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Grantees Announced: RPI for Cultural Heritage Resources Program

CAORC is pleased to announce the second round of award recipients for the Responsive Preservation Initiative for Cultural Heritage Resources.

Members of the Wadi el-Hudi Expedition examine sherds in Egypt

Pictured: members of the Wadi el-Hudi Expedition, recipients of an RPI grant, examine Egyptian pot sherds.

The RPI program is designed to fund projects for urgent, emergent, or priority issues that need to be addressed quickly. Small grants are available for rapid emergency projects in Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, The Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, Turkey, and Yemen.​

Applications are currently being accepted on a rolling basis. Visit CAORC Programs to find out more about this program and to apply, read about the first round of grantees, or view the full list of RPI Grantees.

In the second round of funding, RPI grants were awarded to the following five projects:

Documentation and Restoration Planning Campaign: Historic North African Crossroads - “Imi n Zawiya” (Morocco)

The project is a documentation and restoration plan campaign of Imi n Zawiya, a historic North-African crossroads and civic center dating to the 13th century. The site is located in Zawiya Ahansal on the northern slopes of the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The site is a unique representation of the traditional stone, rammed earth, mud brick and wood architecture of rural Morocco. The oldest structures on the site are 650 years old. Today, Imi n Zawiya is still used for the same civic uses as it has been for centuries. The site includes a public courtyard, two fortified gates and entrance tunnels, an animal stable, communal cooking area, and the bordering facades of saints’ and layperson houses. The site has historical and current significance as well as future potential.

Imi in the local Tamazight language means ‘mouth’. Imi n Zawiya is translated as the opening, entrance, or gateway to the region of Zawiya Ahansal. The people of the region are Amazigh (often referred to as Berber), pre-Arab inhabitants of North Africa. In the 8th century, during the Arab invasion, the Amazigh adopted Islam. Today, their culture, language, architecture, and political and religious belief systems are a tapestry of Amazigh and Islamic traditions. Imi n Zawiya continues to be used in a traditional manner for celebrations, tribal mediation, community meetings and pilgrimages. It is also becoming a destination for international and national students, tourists and researchers. It is a place where traditional Amazigh culture can be observed, engaged with and studied.

Site documentation and a comprehensive restoration plan are urgently needed due to: 1) increasing rural development, 2) impending loss of oral history, and 3) architectural degradation. This work will provide the information needed to apply for restoration funding for the site. The work will be publicly available via the Atlas Cultural Foundation.

  • Project Director: Cloe Medina Erickson, Atlas Cultural Foundation

  • Local Partner: Association Amezray SMNID

Continuing the Conservation and Restoration of the Mosaic Pavements of the Eastern Church at Khirbet et-Tireh (Palestinian Territories)

Khirbet et-Tireh is located approximately 16 km northwest of Jerusalem. Over the course of our four excavation seasons at Khirbet et-Tireh, as part of a long-term project, we have unearthed numerous architectural remains from the Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic periods. One of the most significant discoveries at the site was the Eastern Church, which is dated to the Early Byzantine period. This Church consists of five parts, and covers an area of ca. 750 sq. meters. The mosaic pavements of the church consist of geometric and figurative patterns rendered in shades of black, gray, yellow, orange, pink, wine red, green and blue, all on a white background.

At the end of our 2015 excavation season, we consolidated part of the unearthed mosaics of the church, leaving the remainder without any kind of intervention, due to a shortage in the budget of the project. However, we covered all the mosaics with Geotextile fabric topped with a layer of earth approximately 20 cm thick as a short-term protective measure.

The received grant from CAORC will enable us to implement two phases of conservation and restoration: (1) Conserve and restore the 150 sq. meters of mosaic pavements in the side rooms, which did not receive any kind of intervention in past seasons. During this phase, we will clean the mosaics' top surfaces; conduct a full documentation and assessment of the mosaics; re-set all detached tesserae, repair the edges and fill the lacunae; inject the sub-surface hollows; treat all visible cracks; treat the problem of the tree roots, both physically and chemically; and lift and re-lay certain sections of the mosaics. (2) Phase 2 will restore the damaged areas of the floor of the main hall and five of the side rooms (250 sq. meters) by installing new stone substrates and covering them with traditional mortar. The implementation of this project will result in the full restoration of these mosaics and in the prevention of the rainwater from penetrating into the ground beneath the pavements, and will likewise prepare the area for tourist and pilgrim visits.

