Conservators, architects, scientists and archaeologists have joined forces this month to restore an ancient temple dating roughly two millennia, from complete destruction. The Ad-Dour Temple, discovered by archaeologists in the desert sands of Umm Al-Quwain in the 1980s, is undergoing a unique conservation project that is breaking boundaries not only in the UAE, but in the region as well.
With the keen aim to conserve the United Arab Emirate’s identity and heritage, a basis of cooperation was established between the National Council for Tourism and Antiquities, Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Umm Al-Quwain’s Department of Antiquities and Heritage, and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, through its regional conservation centre in Sharjah, (ICCROM-ATHAR). Sharjah’s Institute for Heritage supports the project as well, with much needed materials. Launched on 1 February 2016 in light of a scientific study jointly conducted by the project’s partners, ICCROM-ATHAR is responsible for the supervision and execution of the restoration works, utilising the longstanding expertise of its experts in the field.
The international experts are employing state-of-the-art nanotechnology in their race against time to help restore this precious piece of history, manifested in a beautiful square-shaped structure dedicated to the Semitic sun god Shamash.
H.E. Muhammed Khamis Al-Muhairy, Director General of NCTA, emphasised the significance of restoring this monumental archaeological site, which pours into the wider context of preserving the identity and heritage of the UAE and promoting them worldwide. Local professionals will be engaged in the restoration works, which will allow them to train and acquire skills relevant to archaeological restoration. This will serve as an opportunity to promote and increase local skills and expertise working in the field of restoration in the country.
Dr. Zaki Aslan, Director of ICCROM-ATHAR, believes the project has much to offer to the wider community, “The temple provides us with significant architectural and aesthetic value; it is a part of the nation’s heritage, especially with regards to the society’s religious and cultural values. We need to preserve whatever is left, and not only for us to cherish, but for future generations as well.”
Ms. Alya Al Ghafli, Director of the Department of Antiquities and Heritage in Umm Al-Quwain, explained the deterioration of Ad-Dour temple over the past years, referring to factors such as natural erosion caused by wind and rain which has led to the collapse of some of the temple’s walls and the decay of its plaster. This condition called for immediate intervention for restoration and preservation, especially given the prior enlisting of this temple on UAE’s Tentative World Heritage List in 2012.