AP – The Palace

Palace AP

Conservation record of
Palace walls


Giorgio Buccellati – May 2011, March 2022

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The project

Since its beginning, the Conservation Project has included a system for monitoring the results of the efforts devoted to the protection of the archaeological remains, with a particular focus on the Palace complex.Note 1 This was fundamental for the conservators working on the site, since it let an immediate comprehension of the appropriateness and the interventions made year after year, and it allowed corrections and improvements to the system. The accurate analysis of the results obtained by the different devices adopted to the walls of the Palace, in fact, naturally led to a continuous research for the best solutions, and the record also allowed an easy taking over, when different specialists and assistants succeeded each other in the task.

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Principles and techniques

The Conservation Project in Tell Mozan operates through interventions on the architectural complex (mostly superimposed metallic covers) and sometimes directly on the walls themselves with non-intrusive, natural materials (plaster and bisacce). The procedures employed in the Palace depend mainly on the conditions of the archaeological remains, following the main principle of non-invasiveness with respect to the original structures.

Maintenance has always been considered a constituent and essential part of the whole project. Since 2001, photos of every wall face in the Palace are taken systematically: throughout the years, the number of views increased, and now it includes almost every single wall face of the Palace. Ideally, each wall is photographed in full – or where necessary due to size, in two halves or three sections - directly facing the wall, and with indirect light in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid shades. When a similar view was not available, the best possible one has been chosen for the website.

In 2010, most of the wall faces of the structure have been manually drawn, with the purpose of developing a greater sensibility to the architectonic structures, thus getting a deeper perception of the problems that can weaken them. These drawings have been included in the web pages of the Conservation Project, together with the photos taken year after year.

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Periodic reviews

A textual description was also added in 2010, by Elizabeth Drolet, a professional conservator who joined our staff for this specific purpose. This took place nine years after the system was set in place: original photos from 2001 were printed and brought to the site: for each wall face, we compared the image we had to the current state we could see in front of us. This led to the written observations included in this digital book: the purpose was to provide an overall assessment of the condition, as well as a characterization of the specific condition issues (salt, cracking, delamination, crumbling, detachment, and erosion).

It is our aim to have periodic reviews that would provide an ongoing comparison with earlier phases of the project and a clear perception of the “state of health” of the walls. Ideally, this should be carried out by a professional conservator, but the model is such that it allows for others to update the observations as needed. This was the case with our 2022 review, twelve years after the review done by Drolet: the review was done by Amer Ahmad and Yasmine Mahmoud, and is currently being uploaded onto the server.

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System as a whole

     This specific digital book has been created for the Palace Wall Conservation Project in 2010, during the overall reorganization of the system. In the bar on the left side, one will find a table of contents listing the various sections of this chapter within the AP digital book.

First, there is an overall synopsis that gives a complete set of thumbnails for each wall face: from this page, it is possible to open single views in high resolution, or also to go to the page of one single wall. In earlier years, not all wall faces were photogrsaphed. In these cases, the missing views are clearly indicated. By clicking on the thtumbnails, the image at high resolution opens in a separate window.

Next, there is an explanation of the labeling system as it has developed during the years, together with a definition of the actual tags. This review of the labeling system is not purely technical: it reveals much about the development of the project and about our understanding of its aims and goals.It does so by mirroring the increasing awareness of the value and the distinctiveness of the attention put on the Conservation within the larger frame of the Mozan/Urkesh Archaeological Project.

Finally, links to the various sectors of the AP Palace are given. For each sector, the individual rooms are identified, with a specific documentation of all the wall faces for which data are available.

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Back to top: Conservation record of Palace walls