Digitisation of northern Thai manuscripts (Thailand)

Thanks to the digitisation of northern Thai manuscripts as part of the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, valuable historical documents have been preserved and made available to the public via the internet.

 

The cultural and literary traditions of northern Thailand have made an essential contribution to the development of related cultures throughout the region. However, northern Thailand’s rich manuscript collections have remained severely under-researched due to a lack of accessibility. The database of northern Thai literature is therefore an important milestone in efforts to preserve Thailand’s cultural heritage. The texts, which span more than 500 years, address cultural and local traditions, astrology, mythology, legal interpretations, social relations and everyday life; they are not only part of the country’s cultural heritage, but also strengthen the Thai people’s cultural identity.

The Federal Foreign Office already between 1987 and 1992 supported the creation of a microfilm record of northern Thai manuscripts. This microfilm collection was later digitised with funds from the Cultural Preservation Programme. Since March 2016 it is publicly available on the internet, free of charge. In 2017, selected manuscripts from 22 temples in Lamphun, Lampang, Phayao and Chiang Rai were directly digitised, thereby completing the online collection.

The manuscripts are being digitised in northern Thailand by a photographer and a handwriting expert. Their work is supported by local volunteers and supervised by the project leader and the technical coordinator. All work is performed directly at each temple, in coordination with the local abbot. Once the digitisation is completed, each manuscript is carefully wrapped in its piece of cloth and returned to where it was originally stored.

Historic palm leaf manuscripts at Wat Pa Sak Noi Temple in Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand | © David Wharton
 

Just prior to being photographed, each manuscript is cleaned and examined. Some leaves are wiped with high-grade alcohol to make them more easily readable. The project staff and local monks involved in the project are offered training to show them how to properly clean and arrange the individual palm leaves.

A digital single-lens reflex camera is highly portable and takes high-quality photos that can be archived and viewed on the internet. The photos are later added to the Digital Library of Northern Thai Manuscripts, along with the respective inventory data in English and Thai.

To round out the manuscript website, photos are uploaded of temples, libraries, manuscript boxes, scribes and the direct digitisation process.

 

Image: A manuscript at Wat Pa Sak Noi Temple | © 2015 David Wharton, Digital Library of Northern Thai Manuscripts

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office

 

 

 

 

 

Conservation work on the temples at Bagan (Myanmar)

Thanks to the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, the temples of Bagan, an important cultural heritage site and tourist attraction, are being preserved, both as important testimony to the culture of Myanmar and for the benefit of future generations. In August 2016, a severe earthquake damaged a number of the temples in the former royal city of Bagan. Funding provided by the Cultural Preservation Programme is enabling the reconstruction and conservation of the ancient temples.

During a preparatory trip in May 2017, the two German conservation experts Prof. Hans Leisen and Dr Esther von Plehwe Leisen, along with the German conservator restorer Andrea Teufel and in coordination with the Myanmar Department of Archaeology (DoA), determined which two temples the restoration work would focus on.
The damage has meanwhile been examined and analysed. Conservator restorers are being trained at both temples, and conservation work is underway. All measures are closely coordinated with the Department of Archaeology and carried out in cooperation with the Myanmar conservation team.

The Nanpaya sandstone temple is where stone conservation training is conducted by the Department of Archaeology, as well as where sample conservation work based on scientific research is done to protect against weather damage. In addition to preserving valuable decorations, the cultural preservation project gives DoA staff the opportunity to independently plan and properly carry out conservation work. Now that the samples taken in 2017 have been examined, and the required conservation material, tools and equipment procured, an initial on site campaign is being launched in 2018.

In addition to developing a conservation strategy, the project focuses on conducting conservation workshops with DoA staff on natural stone, documentation and investigation techniques, as well as the properties and production of conservation products.

 

Until now, no scientific strategy had been developed to ensure long‑term conservation and restoration of the murals. This project aims to do just that | © Andrea Teufel.
 

Like many other temples at Bagan, the interior walls of Narathihapatae Hpaya Temple (formerly Tayok Pye) are covered with ancient murals. Bagan is a unique cultural heritage site in terms of the concentration, number and quality of its ancient murals, which are between 400 and 900 years old. Although some have been lost, a great number have survived. Because there has been damage due to previous faulty renovation, better and more systematic conservation and restoration work is urgently needed.

