RECORD / MZ SITEWIDE / Video and Film Clips / VC18
Laerke Recht & Rick Hauser, 2014-
Updated July 2014

Film clip 18
(Western Staircase)

Date 2007
Editor Rick Hauser
Format .MP4
File size 12.5 MB
Duration 2.45 minutes


As you undoubtedly know, the excavators at Tell Mozan are world-renowned for their successful conservation methods. They have specialized in one of the most intransigent (if evanescent) materials known - dried mud.

Once excavated, exposed to heat and air, how can a given matrix of dried mud/mortar be preserved before it crumbles away into a heap of dust?

This sequence shows application of our conservation technique to the mortar in the interstices of the recently excavated (MZ20) "western staircase". A strip of burlap is applied over the "crack" between the stones, over the dried mortar that dates to the first making/repair of the steps. Then, mud from the surrounding plain - the very same dirt that was used by the Mitanni workmen when they first filled up the cracks - is slapped onto the burlap and smoothed down so as to provide a tight seal. The area will be covered with a tarpaulin and then backfill (dirt from this season's excavations) and left until next season, when excavations will resume.

Upon re-excavation, the burlap strip will serve to mark the interface between the applied mud and the ancient mortar.

Once again, the process takes a long time and is repetitive. We have let this sequence "go on" for some time, so you can study the workman and how he applies cloth and mud. It seems childishly simple, but this prophylactic measure will preserve the trace of millennial structures; and it is parsimonious of method. That is, it is simple, easy to execute, but remarkably effective.

Featuring               Giorgio Buccellati
              James Walker

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