Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage


Workshop on the Conservation of Historic Textiles in the Republic of Armenia

Practical training with historic textiles
Analysis of the fiber structure by microscope

 From June 25th through July 6th, 2018, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties organized a workshop on the conservation of historic textiles in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture in the Republic of Armenia. Based on the cooperation agreement regarding the cultural heritage protection area established between them in 2014, this workshop was implemented for the second time following last year.
 This workshop was conducted at the Scientific Research Center for Historical and Cultural Heritage and the Museum of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin with Dr. Mie ISHII, a visiting researcher from the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, and Ms. Midori YOKOYAMA from the NHK Culture Center Saitama, as lecturers. Fourteen trainees from seven institutions such as museums and galleries in Armenia attended the workshop. At the Scientific Research Center, historic textiles unearthed from archaeological sites in the 12th century, which the Center possesses, were analyzed by microscope before practical training on how they should be stored. At the Museum of the Mother See, the trainees stitched the Museum’s textiles for reinforcement with more advanced techniques before exhibiting them at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the United States in September.
 This time, we provided practical training with historic textiles that provided the trainees with very good experience. We will organize a workshop in 2019 as well to transfer our knowledge and techniques to Armenian specialists.


Conducting Training Seminars to Conserve and Restore Paper Cultural Properties for Syrian Experts and Providing Materials Related to Syrian Cultural Heritage

Training to conserve and restore paper cultural properties
Providing materials related to Syrian cultural heritage

 In Syria, the Middle East, a conflict that began in March 2011 has not ended even after seven years. The conflict has caused serious damages to both the Syrian people and their precious cultural heritage.
 Since 2017, the Japanese government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have been supporting Syria in preserving its cultural heritage. In addition to the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, academic institutions, such as the University of Tsukuba, Teikyo University, Waseda University, Chubu University, and the Ancient Orient Museum, plan to accept Syrian experts for a variety of training seminars in archaeology, and conservation and restoration of cultural properties, since February 2018.
 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) invited two Syrian specialists to Japan from May 15th to 30th, 2018, (two weeks) to conduct training seminars on conservation and restoration of paper cultural properties. At the seminars organized in cooperation with the National Diet Library and the National Archives of Japan, they learned basic restoration and conservation methods for documents and books.
 In January 2018, a news report that the ruins of the Ain Dara Temple, built in Northwestern Syria during the Syro-Hittite period, were severely damaged by an air raid was released. For this temple, TNRICP conducted a conservation and restoration project from 1994 through 1996. Project leader and Researcher Emeritus Tadateru NISHIURA provided related materials of that time. The materials were offered to the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria through the Syrian specialists invited to the seminars for utilization in the smooth restoration of the remains. In addition, valuable old photographic data on Aleppo, Damascus, and Palmyra, shot by Shin WADA in 1929 and 1930, which are now in possession of TNRICP were provided.


Archaeological Investigation and Risk Assessment for the Conservation and Management of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part III)

Excavated terrace structure
Ongoing precise survey

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been engaged in technical cooperation with the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) in order to draft a conservation and management plan for Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia. From March 8th through 22nd, 2018, we conducted the third archaeological investigation at Ta Nei Temple and a precise survey of its surroundings.
 The main purpose of the archaeological investigation was to further clarify the terrace structure on the upper surface of the embankment of the East Baray reservoir discovered during the second investigation in December 2017. The excavation was conducted jointly with staff from APSARA.
 The investigation disclosed the fact that laterite ashlars are laid to shape the entire structure as a cross, which is 13.8 m east to west and 11.9 m north to south. In addition, numerous roof tiles were found in its vicinity, and there were many holes and dents on the laterite ashlars, which seem to have been postholes. These findings implicitly show that there once was a wooden building on this terrace structure. Since the terrace structure is located on the east-west temple axis, we will continue the investigation to clarify the connection between the two structures.
 At the same time, we also conducted a precise survey with a total station around the temple. Based on the collected data, we are preparing a detailed topographic map, which is expected to be effectively utilized for the conservation and management of the temple.
 We also provided technical guidance for APSARA staff through technical transfer during the precise survey. We will continue such technical support, in addition to academic investigations.