To develop a scientific, long term and non damaging method for conserving the murals, samples were taken in 2017. The original materials and techniques were analysed, and different cleaning and conservation methods were tested on the samples and the results evaluated. In 2018, the conservation methods developed through these tests are being reconfirmed and further developed on site in Bagan, and sample areas are being prepared for the conservation and restoration effort. A key aim of the project is to provide basic and further training to the Myanmar staff in Bagan.

The Federal Foreign Office’s on site conservation and training programmes in Bagan promote scientific cooperation with Myanmar. By providing basic and further training to the Myanmar conservation team, the transfer of know how and sustainability is ensured.

 

Read more: The Golden Letter (Myanmar)

 

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office

 

 

Image: Narathihapatae Hpaya Temple (formerly Tayok Pye) is one of some 400 sacred buildings in Bagan with extant murals. © Andrea Teufel

Temple restoration in the imperial city of Hué (Viet Nam)

Works of art and edifices testify to Viet Nam’s culture reaching back for centuries. They convey past lifestyles to today’s generations in an impressive way – to the Vietnamese population and to tourists from around the world alike. But works of art have a tough time in Viet Nam. The humid and warm climate, past military conflicts and maintenance work neglected and postponed over many decades have taken their toll on these unique buildings.

The German Embassy in Hanoi has therefore been working intensively for many years in close cooperation with Vietnamese experts and organisations within the framework of the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office to restore buildings and cultural sites in the long term. Extensive restoration work on the gateway and the spirit screen of the Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc in Hué and the community hall in Tran Dang are examples of Germany’s cultural policy in Viet Nam. Thanks to the cooperation between German restoration experts and Vietnamese cultural sponsors, important steps have been taken towards preserving this cultural heritage. Moreover, further measures have been launched in recent years that are supported by funds from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office that have promising prospects for the future.

 

Temple Restauration Vietnam
External façade of the south gate (© A.Teufel/GEKE)

 

Conservation and restoration in line with UNESCO standards

The conservation and restoration of the portal, screen and basin of the Phung Tien Temple began in August 2017 with an accompanying training programme. The almost 200 year old construction is one of the most valuable examples of original preserved architecture from the early period of construction of the imperial city designed in accordance with Feng Shui rules. In contrast to the temple on the site, which was destroyed in 1947, it has withstood the test of time. Traditional building materials and technologies as well as modern conservation materials and methods are being drawn on. A special emphasis is placed on the development and application of an authentic restoration method for frescos and buildings featuring coloured plastering. The project with an accompanying training programme is being implemented with employees from local restoration companies and the Hué Monuments Conservation Centre, as well as freelance artisans.

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office 

The Red Hall in Bergama.

The Red Hall in Bergama (Turkey)

Bergama is a small town in Turkey, 80 kilometres north of Izmir. Its archaeological fame derives above all from an altar, the remains of which are displayed in a Berlin museum that even bears the town's ancient Greek name: Pergamon. Not quite so famous as the altar is the enormous temple dedicated to multiple deities and situated in the heart of Bergama; together with a forecourt it covers an area almost as large as that of Trajan's Forum in Rome. The towering structure threw much else into the shade and inside it were sculptures on the same colossal scale. Figures eight metres high and wearing bulky headdresses held up the stoa roofs, creating the right atmosphere for worship of the gods and practice of the probably imperial cult – for the temple was Roman, dates from the 2nd century AD and the involvement of the Emperor Hadrian in its erection is very likely. The support figures were inspired by images of Egyptian deities and it is suspect that they found their way to Pergamon through the well-known trip of the emperor  to the Nile and his following travel through Asia Minor. The building project radically changed the urban landscape; even the river Selinus was channelled through two tunnels, and today the ancient ruin is still a dominant feature of modern Bergama, which accordingly can boast one of the most significant Roman monuments in all Asia Minor. The main temple building is known as the "Red Hall" after the red bricks from which it is made.

The round tower.
The round tower.

