Restoration: August 22-26, 2004
The Northwest Heroon
Work on the Augustan Northwest Heroon sponsored by Group Arco (Belgium) and directed by arch. Ebru Torun (KULeuven) has reached the final days of this summer's campaign with about ten days ahead of schedule. Last week, the team was again able to continue placing stones after a long period spent on filling the core of the monument with mortared rubble (see Restoration, August 15-19). The stylobate blocks of the ground level of the temple-like structure (naiskos), which forms the monument's upper part, had been prepared for installation during the past weeks. This week all 25 of them were placed. Ebru was especially pleased with the levelling of the blocks, one of the most crucial points of the construction at this stage. The sensitive levelling of the rows below taking into account the original imperfections of the monument has proved successful as the stylobate level now provides a near perfect base on which to build the naiskos. The stylobate of the monument was one of the few rows on the building, where all original slabs were available and no supplemental pieces were needed. Therefore this row also served to check the precision of the restoration of the lower layers of the monument, which has proven to be exact to the centimeter. The top 15cm of the core was filled with gravel during the previous week, which facilitated the levelling of the slabs in the middle as well as provided a good bedding for the stones of different heights. Once the ground level was built, the replacement of the plinth of the naiskos could be prepared. Supplemental pieces have been carved for two of the stones belonging to this row. This week these new blocks were assembled with the originals and the broken pieces of the elegant doorjambs of the naiskos. By the end of the week not only the original stones of the plinth but also some of the orthostats were replaced temporarily on the monument that gave the first taste of the scale of the naiskos. This must have been the most efficient and fruitful week of the campaign, during which a total of 38 stones were replaced on the monument and nine original stones were assembled and consolidated. The team hopes for a similar last week, reaching a level with at least another higher row of stones.
On site conservation
The Trajanic street wall project, sponsored by the S.H. Kress Foundation (USA) and directed by Paola Pesaresi (Italy) moved an important step forward this week with the partial reassembling of the northern face next to the actual fountain, up to the layer where the frieze blocks were originally placed. The blocks belonging to these last layers show no connection marks such as anathyrosis (smooth) bands or signs of metal clamps. If this absence gives information about the original methodology of construction of the wall (at least in its last phase), on the other hand it indicates that only the shape of the sides of the blocks and the tool marks can attest to their original location. One block of the frieze level has been found to be a reutilised decorated block that originally belonged to another early Imperial building. After having completed the investigation on all building elements, many of the blocks seem to have been reused and it is now an open question if even the bust relief blocks were possibly remodelled and adapted for this wall. One, representing Zeus and now displayed in the museum of Burdur, reveals traces of a former presence of clamps altered to be used for lifting. Such an adaptation is not surprising as the original curved terrace wall was built in Trajanic times, but partially rebuilt and extended to the south in Severan times, when the early Severan nymphaeum was built along the north side of the Lower Agora. The team is now working on the careful removal of the blocks belonging to the southern face, i.e. the part of the wall south of the street fountain, which were found still in situ though severely out of balance. For this purpose, we are now testing a special tool normally used to lift marble slabs in the quarries and re-adapted for different sizes. With this system, the blocks can be lifted and replaced without the use of crowbars that might damage the stone surface.
||Crane man Tufan Ayan next to the replica of the Heracles bust placed back in the wall
Another intervention is currently being carried out in the Lower Agora: frost during the past winter created cracks and fractures in the stone bases of the columns of the Severan Nympheum that have to be repaired. After fixing the fragments with epoxy resin and special additives (microfibers) to improve the resistance to tensions, the cracks have been covered with a synthetic mortar based on the resin fluorurate and powdered calcium carbonate (pure dolomite). This layer allows for reversibility using acetone and has been tested in climatic conditions similar to the ones of Sagalassos.
In the meantime, the conservation lab group joined our on-site team to help with some delicate interventions that had to be executed before the end of the campaign. The main undertaking was completing the consolidation of frescoes in the Basilica in the former Bouleuterion's courtyard and in the palatial mansion of the Domestic area, but there was also emergency fixing of unstable marble opus sectile slabs recently excavated in the Roman Baths.