The largest of the Egyptian pharaohs’ temples, the sun temple of Heliopolis, lies at the heart of pulsating everyday life in the megacity Cairo. Its survival is under threat from informal construction, rising groundwater levels and emerging rubbish dumps. The open-air museum devoted to the archaeological site Heliopolis with its temples, houses and graves, the result of an initiative by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, is something of an island in the middle of Matariya district. With funding from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, a protective roof is to be erected over the museum so that the most recently found, environmentally sensitive treasures of Ancient Egyptian art can be presented to the local population and visitors.
The Hague, 21 May 2019 – The project “Stewards of Cultural Heritage” was announced by the European Commission and Europa Nostra as one of the winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2019. The awards are Europe’s most prestigious honour in the field, funded by the Creative Europe programme.
Largely unnoticed by the world’s public the war in Yemen endangers the life of people and their cultural heritage. Together with her team the archaeologist Dr. Iris Gerlach is working on a digital heritage information system for this crisis region, the Ancient Yemen Digital Atlas (AYDA). The project is funded by the cultural preservation programme of the German Federal Foreign Office. Dr. Iris Gerlach, the director of the Sana’a Office of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) hopes that this digital project will contribute to the protection of Yemen’s cultural heritage. In the interview she explains the way in which the scientists implement the project.
Since four years building researchers and experimental archaeologists of the German Archaeological Institute train Syrian refugees and Jordanian experts in cultural work and the mediation of antique cultural techniques.
In October 2018 archaeologists undertook conservation work at the Eanna Ziggurat in Uruk (Iraq), funded by the Cultural Preservation Program of the Federal Foreign Office.
3D reconstruction is an important tool for archaeologists to visualise lost Cultural Heritage. The German Archaeological Institute and the team of Artefacts visualised the more than 5000 year old Stone-Cone-Building of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Uruk.
On July 1 the World Heritage Committee in Bahrain added the Stone Age site of Göbekli Tepe to the World Heritage List.
Göbekli Tepe is one of the most impressive Stone Age sites in the world. On June 24 the World Heritage Committee will decide if the site is going to be included in the World Heritage List. Find out more about recent developements at Göbekli Tepe!
A photo exhibition opened in Bergama, presenting photos from the Pergamon excavation and giving insight into the valuable cultural heritage of the city.
The exhibition “Ne Yerde ne gökte – Neither in heaven nor on earth. The inhabitants of Bergama and their cultural heritage: Actors of a complex past “ was opened in Bergama on May 4 in the cultural center of Bergama. The four-week exhibition was conceived by the Istanbul Department of the DAI and was developed in cooperation with the Municipality of Bergama and other local institutions.
The phrase “neither in heaven nor on earth” goes back to the geographer Katip Celebi, who described the coexistence of antiquity and the present in Bergama during the 17th century. The photo exhibition draws from the extensive collection of the Pergamon excavation. It shows how the lives of the inhabitants of the modern city of Bergama are intertwined in many ways with its history. The photos demonstrate in an impressive way how ancient, medieval and modern living environments are connected to each other.
The exhibition was opened in the presence of the mayor Mehmet Gönenç, chairman of the Cultural Foundation Bergamas, Muammer Esen, the representative of the German Consul General in Izmir, Elke Grabarec, and the longtime photographer of the Pergamon excavation, Elisabeth Steiner. In his opening speech, Mehmet Gönenç mentioned the importance of the work of the German Archaeological Institute and the Pergamon exhibition for the inhabitants of Bergamas. In light of the exhibition, he emphasized that the DAI photo archive in Istanbul is important not only for the documentation of historical buildings, but also for social coexistence in Bergama. In her welcoming remarks, Elke Grabarec said that the exhibition’s aim to promote awareness of Bergama’s cultural heritage reflects a key requirement of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 . The title “Sharing Heritage” points to the high potential of our shared cultural heritage for identification, participation and development.
The exhibition is part of the DAI presentation Entangled History in the course of the European Cultural Heritage Year 2018.
Further information and events can be found here.
The exhibition “Pergamon Wiederbelebt! ” is shown from April 21 – July 15 2018 in Leipzig and presents 3D reconstructions of the ancient city of Pergamon. The official opening takes place on April 19 at 7 pm.