Unlike the ruins of the Hellenistic citadel, the Red Hall was absorbed into the modern town. It therefore never became covered by earth, but was reused for various purposes over a period of more than 1500 years. This repurposing necessarily left its mark. The southernmost of the two round towers, for instance, once accommodated an olive processing factory, among other things, and was particularly at risk. Rainwater entered the building through the original Roman dome, while archaeological finds weighing several tons were stored on a fragile, vault-borne floor which had already collapsed at several points. In 2006, the Istanbul Department of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) launched a long-term project – directed by Felix Pirson and Martin Bachmann and supported by the Studiosus Foundation e.V. –  to restore the tower and to consolidate and re-cover the original Roman dome construction. In 2008, with funding from the Foreign Office's cultural heritage preservation programme, a durable lead covering was laid on the dome to protect the ancient fabric for the coming decades.

Roofers at work.
Roofers at work.

Once this part of the project was finished, visitors could be admitted for the first time to the impressive interior of the rotunda. The opening ceremony took place in September 2009. In the same year another project began in one of the side courtyards of the Red Hall – likewise with the assistance of the Studiosus Foundation. Here, one of the support figures which formerly lined the courtyard in place of columns and fragments of which are now exhibited inside the rotunda was reconstructed in its original height and using some of the original pieces. The Egyptian deity Sekhmet was re-erected in Bergama on 26 September 2013.

The combination of research and preservation as practised by the DAI produces lasting and sustainable results and has created milestones in the preservation and presentation of archaeological monuments in Turkey. Modern urban and social contexts are playing an increasingly important role in this. The Red Hall was chosen as a core project because it fulfils a key function in the new tourism development plan for Pergamon.

The support figures were inspired by images of Egyptian deities.
The support figures were inspired by images of Egyptian deities.

In future, the old town of Bergama with its many monuments of Ottoman and multiethnically influenced architecture will be integrated to a larger extent in the sightseeing programme. Visitors will thus be able to experience 4000 years of settlement and urban history in the eastern Aegean in and around a modern Turkish town. The new presentation plan for the town of Bergama spans the epochs and encompasses the surrounding area. That was central to Bergama's addition to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2014. The past, present and future of the town are consequently woven together in this DAI project in a way that benefits not only archaeological research but also the town itself.

Project: Prof. Dr. Felix Pirson, director of the Istanbul Department of the DAI and director of the Pergamon Excavation.

Promoted by: Foreign Office's cultural heritage preservation programme, Studiosus Foundation e.V., Ernst Reuter Initiative, Culture Foundation of German-Turkish Business

Cooperation partners: German Archaeological Institute (direction and implementation), Institute of Building History, Building Archaeology and Conservation at the TU München (structural documentation), Ulrich Mania – Kiel University (conceptual planning), Josef Steiner – Construction Engineering Group, Karlsruhe (support structure planning), Adnan Elidenk, Bergama (steel construction), Christof Kronewirth, Berlin (stonemasonry), Semih Uçar, Istanbul (lead roofing)

Source: Archaeology Worldwide, the magazine of the German Archaeological Institute

The Great Temple of Yeha.

The Great Temple of Yeha (Ethiopia)

About 3000 years ago in the province of Tigray in what is today Ethiopia, an entity named Di’amat emerged which was the result of immigration by population groups from Saba in modern-day Yemen. In the early 1st millennium BC, these groups together with the indigenous population established a network of settlements dotted along the trade routes. The Sabaeans brought a range of cultural techniques and expertise – their language and writing system, practical knowledge in agriculture, architecture, arts and crafts, as well as their religious, political and social institutions.

Yeha was the administrative and religious centre of this society. If one approached the settlement from the trade routes, the ancient palace and at least two religious buildings would have been visible from a long way off. One of the temples preserved to a height of 14 metres  was built around the middle of the 7th century BC and dedicated to the main god of the Sabaeans, Almaqah. In the 6th century of the Christian era the building was converted into a church and is today still a sacred place.

