Restoration: July 25-29, 2004
The Northwest Heroon
Funded by Group Arco, Ebru Torun and her team continued work on the Augustan NW Heroon. During this past week, the team focused on the permanent placement of the rows of blocks above the frieze of dancing girls. The stones belonging to these rows on the north side have already been placed. On the east and south sides, the row of blocks immediately above the frieze was put into position. On the west, a replacement for a missing stone is now being carved. In order to give the wall a more lively appearance, this row of stones projected slightly (ca. 2 cm) beyond the rest of the wall. The 0.60 m high row of stones above this projecting "ledge" could be placed on the east and south sides. In the course of next week, both rows should be completed all around the structure. All these stones have already been joined in the horizontal level using fiberglass tissue in an epoxy bedding. Fiberglass dowel rods are already fixed in the lower part of the upper stones, but not yet in the upper side of the stones below, which will happen next week through the injection of epoxy in newly carved dowel holes and channels leading to them. The molded third row of stones above the frieze as well as some of the stylobate blocks of the temple like structure (naiskos) above the podium with the dancing girls frieze, were also checked in some locations. Last week, the architects also worked on the stone platforms studying parts of the naiskos, such as the doorjambs and lintel, as well as its architrave and tendril frieze layers. More fragments of doorjambs were identified, nearly completing the two sides of the monumental door. In order to find a few more missing elements, the stone platforms from neighboring buildings, such as the late fortification wall, the Propylon of the Doric Temple, and the Bouleuterion courtyard, which all collapsed together, are also carefully screened.
|Left, head of one of the dancing girls along the Heroon's south side. Right, detail of the nicely decorated door lintel.|
The Antonine Nymphaeum
Grants from the KBC Bank and Insurances, Renier Natural Stone, and the L.Baert-Hofman Fund (all Belgium), enabled Semih Ercan's team to continue working on the second and fourth arch of the nymphaeum's back wall, to place the architraves of the fifth niche, and to reconstructing the back wall in the central niche. The construction of the fourth arch was nearly completed, although some minor adjustments still need to be carried out. Rebuilding arches has proven to be one of the most difficult tasks. The process will be finished after the carving of the decoration on the newly carved lowest right voussoir. Construction of the second arch started with the placement of the right newly carved pilaster capital. When the capital was put into place, the sun started to emphasize its decoration in a most dramatic way. This allowed placing two new voussoirs together with the three original ones. The missing part of the first voussoir of the first arch was completed, and carving the missing elements of the second voussoir of the first arch started.
The inner face of the back wall of the central niche was reconstructed with new stones. The latter were levelled for placing the architraves, which once carried the building's central conch (shell-shaped half dome). Before this intervention the architraves were unstable from a lack of support at the rear. Two columns were levelled on the podium. Then the temporary conical stone capitals were put on those. These capitals had been carved from soft stone in an abstract way that only represents the exact height and load bearing section of the original capitals. Thus we can continue our trials with the original architraves, which the missing capitals once carried, while the latter are being carved. Toward the end of the week the six architraves of the fifth niche were all placed, revealing differences in level between the back wall and the columns. Four columns with large protruding additions could be mechanically reduced to their correct dimensions, and this means that 14 of the original 16 columns are now ready to be re-erected. This will allow us to focus mainly on the upper structure of the building, namely the architraves, cornices, cassettes, and gables.
The excess parts of the two new Corinthian capitals being carved by Eva Leplat and Sinan Ilhan were removed, and the actual carving process started with the appearance of the abstract acanthus leaves and the abacus. Unfortunately, we were also confronted with the fact how tricky veins even in high quality marble like that from Dokimeion can be: while trying to correct something on Eva's capital, the stone cracked along a vein running obliquely through it after three weeks of laborious work. We hope to be able to repair the damage in the week ahead. Architraves from the right part of the nymphaeum were also completed. In the cornices gaps between broken surfaces were filled with epoxy, so that they can be prepared for stone additions. Experiments with the epoxy mixture carried out by Paul Hostyn, showed that the new mix would not change color under continuous UV light.
On site conservation
With the arrival this week of architect Samantha Fozzi (Italy), the pilot project for the hypocaust system (see Restoration, July 18-22) in caldarium I of the Roman Baths picked up steam. Pietro Mangarella and Samantha Fozzi began the delicate process of drilling and reinforcing two of the damaged oversized terra-cotta pavement slabs that will be used for reconstruction. The cracked fragments were first assembled dry to determine a fixing order. Small fragments were joined with five-minute epoxy. Fiberglass dowels to span the larger cracked fragments were prepared with the guidelines given by ancient masonry specialist and structural engineer Giovanni Vercelli (Italy). Parallel holes were drilled into the center of the slab's thickness to accommodate the fiberglass rods. Finally, the fragments were carefully joined, one by one, by fixing the rods in place with seven-hour epoxy resin. Following on the tail of architects, are drawing sections and elevation at a scale of 1:20, Mangarella and Fozzi began cataloging and dismantling the freestanding cylindrical columns, and square pilaster of the hypocaust section to be restored for display to the public.
Working early in the morning to protect the ethyl silicate laden mosaic of rooms XXXV and XVII of the palatial mansion from direct sun, architect Karel Paul and his team of topographers and architects removed the tarpaulin cover and recorded points corresponding to the fixed references established at the 1:1 drawing of the floor. The drawing itself was finished this week with the help of nearly the entire conservation team and several architects, in order to prepare its removal next week. Meanwhile, Nathan Fash (Tufts University), supported by the S.H.Kress Foundation, with the help of photographer Bruno Vandermeulen, began an elaborate photographic documentation (requiring over 500 detail shots), which will serve as a permanent digital record of the mosaic.
||Nathan Fash prepares the detailed photographic recording of the mosaic floor of room XVII to be removed next week.|