Conservation of Frescoes of Saint Theodore’s Church (Mar Tadros) in Bahdidat in Byblos – Lebanon (2009-2012)

(Saint Theodore’s  church  (Mar Tadros) was listed as a historic monument in Lebanon in 1966. Built in the eleventh century, it is located on the top of a hill at around550 meters above sea level,10 kilo meters northeast  of Byblos(Jbeil). The church is the property of the Archdiocese of Jbeil (Byblos), but its preservation is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture Directorate General of Antiquities.

The restoration project of the frescoes of Saint Theodore’s church (Mar Tadros) in Bahdidat (Jbeil district) started in2009 in the framework of ICCROM’s ATHAR Programme under the supervision of Ms. Isabelle Doumet Skaf, director of Conservation SARL Company, and the management of Dr. Zaki Aslan, representing ICCROM-ATHAR. The team working on the project included four Lebanese conservators: Isabelle Doumet Skaf, Nathalie Hanna, Badr Jabbour Gedeon and Ghada Salem – the latter two were former ATHAR Programme trainees – and three Italian experts, namely, Giorgio Capriotti, Caterina Michelini Tocci, and Sylvia Tribolati.

At the beginning of the restoration work, the state of conservation of the frescoes was alarming despite efforts to prevent water infiltration into the building. Interventions included simple cleaning (i.e. scalpel, brushes), chemical cleaning using organic solutions and consolidation by injection, treatment of micro-organisms, dried soluble and insoluble salts. Waterproofing of the roof was also redone and repointing of the façade was executed to reduce water seepage and ensure long-term protection of the paintings in the church. Mortars and pigments were analyzed to obtain additional information on the ancient techniques used by local painters in medieval times.

Upon the completion of the restoration project of the frescoes of the church,  inauguration of the restoration project took place on Friday, the 13th of September, in the presence of H.E Mr. Gabi Layoun, Minister of Culture. Also present at the event was Dr. Rawya Majzoub – Barake, representing ICCROM-ATHAR Regional Centre.



Workshop on Managing World Heritage Sites  -  Oman (October, 20-23, 2012)

ATHAR Centre has contributed to the four-day workshop in Oman co-organized with the ARC-World Heritage Centre and led the last two days of training in the area of site management and conservation principles. Building the capacity of professionals working on World Heritage Sites in Oman was the main topic discussed throughout the workshop, which was carried out through an integration of lectures and exercises. The participants appreciated ICCROM’s contribution in introducing principles in Site Management and Conservation of World Heritage sites.


Workshop on Preparing World Heritage Nomination Files – Dubai, United Arab Emirates  (October 31- November 1, 2012)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a long history and a rich cultural heritage encompassing different civilizations that thrived on this land for more than seven millennia, and continues to exist until today. Some of these cultural sites have an outstanding universal value that qualify them for inscription on the World Heritage List.  The “Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas)” was the first and the only site to date in the UAE inscribed on the List in 2011.

Inscribing cultural sites and properties on the World Heritage List, increases the opportunities of their preservation and conservation according to the international standards set by UNESCO. A World Heritage property or site gains worldwide attention and becomes an international tourist attraction.

The National Council of Tourism and Antiquities, in cooperation with several organizations  among which is the ATHAR Regional Conservation Centre, has formed a national committee of experts and specialists to prepare the nomination files for the sites on the UAE’s “Tentative List” and to schedule their submission to the World Heritage Centre. The Committee has held several meetings which have resulted in the scheduling of the nomination of three sites so far, “Khor Dubai” in 2014, “Ad-Dur Site” in 2016, and the “The Cultural Landscape of the Central Region in the Emirate of Sharjah” in 2017.


Expert Training Workshop by the Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Convention – Tunisia (November 17-20, 2012)

The ATHAR Regional Conservation Centre presented case studies from World Heritage Sites in the Arab region and highlighted issues related to the two main pillars of the Outstanding Universal Value criteria namely; authenticity, integrity as well as to the management of World Heritage sites in the Arab states.

The participants in this sub-regional workshop were from Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania: they were selected upon ATHAR Centre’s recommendation.