The focus of the exhibition in the Antikenmuseum der Universität Leipzig is on a new virtual 3D reconstruction of the antique city of Pergamon. The reconstruction was developed by the Chair of Design, Building Theory and Interior Design at the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg in cooperation with the German Archaeological Institute (DAI). The exhibition presents a modern, vivid image of antique city spaces to the visitors. At the same time, the displays invite the observer to reflect on his own urban environment. The city of Pergamon is located on the west coast of Turkey. As the center of the Hellenistic dynasty of the Attalids and as a Roman metropolis, Pergamon was one of the most prominent urban centers of the ancient world. Since 130 years archaeologists, led by the DAI, have investigated the urban structures of Pergamon as well as the necropolis and the surrounding area of the city.
Different reconstructions, going back to the beginning of the excavations in Pergamon, are at display, resurrecting the ruins of the ancient city. The reconstructions help to gain a better understanding for antique architecture and its relationship to manmade living spaces and natural areas. At the beginning of the visit a film installation of the new 3D visualization of Pergamon illustrates the urban environment. A virtual tour leading to the Acropolis visualizes the urban organism of the city. The exhibition then focusses on central urban areas, where people used to live and work. The show also presents the archaeological research and scientific documents on which the reconstructions are based.
In conclusion, the exhibition aims to promote different media of visualization of ancient architecture. In addition to older drawings of single buildings, a print of the 360 ° panorama of the artist and architect Yadegar Asisi is shown. Reconstructions are not only important as a tool for visualization and as an instrument to collect further knowledge, but they also serve as a digital preservation of valuable cultural heritage.
When: 21. April – 15. Juli 2018, opened tuesday thursday, saturday and sunday (12-5 pm).
Where: Aula der Alten Nikolaischule, Nikolaikirchhof 2, 04109 Leipzig.
Entry fee: 3 euro, 1.50 euro (reduced)
Considering the massive destruction of cultural heritage in the Middle East, as well as the refugee movements, the Gerda Henkel Foundation set up a “temporary funding priority for endangered and fled scientists from crisis areas” in autumn 2015. In spring of 2016, an “emergency aid program for Syria” was added. Aim of the initiatives: to give scientists the opportunity to continue their research and to initiate archaeological and historical projects in Syria and neighboring countries, involving local actors.
One of the first funding measures was the support of the “Mare Nostrum” project – a network of several independent subprojects in Jordan. The country has received a large number of Syrian and Palestinian refugees living in huge camps as well as in cities and towns. The archaeologist Prof. Dr. Thomas Maria Weber-Karyotakis (German Jordanian University, Amman) developed the project and took over the coordination. The idea behind “Mare Nostrum” was to involve Jordanian and Syrian scientists, craftsmen and workers from the Palestinian and Syrian refugee camps, Jordanian and Syrian students from the Amman universities and the local population alike.
In the northern municipality of Umm al-Jimal, a cultural center for Syrian and Jordanian children and teenager was established in close cooperation with the local women’s cooperative. The aim of the three-month courses for about 20 girls and boys was to teach the participants and their parents, cultural and historical traditions as well as the importance of the cultural heritage. The courses were given jointly by a Jordanian and a Syrian scientist in Arabic.
Source: Gerda Henkell Stiftung (Press release)
Image: Children and teenager of the cultural center holding their certificates (© Thomas M. Weber-Karyotakis)
The German Archaeological Institute project presented here is supported by the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office. It helps to preserve architecture in Uruk, facilitates the protection of outstanding monuments and improves tourism infrastructure.
Parts of the highly diverse and outstanding cultural heritage in Iraq have been destroyed as a result of war and political instability. The archaeological site of Uruk is one of the most important ruined cities in Iraq in terms of cultural history.
As far as is currently known, the ancient Near Eastern city was the birthplace of major developments in the history of humankind around 4500 B.C. In 2016, Uruk and other sites in southern Iraq were inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List as “The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities”. The German Archaeological Institute has led excavations in Uruk since 1954 and also carries out conservation measures.
The German Archaeological Institute project presented here is supported by the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office. It helps to preserve architecture in Uruk, facilitates the protection of outstanding monuments and improves tourism infrastructure. The aim is to establish local structures to preserve archaeological sites in line with UNESCO standards and to guide the process involving the key excavation site in order to strengthen cultural identity among the population.
Young Iraqi academics and the local population are specifically included in the planning and preservation, so that they will be able to carry out the work that will repeatedly be needed to conserve archaeological architecture in the future.