  • Project Director: Prof. Dr. Salah Al-Houdalieh, Institute of Archaeology, Al-Quds University, Palestine

  • Head Conservator: Osama Hamdan, Director of Mosaic Center, Jericho, Palestine

  • Conservation Technician and Photographer: Raed Khalil, Mosaic Center, Jericho, and MA student of Conservation and Restoration Program at the Institute of Archaeology of Al-Quds University

Quantifying, Categorizing, and Digitizing of Islamic Ceramic Tiles in Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Monuments (Egypt)

Within Al-Darb Al-Ahmar there are many historical buildings that had a thick ceramic tile coating, such as Aq-sonqur mosque, Tekkia of Ibrahim Al-Gulshany, Alty Barmaq mosque and Al-Shikh Souod dome.

Previous studies of those tiles concentrated only on merely describing the tiles, they were never digitized or categorized, we did not know how many tiles there were, which make it very easy for the tiles to become lost or stolen, and also very hard or even impossible to get the tiles back. Documenting it the way we are proposing will change that.

Because tiles are made of fragile and easily broken ceramic material, documenting them is one of the most important ways to preserve them, especially when there is a lack of financial resources to restore and maintain the tiles. CAORC funding will help support maintaining these tiles, as we intend to create database, which will include all the data collected in the project.

  • Director: Hayam Ahmed Mohamed Dawoud, Manager, Documentation and Registration Division at Al-Darb Al-Ahmar inspectorate, Ministry of Antiquity.

  • Assistant Director: Rehab Mohamed Hassan Mohamed, Researcher at Documentation and Registration Division at Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Inspectorate, Ministry of Antiquity.

Salvaging Crete: Late Byzantine Churches and the Legacy of the Artist Ioannis Pagomenos (Greece)

Scattered throughout the prefecture of Chania, Crete, are eight small fourteenth-century Byzantine churches with fresco remains signed by (or associated with) one of the earliest known named Byzantine painters - Ioannis Pagomenos.

These churches represent valuable above-ground material evidence of peasant lifeways and communities, and reflect their daily concerns and preoccupations through their interior decoration. The churches also represent aggregates of minuscule amounts of capital donated by local villagers to erect and embellish these important buildings, often recording painted portraits and inscriptions of those donors, illuminating the often invisible ranks of peasant society.

Pagomenos’s work also provides insight into a pivotal early moment in the artistic transition of the medieval period to the early modern era in the Aegean. In cooperation with the local ephoreia, our team will conduct preliminary surveys of these eight churches’ current physical conditions and present states of conservation, fully measure and photo-document their architecture and decorative programs, and interview local stakeholders in an effort to provide baseline data for each church. Our ultimate goal is to create 2D and 3D renderings of each churches’ interior and exterior, which we plan to publish digitally.

  • Helen Human, PhD, Assistant Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, Washington University of St. Louis

  • Naomi Ruth Pitamber, PhD, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Wyoming

  • Cristina Stancioiu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Art History, College of William and Mary

  • Tiffin Thompson, M.A., Project Designer, El Dorado, Inc. Architecture Firm

Emergency Mitigation and Stabilization Work in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cyrene (Libya)

Controller Fadl Abdulaziz has requested support for his ongoing work to manage the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cyrene. This support will include the provision of tools and materials to effectively control the growth of plants in sensitive areas of the site; to stabilize and conserve in situ mosaics; and to stabilize stone walls.

  • Project Director: Susan Kane, Oberlin College

  • Architect and Conservation Consultant: Thierry Grandin

  • Controller: Fadl Abdulaziz, Department of Antiquities, Shahat

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