The Northwest Heroon
During the past week, the Northwest Heroon project sponsored by the Group Arco (Belgium) and supervised by Ebru Torun (KULeuven) proceeded as planned. As her previous assistant, Tom Verbist (Center Lemaire, KULeuven) left for Belgium, Torun was now assisted by Özge Basagac (METU Ankara), who came over from the Antonine Nymphaeum restoration team and has previously worked on the Heroon. The team was busy completing replacement of the remaining stones of the upper part of the socle with the famous dancing girls frieze. The north, east, and south sides have already been rebuilt and horizontally clamped. The west facade will be replaced as soon as the finishing touches are given to the new pieces of stone. Meanwhile, preparations were made for the replacement of the rows of stones belonging to the temple like structure (naiskos) above the socle. Stones belonging to the stylobate (lowest row of stones) of the naiskos have been studied one by one for cracks that needed consolidation. Major cracks were stitched using fiberglass rods that were inserted perpendicularly through the detached planes of the block. Other fissures and joints were sealed using the lime mortar that in the last four years has proven to resist the harsh climatic conditions of the site. Stylobate blocks were further prepared for replacement and dowels for vertical connections were placed on this set of building stones. Stone workers started to carve one of the few blocks that needed to be re-created for the stability of the ashlars of the cella wall, being the bottom section of the northwest corner orthostat (i.e. the lowest row of tall blocks standing upright). A plaster copy of the missing part of the southwest corner plinth was also taken for being carved by using a pantograph. The team has also started to complete the infill of the monument using rubble and lime mortar, which will be the main task of the coming week.
The Antonine Nymphaeum
Last week, Semih Ercan continued various restoration activities at the Antonine Nymphaeum on the Upper Agora, sponsored by KBC Banking and Insurances, Renier Natural Stone and the L.Baert-Hofman Fund (all Belgium). On the four columns, of which the large additions last week had been shaped mechanically (see Restoration, July 25-29), the excess parts left for protection during the process of turning were removed. Columns C4, C6, and C8 were placed in their original location. C1, C5, and C14 are being prepared for placing in the week to come. From a stone quarry in Eskisehir, black breccia blocks were cut and sent to a factory in Afyon to be shaped mechanically in a turning machine for the remaining two columns (C7 and C10) on either side of the central niche. The remaining fragments of the originals of these were too weathered to carry load. They are expected to arrive next week. The fourth arch was completed and its wooden support removed. The resulting joints of the arch are even more satisfactory than the trial with the plaster mold of the missing voussoir. Stone carver Eva Leplat started carving in situ the decoration on the new voussoir. The fissured Corinthian capital, which she was carving last week, could be recycled by removing part of its central section, thus reducing its height and making it feasible to recarve it as one of the capitals with smaller dimensions (their heights vary up to nearly 10 cm). In the meantime, work also started in the second arch. The third and eighth voussoirs, designed following the model of the original second and ninth voussoirs, were adjusted so that they would match each other exactly. In the preliminary study, the voussoirs to be designed are still being used in a basic geometric shape, without carving the curves above and below. The final shaping of the arch will be done after the completion of the geometry. At the moment the fourth, sixth, and seventh voussoirs are being shaped. Stone carver Sinan Ilhan finished the basic geometric form of his new Corinthian capital and started carving the decoration. A list of still missing parts of architraves, cornices and capitals was prepared. The stonemasons began to prepare the additions for these blocks.
On site conservation
The team supervised by Paola Pesaresi continued its conservation activities, partially sponsored by the S.H. Kress Foundation, in different parts of the site. The team was reinforced by the arrival of Stefano Volta and Andrea Boschi (both Italy). The pilot project to present the hypocaust (heated floor system) carried out in caldarium I by Pietro Mangarella, who left us in the mean time, was completed this week by Samantha Fozzi. It was decided to reconstruct only one terra-cotta floor slab as well as three of its damaged supporting brick columns both as a tourist showcase and a test against the extreme weather elements of winter and summer. The conservators finished consolidating and reinforcing the best preserved floor slab, and re-erected the missing columns. The floor slab was reinforced and reassembled with fiberglass rods and epoxy resin last week (see Restoration, July 25-29). This week, it was finished with an undercoating of fibreglass, adhered with a mixture of paraloid and color-mediating brick dust. This skin acts as a tensile support for the massive slab. For the erection of the columns, square bricks of proper dimensions were salvaged from excavation refuse, and circular bricks originating from other columns in the caldarium were retrieved from storage in the depot. Each column was positioned and assembled using documented evidence of locations and dimensions of the originals. The bricks were mortared into place with a 1:3 cocciopesto, similar to the original mortar in color and composition. Finally, the massive floor slab was mounted atop the columns and a 3-cm. thick "sacrifice layer" of cocciopesto was spread on its surface to absorb the effects of weathering.
