Completion of training course in Byblos for the conservation of mosaics in situ

ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) and The Directorate General of Antiquities of Lebanon (DGA), in collaboration with the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) announced the culmination of a five-week international training course for the conservation of in-situ mosaics.

The training, which includes six DGA employees and six government employees from Libya, Jordan and Palestine, was developed to enhance the capacity of national authorities responsible for the care of archaeological sites in the Middle East and North Africa to conserve their mosaic heritage. A heritage which is increasingly threatened by modern construction, looting and lack of qualified personnel to carry out much needed conservation and maintenance work.

The training has included classroom lessons and practical exercises at Byblos on one of the few remaining mosaics left in situ at the site. Conservation technician trainees have learned a methodology for documenting and conserving mosaics using lime mortars to stabilize them, and have also been taught how to carry out preventive conservation measures such as reburial and drainage of mosaics.

The program complements an earlier training course held at Byblos in fall 2017 for the conservation of lifted mosaics that have been removed from their original locations. The course included participants from Lebanon and Algeria and was organized by the DGA and ICCROM with support from the Getty Foundation.

“The training in mosaic conservation in situ contributes to ICCROM’s strategic directions aimed at building institutional capacities in the region”, says Webber Ndoro, Director General of ICCROM. “Such training worksites have been part of ICCROM’s work in the Arab region through its Regional Office in Sharjah serving the Arab Member States; it aims at consolidating a partnership with the GCI and CRCPL for future worksites” added Zaki Aslan, Director of ICCROM’s Regional Office in Sharjah, UAE.

According to Mr. Sarkis el Khoury, Director General of Antiquities, “Lebanon is one of the first countries to be part of the MOSAIKON initiative, and has developed since then an advanced conservation strategy for the preservation of mosaics. A Mosaics Conservation Unit has been created by a qualified team from the DGA and is enlarged progressively by trained technicians. The Regional Center for the Restoration and Conservation of the Lebanese Heritage (CRCPL), which hosts this training worksite, has been put in place in order to ensure the transmission and sustainability of these conservation skills”.

“The GCI’s training worksite at Byblos would not be possible without the continued support of our project partners in Lebanon and their commitment to the protection of this vital cultural heritage,” says Jeanne Marie Teutonico, Associate Director of Programs, with the Getty Conservation Institute. “We are proud to have helped the development of skilled practitioners to implement mosaic conservation activities in Lebanon and in other countries that have been a part of the MOSAIKON initiative.”

The international team of instructors including mosaic conservation university teachers and conservators are ensuring the highest quality in theoretical and practical training in this short course, one of the last courses organized under the umbrella of the MOSAIKON initiative, a collaboration of the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, ICCROM and the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics (ICCM).

Since 2008, the MOSAIKON initiative has trained over 200 conservation professionals from countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean region, carried out research and model field projects to illustrate best practice, and strengthened the professional network through regular meetings of national heritage leaders and funding for participation in international conferences. Directors or representatives of three of the four organizations will be present in Byblos on April 24th to mark the end of this training program.