Restoration work.
Restoration work. (Photo: Wagner)

Iris Gerlach, Director of the Sana’a Branch of the DAI’s Orient Department, and her colleagues have been working together with the Ethiopian Antiquities Authority since 2009 on a project to preserve the substance of this unique building. First of all they produced exact and detailed structural documentation and a damage assessment map. In the process traditional methods were supplemented by the most modern technologies including 3D laser scanning. The structural documentation served as the basis for the thorough restoration that followed as the next step. Restoration was essential as the structure was at acute risk of collapsing. The Great Temple was already in a partly ruinous state when the famed German Aksum Expedition visited Yeha in 1906. A  disastrous fire had badly damaged the temple probably in the middle of the 1st millennium BC. The fire completely destroyed the entrance porch, originally supported - by six pillars, as well as the temple’s upper storey and its inner wall shell. This was the part of the building that needed urgent restoration and the installation of a steel supporting structure. In cooperation with the Ethiopian Antiquities Authority and the DAI 's own advisory committee on historical monuments, the DAI sought to identify solutions through discussion, so as firstly to provide static stability of the frail temple walls and secondly to ensure the restoration measures were acceptable from both a conservation and an aesthetic point of view. A workshop was organized in Adua, to which specialists from the Ethiopian Antiquities  Authority and the Ministry of Culture, architects and statics experts from various Ethiopian universities were invited, who discussed different possibilities of stabilizing the Great Temple with construction history specialists and monument conservators.

The village of Yeha in northern Ethiopia.
The village of Yeha in northern Ethiopia. (Photo: Mechelke)

It was important to involve the priesthood and the local population in Yeha. As the building is still considered a sacred place, every step in the restoration process had to be explained and permission for it had to be sought. All the institutions and individuals involved in the process were finally able to agree on a reversible plan that complied with good conservation practice and was also acceptable in aesthetic terms. The plan envisaged the installation of a high-grade steel structure to support the interior walls upwards of a height of six metres, allowing the Great Temple to be continuously used in the future by worshippers, pilgrims and tourists. Since it is a principle of the DAI to work in a sustainable manner, the project included training for local craftspeople.

Archaeological and historical research into the region around the religious centre of Yeha has been ongoing since 2009, and since 2016 as part of a twelve-year Ethiopian-German project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The project is being carried out jointly by the DAI and Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena and augments the DAI ’s research into cultural contacts that existed between southern Arabia and eastern Africa.

Project: Iris Gerlach, Director of the Sana’a Branch of the DAI’s Orient Department

Cooperation Partners:

Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

Chair of Semitic Philology and Islamic Studies

(Prof. Norbert Nebes)

Authority of Research and Conservation of

the Cultural Heritage (ARCCH)

Tigray Culture and Tourism Bureau (TCTB)

HafenCity Universität Hamburg – Universität

für Baukunst und Metropolenentwicklung,

Geomatics Laboratory

University of Leipzig,

Egyptian Museum – Georg Steindorf

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-

Nürnberg, GeoZentrum Nordbayern, Palaeoenvironmental

Department

TU Berlin, Construction History Research Unit,

Master's Degree in Heritage Conservation and many others.

Source: Archaeology Worldwide, the magazine of the German Archaeological Institute

 

Chapel of Hathor (right) and Lion temple (left).

Chapel of Hathor in Naga (Sudan)

The desert expanses of the Sudan still hide countless historical treasures which are only gradually coming to light. The city of Naga was an important place in ancient times, but was forgotten over the millennia. Only now are scientists finding out how much it has to tell us.

In 1995 a team of researchers from the Egyptian Museum Berlin began to excavate the site of the city of Naga in the steppes northeast of Khartoum. The city had lain untouched for two thousand years. Numerous huge heaps of rubble marked the area. Four wellpreserved temples decorated with reliefs and inscriptions showed that, from 300 BC to 200 AD, Naga was a royal city of the Meroitic Kingdom, the powerful southern neighbour of Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt.

Restauration work at the chapel of Hathor.
Restauration work at the chapel of Hathor.

Over ten years of excavations, the Amun Temple was uncovered on its dominant position on a hill above the city. An avenue of twelve monumental ram statues lining the approach to the temple and the columns of the hypostyle discovered under rubble and winddriven sands were restored. Many of the findings in the temple – statues, steles, altars painted and decorated with reliefs, wall paintings – present an extraordinary wealth of new material for research.

A hill south of Amun Temple proved to be a veritable treasuretrove. More than 1500 relief blocks found there could be pieced together to recreate the pictures on the collapsed temple walls. Since October 2009 three wall panels with life-size depictions of Meroitic gods have been on permanent loan from the Republic of the Sudan to the New Museum in Berlin – a remarkable token of cultural cooperation.