The focus is on drawing up a detailed conservation plan for endangered archaeological buildings that will become increasingly important tourist destinations in the future. These buildings are made of brick, mud brick, rammed clay, chalk stone and cast stone. Some of them are in good condition and can be shown to the public.
In such cases, conservation work is particularly important as regards halting decay in parts of the building that have already been excavated. Conservation concepts adapted to the buildings’ location in the site are often needed.
In these cases, a decision must be made on whether it is better to present the original structure or to develop alternative concepts (such as a 3D presentation). Conservation projects involving archaeological monumental architecture and its subsequent preservation create apprenticeships and jobs in the cultural sector and are also a prerequisite for further planning in the tourism sector, which could develop into a significant source of revenue for the region.
This cultural preservation project fosters collaboration between German and Iraqi experts and the inclusion of young Iraqi archaeologists. It is linked to the work of the Archaeological Heritage Network (ArcHerNet) and the further training course, Iraqi-German Expert Forum on Cultural Heritage, as part of the German Archaeological Institute project, Stunde Null – A Future for the Time after the Crisis.
Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office
The “White Temple” of Uruk dates into the 4th mill. BCE and was visualized on behalf of the German Archaeological Institute by Artefacts Berlin.
A Uruk/Warka, situated in modern-day Iraq, is one of the first cities in the world and was populated almost without interruption for over 5,000 years. In the western area of the city centre a multiple-phased terrace was discovered, the so-called “Anu Ziggurat”. The terrace was extended and raised over time at least ten times until it reached a height of about 12 m.
This last construction level featured a polygonal shape, due to its many reconfigurations, sloped outer walls as well as a complicated staircase. The surface area of the terrace measured about 45 x 50 m. The remains of an elaborated middle-hall-building, the so-called “White Temple”, were found on top of the terrace. The building had white plastered walls, which were divided by niches, multiple postaments, maybe shelves in an adjacent room as well as multiple staircases, which led to the roof or to a second storey. The erection of the building was radiocarbon-dated between 3517 and 3358 BCE.
In the process of the reconstruction the team of Artefacts Berlin decided for two alternatives: a one-storey and a two-storey version. The reconstructions are based on the excavation results, but also on a small temple model made from stone that was found in a corner of the “White Temple” during the excavation. The proportions and wall decorations of the reconstruction were adopted from this model which had nearly the same ground plan as the actual building.
Source: Artefacts Berlin
Image: General view on the “White Temple” | © artefacts-berlin
The historic dome spanning the charsuq has been restored under the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office in a project with RWTH Aachen University, the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam and the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation.
The dome at the bazaar crossroads rises above an octagonal floor plan and was last re plastered in the mid twentieth century. It has a circumference of 12 metres. Four shopping aisles intersect below the dome, with each entrance to an aisle forming a pointed arch. A niche with a shop is located between each of the entry points. The bazaar is one of the largest in the region and supplies Tehran’s huge population with domestic and imported products. Apart from restoring the dome, the aim of the project was to provide training and exchange views and experiences on methodology with the Iranian partners from ICCTHO.
Following a workshop based on the damage documented by the Iranian side, German and Iranian experts joined forces to plan and carry out the analysis, restoration methodology and necessary measures. The restoration of the tambours, stucco and pointed arches of the intersecting bazaar aisles has now been completed. The handover took place in February 2018.
Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office
Image: Experts from Germany and Iran carried out the restoration work.
Photography is one of the most important documentation tools in archeology. Photos of objects help capture the condition of an object during the excavation as well as before and after restoration work. They are used for publishing or for digital reconstruction. Today, photos of objects can also be used as templates for 3D models. And photography can be used as an advertising medium or for research, without jeopardizing the original. But to present an archaeological object both scientifically usable and aesthetically pleasing requires some knowledge.
The DAI Cairo regularly organises training courses for Egyptian colleagues to familiarize them with the latest methods and techniques. Between the 28th of January and the 8th of February 15 archaeologists of the Ministry of Antiquities had the opportunity to participate in a photo workshop, given by photographer Andreas Paasch. Paasch lived in Egypt for 10 years and took photographs on a variety of excavations and in museums, partly on behalf of the DAI. Due to his vast knowledge of the difficult working conditions on excavations the participants are well prepared for the task at hand. The work shop offers not only hands-on-experiences necessary for the job, but due to its profound introduction, valuable insight into object photography.
