Through model planning and conservation activities at one site, this project aims to demonstrate best practices in the conservation of in situ mosaics, and to disseminate the results in order to improve the state of conservation of archeological mosaics throughout the region. This project is a tripartite partnership of the GCI, the Institut National du Patrimoine of Tunisia and the World Monuments Fund (WMF).
Famed for its underground villas, the Roman and Byzantine-era city of Bulla Regia, located in northwest Tunisia near the Algerian border, is a rare archaeological site that contains complete, superbly preserved ancient houses decorated with wall plasters and exquisite mosaic floors.
The town of Bulla was established in approximately the fifth century BCE and reached the height of its prosperity in the second and third centuries. Most of its buildings date from this era. The site is unique among the numerous archaeological sites in Tunisia due to its below-ground architecture and because most of the mosaics adorning the houses have remained in situ, offering visitors the opportunity to view polychrome mosaics in their original context. Currently, almost four hundred mosaics have been excavated and remain exposed at the site.
This project builds on the training of technicians in Tunisia that took place over more than ten years in collaboration with the Institut National du Patrimoine (INP),and relies on those GCI-INP trained technicians currently based at the archaeological site of Bulla Regia to carry out most of the mosaic conservation work. The project demonstrates the impact of such training activities, and demonstrates a sustainable approach to conservation practice through its reliance on local resources and materials.
This project also builds on past capacity building activities in Tunisia for site managers responsible for sites with mosaics. These short courses and workshops focused on conservation and management of archaeological sites; however it became clear that a model example of conservation planning for a site with a significant number of mosaics was needed. In response to this need, the second component of the model field project is the development of a conservation and maintenance plan for the hundreds of excavated in situ mosaics at the site of Bulla Regia.