Training and Capacity Building for Technicians and Site Management Professionals
The second component of the mosaics in situ project was capacity building and training for professionals and technicians in the care, maintenance, and management of sites with mosaics.
Technician Training, Tunisia
The aim of this practical, hands-on training initiative—conducted in partnership with Tunisia's Institut National du Patrimoine (INP)—was to develop teams of skilled technicians in different regions of Tunisia who could address basic maintenance and stabilization needs of in situ archaeological mosaics. The technicians trained through this initiative have become an important element in the INP's efforts to safeguard Tunisia's archaeological heritage.
INP technicians from four regions in Tunisia (Northeast, Northwest, Central, and East Coast) participated in the training, which has been carried out principally at the sites of Utica, Thuburbo Majus, Makhtar, Nabeul, Jebel Oust, Hergla, and Dougga. Each course included twenty-two weeks of instruction over two years during which the trainees learned how to:
- document mosaics, their condition, and previous treatments;
- select appropriate lime-based mortars for the various types of stabilization and repair treatments;
- carry out specific maintenance and protective interventions, such as removal of vegetation, cleaning, mortar repairs, and reburial;
- carry out on-going monitoring of the mosaics;
- keep a maintenance file for each mosaic.
Practical instruction was assisted by demonstrations and exercises developed by the instructors. A step-by-step system of written forms was produced for the training to ensure that the proper stabilization and maintenance procedure is followed and documented by the technicians. Between campaigns, the technicians had the opportunity to gain additional practical experience on their own, which was later reviewed with the instructors. (See Related Materials).
To support the training, the GCI prepared didactic and reference materials for the technicians in French, English, and Arabic (see Related Materials), including a glossary of terms used for graphic documentation, which derives from the larger GCI mosaics glossary (Component One). In addition, the technicians were equipped with tool kits and other practical materials that will assist them in their future work. Monitoring of the technicians’ work and mentoring is on-going.
Between 2007 and 2009, the GCI's Education Department organized a series of workshops in collaboration with the Institut National du Patrimoine (INP) of Tunisia to build greater professional capacity within the INP. The Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, Tunisia (CMAST) workshops and the mosaic technician training together form a strategic effort to strengthen the INP's institutional capacity for site conservation and, consequently, to improve the overall condition and care of Tunisian archaeological sites and the maintenance of in situ mosaics.
Hammamet (Spring 2007): The first workshop, held in Hammamet March 19-April 6, 2007, was directed toward young professional architects, archaeologists, and site directors of the Institut National du Patrimoine (INP). The purpose of the workshop was to improve their understanding of the issues, principles, and practices integral to sustainable archaeological site conservation. Organized by the GCI in partnership with the INP and conducted in French, the workshop built upon the ongoing training of mosaic technicians in Tunisia. The archaeological sites of Pheradi Maius and Thuburbo Majus were used as locations for exercises and other instructional purposes. Training focused on broader site conservation concerns, such as issues pertaining to site context, preventive and remedial conservation, presentation, interpretation, and management. The three-week workshop explored the methods of values-based assessments to help set priorities and develop a site management plan; architectural conservation and site interventions; theories, practices, and methodologies for site conservation; visitor management; and multidisciplinary collaborative work.
El Jem (Fall 2007): The second workshop concentrated on the challenges of conserving and managing archaeological sites in an urban context. It was held October 21-27, 2007, in El Jem, a city that features a large Roman amphitheater and other significant archaeological remains. The workshop built upon the lessons of the Hammamet workshop, had roughly the same participants, and examined how the Tunisian Code du Patrimoine might be utilized to better conserve and manage Tunisia's archaeological sites.
Dougga (Spring 2008): The third workshop occurred May 19-24, 2008, at the archaeological site of Dougga, one of Tunisia's eight World Heritage sites. The workshop was designed to assist, in particular, site managers working at Dougga. They were given further training in documentation, preventive conservation, and site maintenance.
Thyna (Spring 2009): The fourth workshop occurred June 4-12, 2009 at the archaeological site of Thyna where participants (most of whom had attended the Hammamet and El Jem workshops) collaborated in producing a draft action plan for the site of Thyna related to prioritized conservation activities, as well as proposals for maintenance and cultural tourism.
Management Planning for Sites with Mosaics, Israel
Archaeological site management addresses the complex issue of preserving and revealing the cultural significance of sites in the face of continuous physical deterioration and impacts from nature and people—principally in the form of tourism and poor management practices—and in the context of the increasing complexity of interpretations and meanings associated with archaeological sites. In planning for sites with mosaics, practitioners and managers have little guidance in translating the significance and values attributed to mosaics into decisions about whether a mosaic should be detached or left in situ, whether it should be reburied or exposed for presentation, and what type and the extent of treatment or other interventions is appropriate.
In order to address the larger context of conservation interventions on mosaics, the site of Khirbet Minya/Horvat Minnim was chosen to initiate management planning for archaeological sites with mosaics. The initiative began in 1997 in collaboration with the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority and with the support of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Khirbet Minya/Horvat Minnim is located on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The site was excavated mainly during the 1930s and identified as an Umayyad palace built during the rule of the Caliph Al-Walid (705-715). It is one of a number of Umayyad palaces located mainly in the Levant region, but the only one of its kind in Israel. Some of the rooms are highly decorated with well-preserved mosaic floors in geometric designs, which are among the highlights of the monument and which attest to the end of the long tradition of mosaics in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Khirbet Minya/Horvat Minnim project team completed the initial stages of the planning process with a series of meetings and field assessment campaigns and the results compiled in an assessment report for the site. In addition, a photogrammetric survey of the palace was undertaken by GCI consultant Heinz Ruther of the University of Capetown. The report included a compilation of existing information about the site; assessments of significance, condition, and the management context; and options for future conservation and use. The assessment report was intended to be used by the site authorities as the basis for making decisions about the future of the site, which has been closed to the public.
Last updated: November 2009