We thank Mr. Paasch for his efforts and the Federal Foreign Office for providing special funds for this workshop.
Source: German Archaeological Institute
The Citadel in the Iranian city of Bam is of inestimable historical value. It is now being earthquake-proofed in line with the latest scientific standards.
It was a disaster on so many levels, including for archaeologists: In 2003, an earthquake that reached 6.5 on the Richter Scale almost completely destroyed the historic Citadel in the Iranian city of Bam. It is considered the largest clay building complex in the world. To underscore its significance, in 2004 UNESCO declared the 2,500-year-old Citadel with its Old Town a World Cultural Heritage site. Now, thanks to the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office one of the Citadel’s central buildings has been reconstructed: Sistani House. This is a typical Iranian residence for a merchant family dating from the 18th century. Technische Universität Dresden and the Iranian heritage protection authority ICHHTO teamed up on the project to preserve and reconstruct the building to make it earthquake resistant.
Cultural preservation worldwide
In addition to technical knowhow, in several annual campaigns between 2007 and 2014 the project partners exchanged knowledge about methodological and planning approaches. Following extensive studies and practical experiments their work was able to benefit from the latest scientific findings and appropriate technologies. Firstly, what was left of the building was reinforced with fibreglass rods. Subsequently the workmen reconstructed the rooms using specially developed clay bricks reinforced with date palm fibres and wrapped fibreglass mesh around the vaulted ceilings and transverse arches.
The project will be handed over to ICHHTO on 3 March 2018 during an official ceremony attended by the German Ambassador in Iran, Michael Klor-Berchtold, and the project manager Wolfram Jäger.
The Federal Republic of Germany has been supporting the preservation of cultural heritage all over the world since 1981 in the context of the Cultural Preservation Programme. With its global commitment to the protection and maintenance of significant cultural heritage, Germany renders an important contribution to the preservation of cultural identities, promotes knowledge transfer and intercultural dialogue, and contributes to scientific exchange.
Source: How Germany ticks
Image: View of the Citadel of Bam (© Wiki Commons CC-BY-SA-4.0)
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.
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.
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.
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)
As the stars ascend over the West Bank, the neon light goes down in the open-air cinema’s projection house. The projector flickers into life and the rotating beam hits the screen. The moment everyone has been waiting for has come: 23 long years since the last screening, films are showing once more in Jenin. Cinema Jenin’s renaissance was made possible by funds from the Federal Foreign Office and numerous other foreign sponsors. On the ground Palestinian and international volunteers, supported by local experts and business people, worked together for nearly two years on the reconstruction of the only cinema in the north of the West Bank.
It was not always easy to get this kind of project off the ground in Jenin. There are still many people here who reject any form of “normalization” in the form of cultural and partner projects. The mistrust of the Israeli authorities sits too deep in the local population.
However the number of those prepared to make peace on a one-to-one level is growing. This is also thanks to Cinema Jenin and the team of international and Palestinian workers.
The history of the cinema is closely connected with the history of the Middle East conflict. The cinema had to close in 1987 during the first Intifada. In the years that followed, the building, with its broadly international style, fell more and more into disrepair.
In 2008 the German film-maker Marcus Vetter came to Jenin to tell the story of Palestinian Ismael Khatib. Khatib’s son was shot by the Israeli army in the former refugee camp of Jenin. His father decided to offer up his organs for donation – including to Israeli children. The case attracted a great deal of international attention. In April 2010 Vetter’s documentary “The Heart of Jenin” won the German Film Award 2010.
During filming Khatib drew the director’s attention to the empty building. An idea was soon hatched to make the town’s cinema accessible to the public once again. When the Federal Foreign Office heard about the project, it provided start-up funds, which were later considerably increased. Soon supporters for the project appeared from all over the world.
A cooperative project was born which is based on dialogue and the idea that participants organize themselves. The project involves local people at grassroots level and facilitates follow-on projects. As such it could serve as a model for sustainable development in the Middle East.
In around two years amazing things have been achieved. The stage has been restored and a total of 400 seats refurbished in the stalls and upstairs gallery. New sound and lighting equipment makes for a professional sound. A German cinema chain donated projectors, and soon even 3-D films will be shown. A summer garden with projection house sprung up from nothing.
Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad came to the opening on 5 August 2010. Young Palestinians and international guests crowded together in front of the red carpet. At the last minute the “Cinema Jenin” sign was fixed above the entrance. The town was in a state of frenzied excitement.
