrets at Pompeii, where some remarkable discoveries have been made in recent years.

In January researchers released a study which showed how the heat from the 79 AD eruption was so extreme it turned one victim’s skull into a glass-like substance.

Charred wood enabled them to determine that temperatures reached 968 F (520 C) at the site.

The researchers believe that the extreme heat ignited the person’s body fat, vaporized soft tissue and vitrified the fatty proteins of the brain.

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