Workshop for the Conservation of Historic Textiles in the Republic of Armenia: “Textile Art and Conservation: Knotting the Past and the Present”

Ongoing workshop
Completion Ceremony

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties organized a workshop for the conservation of historic textiles titled “Textile Art and Conservation: Knotting the Past and the Present” jointly with the Ministry of Culture in the Republic of Armenia from September 11th through 20th, 2017. This workshop was implemented based on the agreement on cooperation in the cultural heritage protection area concluded between them in 2014.
 In the Republic of Armenia, numerous organic substances such as fibers have been unearthed from archaeological sites. However, they do not have sufficient knowhow to preserve such artifacts. In addition, several religiously and historically valuable items, including ritual clothing and accessories, handed down since ancient times are stored in the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin, which is registered as a world cultural heritage site. Among them, however, some are seriously damaged, so it is necessary to restore them in the proper manner for smooth transfer of precious cultural heritage to the succeeding generations.
 For this workshop, Dr. Mie ISHII, a visiting researcher from the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, and Ms. Midori YOKOYAMA from the NHK Culture Center Saitama were invited as lecturers. The first half of the workshop was conducted at the Scientific Research Center for Historical and Cultural Heritage while the second half took place at the Museum of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Thirteen trainees from seven institutions handling cultural heritage such as museums attended the seminar. This first workshop was designed to learn basic knowledge and techniques on textiles. We will continue this cooperative relationship to enable them ultimately to preserve and restore their cultural heritage by themselves.


Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 6)

Unearthed lower podium
Exchanging opinions on how to record unearthed remains

 As part of the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we conducted an excavation survey around Shiva Temple in Hanumandhoka Palace in Kathmandu from June 2 through 22, 2017. This survey was jointly implemented by the Department of Archaeology in Nepal and the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
 Shiva Temple, which is said to have been constructed in the 17th century, is an about 5 meters square multi-storied tower. However, due to the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake in Nepal, its upper structure completely collapsed with the brick-stacked podium remaining. This survey mainly aimed to confirm the composition and the condition of the podium foundation to support the weight of the upper structure before its restoration.
 As a result of the survey, we found that the podium foundation was a large brick-stacked structure approximately 180 cm deep from the current surface, which maintained a stable condition. In addition, we also discovered the lower podium buried in the surrounding ground. Thus, there is a possibility that this Shiva Temple may have undergone more complicated processes than originally expected.
 During the excavation survey, Nepalese and Japanese experts also exchanged opinions on the methods of measurement and photographing the remains. We are thinking of sharing more technical information between the two countries while continuing the academic research toward the complete restoration of the collapsed historic structure.


Symposium “Syria’s Recovery and Its Cultural Heritage”

Presentation given by Dr. Youssef KANJOU

 Pro-democracy movements in the Middle East that originated from the Arab Spring have caused major changes in the Arab world. A large-scale democracy movement began in Syria in April 2011, and where this swell will lead is not known. The nation is currently in a de facto state of civil war. Syria has already experienced over 100,000 deaths, and many citizens have been forced to flee. Opposition is growing as Syrians flee to neighboring countries, and there appears to be no end in sight to the conflict.
 As the civil war unfolds, the destruction of cultural heritage has again captured headlines around the world. Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, is renowned as an ancient capital with scenic views, but the city has been home to severe fighting during the war. Cultural heritage is at great risk, as evinced by the burning of historical souqs (markets or bazaars) that led the city to be inscribed as a World Heritage Site and destruction of the much of the Ancient City of Aleppo. In light of continued fighting, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee placed all 6 of the World Heritage sites in Syria on the List of World Heritage in Danger on June 20, 2013.
 In light of these circumstances, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo hosted a symposium on “Syria’s Recovery and Its Cultural Heritage” on October 31st with the backing of the Japanese Society for West Asian Archaeology.
 During the symposium, presentations were given by 9 experts, including Dr. Youssef KANJOU, the current Director of Antiquities and Museums of Aleppo. Presentations covered the Current State and Future Direction of the Syrian Civil War, Syria’s History and Cultural Heritage, the Extent of Destruction of Cultural Heritage by the Syrian Civil War, and Restoration of Cultural Heritage and National Recovery. A panel discussion followed the presentations, where the topic of What Should Be Done to Restore Syria’s Cultural Heritage Now and in the Future was actively discussed.


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