On the opening evening, as one looked at the faces of the people sitting together in the open-air cinema watching “The Heart of Jenin”, one could not but believe in the power of cinema to bring peace. The cinema theatre is a magical space of dreams and illusions – and there is a grateful audience in Jenin ready to enjoy it.
Author: Ruben Donsbach, Journalist, Berlin
Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office
The Islamic Umayyad dynasty constructed impressive buildings in the Middle East which remain a source of fascination to this day. Indeed some of them still pose puzzles. The most mysterious are the desert palaces built in the countries of the Levant. Almost a dozen such complexes were built in remote places, and academics still cannot agree on their function.
Mshatta Palace (in arabic Qasr al-Mshatta), situated south of Amman in Jordan, is one such palace and, in artistic and archaeological terms, the most valuable. The main facade and the audience court were decorated with intricate stone carvings. The detailed foliage scroll work on the facade illustrated the gradual emergence of an independent islamic style of ornamentation. In 1903, as a result of work on the construction of the Baghdad railway, a section of the palace’s facade was brought to Berlin to the Pergamon museum, which was just being established. There the wonderful facade is today one of the jewels in the collection of the museum of islamic art.
But what became of the original site?
It was forgotten, and not “rediscovered” until the 1960s. Today, lying to the north of Amman airport, it has been rehabilitated and is to be promoted as a further highlight of Jordan’s burgeoning tourist industry. However, a great deal of work remains to be done. The brick walls have been hollowed out by the effects of the weather and need to be repaired using a special mortar made of lime, brick dust and ash. Missing bricks in the style of the old ones will be manufactured specially. Finding the right firms for this requires a good local knowledge, and the formulae and technology require specialist know-how in the field of conservation. So the preservation and restoration of this unique monument in Jordanian history is an ideal opportunity for a joint project by Jordan’s antiquities authorities and Technische Universität Berlin and the National Museums in Berlin. As soon as the walls have been made safe, the arches, which collapsed as a result of earthquakes, will be rebuilt so that visitors can gain an impression of the palace’s former splendour. Finally, a viable solution needs to be found for the gap left by the facade now in Germany. Then, at the beginning of the 21st century, this authentically restored palace will be another highlight on the Jordanian tourist trail. In 744 the luxurious palace complex became the ruin of Caliph al-Walid II, whose ambitious construction projects so angered his people that he was assassinated.
Project: Prof. Dr. Ing. Johannes Cramer, Project Director, Technische Universität Berlin; Prof. Dr. Günther Schauerte, National Museums in Berlin
Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is a unique architectural ensemble comprising elements from 1700 years of varying cultural influences. The Church, which was declared a World Heritage site in 2002, is probably the oldest sacred building in continuous use in the Holy Land.
“Ubi natus est Dominus Iesus Christus, ibi basilica facta est iusso Constantini.” B. Bagatti, Gli Antichi Edifi ci Sacri di Betlemme, Franciscan Printing Jerusalem (1983)
Built in 339 AD under the auspices of Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, the original structure of the Church of the Nativity was largely destroyed, then rebuilt by Justinian in the mid-6th century and redecorated by the Crusaders in the 12th century. Today the Church is overseen jointly by the Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian Churches, which means that the daily services and numerous religious festivals of all three have to be taken into account during the restoration work.
Restoration began in 2013. Supported by the international community and the Palestinian Authority, the Italian restoration experts of Piacenti s. p. a. first tackled necessary work on the roof and windows, then on the external walls, nave, plaster and mosaics.
From a platform at the level of the joists, a temporary roof was installed to allow the restoration of the ancient roof system. Decayed sections of the joists were removed and replaced with ancient wood brought from Italy. The prime aim of these restorations was to retain as many of the original materials and elements as possible.
The external walls and internal plasterwork had been badly affected by rain, humidity and some microbiological damage. Restorers specialising in the conservation of stone and plaster therefore first cleaned all the surfaces and removed extraneous materials, filling in cracks with a suitable mortar and consolidating the most badly damaged areas. At the same time, work on the nave began.
A considerable amount of German support has been directed towards the restoration of the Church’s eastern door to the nave – a large ancient wooden structure with ornate woodcarvings which will soon again open to one of the most fascinating churches in history.
Project: Christian Schaal, Giammarco Piacenti, German Representative Office Ramallah in cooperation with Piacenti s. p. a.