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ARCE Organizes Expert Panel at AIA Annual Meeting

ARCE Organizes Expert Panel at AIA Annual Meeting

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ARCE Organizes Expert Panel at AIA Annual Meeting
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Left to right: Gerry Scott, Michael Jones, Richard Redding, Matthew Adams, Elizabeth Bolman, Gillian Pyke, Fatma Ismail. Photo: Kathleen Scott

The weekend of January 7 was a whirlwind of activity for ARCE's U.S. staff and several ARCE project directors. The Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) was held in San Antonio, Texas (also home to ARCE's U.S. office) January 7-9, and ARCE had a strong presence at the conference. In addition to manning an informational booth, ARCE organized a scholarly colloquium which showcased some of our most important conservation projects in Egypt. The colloquium was entitled "The American Research Center in Egypt’s (ARCE) Conservation Projects: An Archaeological Approach to Preserving Egypt’s Cultural Heritage."

Following an introduction by ARCE Director Gerry Scott, six ARCE project directors presented papers on their respective USAID-funded conservation projects, taking a special look at the complementary relationship between archaeology and conservation. A summary of the colloquium paper topics follows:

Conserving Information from the Past in Field School Training Projects at Giza and Luxor
Mark Lehner, University of Chicago, Director, Ancient Egypt Research Associates
Filling in for Mark Lehner, director of the ARCE/AERA Field School, was Richard Redding, Curator of the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology. The ARCE/Ancient Egypt Research Associates field school trains inspectors of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) in modern archaeological practices and recording (Giza Pyramids) and in a Salvage Archaeology Field School (Luxor) where professional archaeologists and field school graduates do ‘real world’ rescue archaeology on development sites.

The Mudbrick Cult Enclosure of Khasekhemwy (the Shunet el-Zebib) and the Cultural Landscape of Abydos: A Monument at Risk
Matthew Adams, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

At the Shunet el-Zebib, Abydos,prolonged insect, bird and animal attack and occupation by early Christian monks jeopardize the mudbrick walls. Further risk comes from nearby urban and agricultural developments. Excavation and recording to document the structure and its environs are combined with conservation work that addresses the endangered stability of the monument.

Wall Painting Stratigraphy and Dating the Red Monastery Church at Sohag
Elizabeth Bolman, Temple University

The ‘Red Monastery’ Church is the only intact painted Late Antique church in Egypt still in use. Conservation of the church and its paintings revealed extensive and well preserved murals of the 6th to 8th centuries. A stratigraphic analysis of the five phases of wall paintings and their associated plaster layers has enabled re-dating of the wall paintings and architectural development of the church.

Conservation by Communication: Conservation Strategy at the White Monastery at Sohag
Gillian Pyke

At the nearby ‘White Monastery’, a painted funerary chapel dated circa AD 450 was excavated by Egyptian colleagues a decade ago and left unpublished. A project here is gathering data verbally from archaeologists and monks, collecting recent and historic photographs,cleaning wall paintings and preparing for preservation through awareness and publication.

Reconstructing the Mut Temple of Hatshepsut and Tuthmose III at Karnak
Betsy Bryan, Johns Hopkins University

Filling in for Betsy Bryan was Fatma Ismail, McDaniel College. At Karnak, the ARCE/Johns Hopkins University’s Mut Temple Project focuses on the temple’s development before its present form was established, circa 700 BC. Decorated masonry from the earlier buildings reused in later foundations and saturated with saline groundwater is preserved and made accessible through conservation, recording and documentation, and display.

Tracing Roman Luxor: The Tetrarchic Castra at Luxor Temple
Michael Jones, Egyptian Antiquities Conservation Project, ARCE

Recent cleaning and conservation of Roman frescoes in Luxor Temple initiated a re-appraisal and re-contextualization of these paintings and associated remains. A multi-disciplinary project is examining the art historical and textual sources, architectural remains and archive photographs for a new publication of this material.Yet the paintings remain vulnerable to urban renewal and tourism, emphasizing the importance of conservation through documentation.

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