The Naga project will end for the time being with the restoration of the Chapel of Hathor with funding from the Federal Foreign Office’s Cultural Preservation Programme. The combination of Pharaonic, Graeco-Roman and Meroitic forms is a reflection of the Meroitic Kingdom’s function as a bridge between Africa and the Mediterranean. State-of-the-art technology was used in the restoration. 3D strip light scanners produced a survey of the architecture accurate to the millimetre. On the basis of these findings, the badly damaged capitals were copied in synthetic stone. The originals are to be exhibited along with other artefacts in a local museum devoted to the excavations; the museum has been designed free of charge by the British architect David Chipperfield. In this way Naga can again become a focal point of the Sudan’s historical and cultural identity.

Project: Prof. Dr. Dietrich Wildung, Project Director, egyptian museum and Papyrus Collection, Berlin

Promoted by:  Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

 

Restoration work on the figure of Vishnu.

Angkor Wat (Cambodia)

In south-east Asia, amidst the jungles of Cambodia, lie some of the most impressive cultural sites in the world. The temple complex Angkor, which has been in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1992, captivates visitors with its majestic dimensions and wide variety of art forms.

From the 9th till the 14th century, Cambodia was the heart of high Khmer culture. The largest and most important temple in the area is Angkor Wat. Its surfaces are decorated with unique stone sculptures, including almost 1850 divinities (known locally as „apsaras“), bas-reliefs up to 100m long in the galleries and richly-decorated tympanums which look as though they have been carved from wood. These latter, however, are in a worrying condition; many have already fallen victim to the weather.

Restoration work at prasat kravan temple.
Restoration work at prasat kravan temple. © Leisen/TH Köln

Since 1995 a team from Cologne University of Applied Sciences has been working to prevent further decay. The restoration and conservation measures are being carried out by lecturers and students from the Institute of Restoration and Conservation Science in cooperation with a team of Cambodian conservators. The project also receives support from external scientists in the fields of geology, geomicrobiology and chemistry.

Every natural stone has its own characteristic properties; each one reacts differently to the effects of the weather. Since 1995, therefore, the sandstone blocks used to build Angkor and the damage already caused have been the subject of detailed investigation so that decisions can be taken on the most suitable conservation methods. Every situation, every temple, is considered individually, and all steps in the process must be documented in detail.

A thorough survey revealed that about 300 apsaras and a large number of reliefs on the pediments of Angkor Wat were so badly damaged that large pieces of stone could fall off at any time. Since 1998 the weather-beaten reliefs have been undergoing painstaking conservation. However, it will not be possible to prevent further damage completely. Continual monitoring and maintenance will be needed.

Documentation and conservation of life-size elephants.
Documentation and conservation of life-size elephants. © Leisen/TH Köln

The German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) began in 2003 with an examination of further temples in Angkor Park, including the early brick temples with their amazing stucco decorations. On the basis of the findings, conservation measures were successfully carried out. In 2006 work extended also to Koh Ker temple, north-east of Angkor. In 2008 work began on the derelict remains of Preah Khan Kampong Svay.

If the work is to be successful, the workers must undergo constant training. As part of the project, the GACP trained the Cambodian conservators. Students from Cologne University of Applied Sciences and other universities can help with project work during their practical semester or help with dissertations. Playing a part in a major scientific research project on a UNESCO World Heritage site is a unique opportunity for the students.

Project: Prof. Dr. Hans Leisen, Project Director, Cologne University of Applied Sciences

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

The team at work.

Saving The Murals of Vat Sisaket in Vientiane (Laos)

Between 1818 and 1824, King Anouvong had a monastic complex built in Vientiane which has weathered all that history has thrown at it. The oldest construction in the city, it is now a national memorial and museum housing the largest and most significant collection of 15th to 19th-century Buddhist sculpture and what are probably the oldest murals in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

Only a few years after the monastic complex was completed, two Siamese invasions left the city of Vientiane almost razed to the ground. Vat Sisaket alone was spared. King Anouvong had attacked Siam in a bid to secure the independence of his kingdom. He and his family were publicly put to death in Bangkok, and the people of Vientiane were deported to Bangkok and neighbouring Siamese regions for forced labour. It was not until the French colonisation of Laos, from 1893 onwards, that the city began to recover. Vat Sisaket, still home to monks while Vientiane had lain deserted around it for nearly 70 years, was restored for the first time in 1896. More restoration work was to follow.

