Restoring Ancient Stabiae Foundation
The Vesuvian Institute complex houses the Italian headquarters of the Restoring Ancient Stabiae (RAS) Foundation.
The RAS Foundation is a non-profit Italian cultural organisation which was founded in Washington DC in 2002, by the initiative of the University of Maryland, as a cooperative project in the field of cultural heritage, born under the international treaty that links the United States and Italy.
The “Restoring Ancient Stabiae” project aims to build an Archaeological Park of almost sixty hectares on the site of ancient Stabiae (a city buried with Pompeii and Ercolano by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD). Because of the beauty of Stabiae, the richest and most powerful men in the Roman elite chose it to build their luxurious homes; villas of extraordinary proportions and fine decorations. This park and its related excavations will restore in their original context (in a cultural and environmental sense) the grand and luxurious Roman coastal villas located there. These villas were constructed between the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Empire and are, for the most part, still buried.
The US Department of State’s Bureau of Cultural Affairs has followed RAS’s activities for some years, knowing that it represents, in its structure and mission, one of the best examples of international collaboration between American universities and institutions and the world of Italian culture today.
In the pursuit of its goals, The RAS has formed partnerships with the University of Maryland, the Region of Campania, and the Superintendence for Archaeological Resources of Naples and Pompeii.
In 2006 a “sponsorship contract” was signed with the Superintendence, in accordance with the “New Code of Cultural Heritage” (Nuovo Codice dei Beni Culturali), which allows the Foundation to execute, at its own care and expense, all of the excavation, conservation, restoration, development, and management of the Stabiae site necessary for the development of the Archaeological Park.
As part of the promotional activities of the project, the RAS Foundation has organised two touring exhibitions of archaeological finds of the villas of Stabiae: "In Stabiano" and "Otium Ludens", the first having been staged at the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. The aim of RAS exhibitions is to promote the treasures of the Vesuvian territory, and to involve the foreign universities in the project of the development of the park, thereby creating a new tourist flow to the area. In the local area, the RAS Foundation has also concluded a series of agreement protocols with Castellammare di Stabia and the neighboring towns (Torre Annunziata, Boscoreale, Lettere, Gragnano, Santa Maria la Carità, Sant’Antonio Abate) for the development of the archaeological resources of the Vesuvian area for the implementation of a tourist-cultural centre "Beyond Pompeii".
In 2007 the RAS Foundation opened the International Institute for Archaeology and Humanities where research and teaching services – classrooms, library and auditorium – are available. This kind of complex is the only of its kind in Southern Italy. It houses schools, Italian and foreign universities, culture groups and scientists who study the Vesuvian area.
The Foundation bases its activities on the belief that
cultural heritage belongs to the whole world
and sees archaeology as
an opportunity to meet and
exchange experiences with different cultures.