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


Mission for the Project “Networking Core Centers for the Transfer of Technology Related to Study and Protection of Archaeological and Architectural Heritage in Myanmar” (Architectural Field) Part 1: Material Testing and Structural Behavior Monitoring

Process of shaping the collected brick samples
Installation of targets for deformation monitoring

 The 6.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chauk on August 24, 2016 caused considerable damage to the Bagan Archaeological Zone in Myanmar, mostly to the brick buildings constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries. The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties rushed eight experts from various fields related to the conservation and restoration of historical buildings on two successive missions: the first in September 2016 and the second in October through November of the same year. The missions identified the state of the damage in the cultural heritage and studied its causes and mechanisms. The findings from these missions were published in March 2017 as the Report on the Project “Study on the Earthquake Damage in the Bagan Archaeological Zone, Myanmar.”
 In this fiscal year, we are undertaking the above-mentioned technical assistance project (subcontracted by the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) as part of the “Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, with the aim of providing information and technical advice to help improve the quality of the restoration work currently conducted by local authorities, while continuing to examine the appropriate measures to conserve and restore the damaged cultural heritage buildings. As the first field study for this project, we dispatched a group of three experts to the heritage site from May 17 to 25, 2017, during which the group collected brick samples to use for tests, including for material composition or mechanical strength testing, and also started the monitoring of structural behavior.
 By taking into account the types of buildings, year of construction, parts where bricks were used, dimensions of structural members, and other factors, the group collected a total of 24 pieces of damaged structural members as brick samples from the six buildings affected by the earthquake. The collected samples were shaped at the site into a form suitable for tests. In addition, to conduct material testing in Myanmar, they consulted with representatives from the Myanmar Engineering Society (MES) and visited its testing facility.
 As for the monitoring of structural behavior, the group installed crack gauges and targets for deformation monitoring on the three buildings (two temples and one pagoda) where typical crack and deformation patterns had been found during the study conducted in the previous fiscal year, and then measured their initial values. By continuously monitoring the progress of damage and deformation, we expect to be able to accumulate data over time that will be useful not only for assessing risk levels, but also for developing maintenance plans for the conservation and restoration of the cultural heritage buildings.


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