With the arrival of restorer Stefano Volta and his assistant Andrea Boschi, the mosaic floor in waiting room XVII on the second floor of the palatial mansion in the Domestic area entered into its final phase of preparing its removal (see Restoration, July 25-29). Nathan Fash (Tufts University) managed to complete the exhaustive photographic documentation, ending up with nearly 1,000 images, which were individually mapped onto a plan view, and now serve as a permanent record. Thereafter, a first layer of adhesive material was applied to the surface of the mosaic: paraloid (diluted to 15%) to serve as the (ultimately removable) skin between the mosaic itself and the subsequent layers of rigid material. Before any other strata were laid down, however, Stefano Volta determined the size and edges of the fragments to be removed. The floor was thus subdivided into 11 sections based on the geometry of the mosaic and its surface conditions. Where two sections abut, a sacrifice border, one tessera (mosaic stone) wide, was established. Each tessera in these borderlines was labelled with a number written directly on the paraloid skin and a corresponding one on the 1:1 drawing. These were then individually removed, which will allow sections to come free as a whole without damaging the integrity of the adjacent sections. Following the sectional divisions, Paola Pesaresi and the rest of her conservation team (S.Volta, A.Boschi, N.Fash, E.Tekin, S.Belibas, and V.Lini) worked in concert to apply the first layer of rigid material: farina fossile mixed 1:1 with pva (diluted to 20%) was applied as a pasty liquid, and dried very quickly to a solid state. A second layer followed, this time a veil of light gauze adhered as a tensile skin with the same farina fossile and pva mixture. A third and eventually a fourth layer, with heavier gauze and carpenter's adhesives, covered the latter. Finally, the fragile edges, which will undergo the greatest stresses during removal, were reinforced with heavy gauze strips and carpenter's adhesives. The removal procedure was then tested on a one square meter section. Spades were inserted beneath the mosaic, and the section was slowly pried out of place. Surprisingly, nearly ten centimeters of cementitious material remained attached to the underside of the mosaic, making the piece quite heavy. Precautions will be taken next week to account for this unpredicted factor as the remaining sections are removed and stored.
Statuary recovered during 2003 and 2004 from the Hadrianic Nympheum was placed under the care of Valentina Lini, who together with our sculpture specialist Semra Seral (University of Köln; in the fall KULeuven) began gathering and assembling small fragments, treating them exhaustively with the disinfectant Benzalconium Chloride (diluted to 4%). A visual inspection of the stored fragments of various sizes was performed based on surface appearance (decay, lichens, calcium deposits, and stone typology) to discern which statue each fragment came from. Toward the end of the week, the construction of a sandbox was completed in the excavation house, where the large pieces of the colossal statues of Apollo and Demeter were kept. Last Wednesday, both were reassembled (see Sculptural Studies, August 1-5).
Small finds conservation
Activities in our small finds conservation lab, this year directed by Emine Kocak (Ankara) now run at full speed, treating hundreds of artifacts arriving every evening. After careful recording of each one by the depot managers and the responsible trench supervisors, a selection is made of object that need immediate cleaning and conserving. The work in the lab is taking care off by several people. Students Arzu Özmen (Ankara, Yüksek Meslek Okulu) and Melih Ekinci (Istanbul, Technical University) deal on a daily basis with routine cleaning. Canan Ustabay (Ankara) concentrates on the restoration of ceramics, whereas Emine Kocak and Filiz Zeyveli treat copper alloys, mostly consisting of coins. Over 100 coins have been treated so far. They all receive a treatment with a corrosion inhibitor (BTA) and are then lacquered (Incralac) to protect them for further decay. Generally spoken, metal is in good condition because of the beneficial soil composition. Over the past weeks, many statuary fragments have reached the lab, where they were cleaned by Melih, Canan, and Arzu and later pieced together by Semra Saral and Valentina Lini (see Sculptural Studies, August 1-5). Last week Ines Vandewoestijne left the conservation team, so that the rest of the group is now also dealing with the glass finds. Katleen Vandenbranden (City of Maastricht, The Netherlands) still takes care of the small metal finds from previous years, which are studied by Nathalie Kellens as part of her doctoral dissertation. During the past two weeks, digital photographs were taken from selected objects so we could start storing finds permanently. Finally, after four fearful weeks, some uninvited guests (mice placed there by the excavation director in order to keep spirits awake!) left the lab.