Interior of the temple in March 2015 following initial restoration (on the right).
Interior of the temple in March 2015 following initial restoration (on the right). © Andrea Teufel/GEKE e.V.

 

In the sim, the temple and heart of the complex, 400m2 of murals from five different periods can be seen today. They depict adventures from the life of Prince Pookkharabat as told in the Balasankhya Jataka, alongside decorative floral compositions. Created between 1820 and 1960, they are a unique testament to the changing style of Lao Buddhist mural painting. Today, their condition is characterised by earlier structural damage, rising damp and salt deposits in the walls, crumbling plaster, peeling layers of paint and stubborn accumulations of dirt.

There used to be murals in the cloister which surrounds the temple, but they have been almost completely destroyed. Produced in part using unsuitable materials and protected only by a roof, they proved unable to withstand the tropical climate over time.

Work to comprehensively restore the buildings began in 2011. Something urgently needed to be done, but the expertise required for the extremely complicated conservation and restoration of the temple and cloister murals was unavailable in Laos; this prompted Germany’s Federal Foreign Office to release cultural heritage funds for the project. Not only can the murals now be preserved, but Lao artists have an opportunity for further training too. Extensive assessments were carried out and a conservation and restoration plan drawn up in cooperation with the Heritage Department of the Lao Culture Ministry. An international team started putting that plan into practice in 2014. A sample in the cloister shows what the original painted decoration was like. In the temple itself, the many visitors can already marvel at the first results of the mural restoration.

Project: Andrea Teufel, Project Manager

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Borobudur - A Detail of a Relief

Borobudur – A World Cultural Heritage Site at Risk (Central Java, Indonesia)

On 26 October 2010, Mount Merapi, one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, became active again. It erupted on 5 November, causing extensive damage. Borobudur, which has been a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site since 1991, was completely covered by a layer of volcanic ash. Cleaning work was undertaken immediately, and also received funding from Germany. However, the question subsequently arose of how harmful the volcanic ash was for the precious reliefs. In order to answer this and other questions, the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office has been funding a UNESCO stone conservation research project since 2011, which is being carried out in cooperation with the Borobudur Conservation Office (BCO) and the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture.

Borobudur Temple was built under the Sailendra dynasty during the eighth and ninth centuries. Its design and stone reliefs make it one of the most impressive World Heritage sites. Six square terraces with 1460 reliefs depicting scenes from Buddhist mythology, niches with countless sculptures of the seated Buddha, a further 72 statues of the Buddha in bell-shaped stupas on circular terraces, and the main temple at the top of the monument were built in the fertile Kedu Plain, the Garden of Java. The foundation, a natural hill formed by aggradation, already proved to be unstable at the beginning of construction work. The volcanic building stones andesite and basalt were not extracted from quarries, but rather from the rivers.

The first large-scale restoration project was carried out between 1907 and 1911 and coordinated by Theodore van Erp. The walls were at risk of collapsing, and water was shooting out of the relief walls. During the restoration, the walls were stabilised and the drainage system was improved. The next major restoration phase took place between 1973 and 1983. This UNESCO project was run by Caesar Voute from the Netherlands. All of the relief walls and galleries were dismantled and rebuilt (anastylosis), while stabilising concrete platforms and an internal drainage system were integrated into the monument.

The complex internal drainage system created new problems. The magnificent reliefs remain exposed to destructive moisture penetration and frequent leaks. Another threat to the reliefs is posed by ongoing crust formation and flaking on the stones, as well as by salts that damage the structure. The great range of features in the building stones mean that the degree of damage varies among the reliefs.

Apart from providing scientific documentation and analysis of the weathering process, experts are developing a wide range of methods and materials to conserve the reliefs. As part of the cooperation, the BCO’s researchers and restorers are receiving further training in modern analysis and conservation techniques.

Project: Prof. Hans Leisen and Dr. Esther von Plehwe-Leisen, Project managers, Cologne University of Applied Sciences

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office