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


21st Conference on International Cooperation on Conservation

A scene from the conference

 21st Conference on International Cooperation on Conservation: “Monitoring after Conservation Work” was held on December 6, 2007 with an attendance of 93 persons. Three presentations were given: Nishiura Tadateru of Kokushikan University, “Importance of Monitoring for Conservation of Remains, and Its Problems”; Nahar Cahyandaru of Borobudur Heritage Conservation Office in Indonesia, “Monitoring of the Borobudur Post Restoration”; and Kim Sa-Dug of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea, “Long-term Plan for the Conservation of Seokguram Grotto.” The presentations were followed by discussions. Various monitoring methods used ad respective sites were introduced and information was shared among the participants. We were made to realize that in order to introduce these methods to other sites it is necessary to make wider appeals about the importance of monitoring.


Conservation training program for Iraqi experts (3)

The training of x-ray radiography for archaeological artifacts (at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)

 The conservation training program, “Restoration of the Laboratories of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad,” a UNESCO Japanese Funds-in-Trust project for Iraqi conservators from the Iraq National Museum, Baghdad, which was held for 3 months, was completed on December 12. The trainees visited Saitama Cultural Deposits Research Corporation on November 13 and 14 to see its conservation laboratory of archaeological artifacts, exhibition and storage rooms and to participate in the conservation work of pottery. From November 19 to December 3, they participated in a training program on the use of various apparatuses used in conservation, such as x-ray radiography, at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. On December 10, they delivered a presentation on the current conditions of the Iraq National Museum, Baghdad, and local museums in Iraq, and their activities in the conservation laboratories as well as on the trainings in Japan. It is hoped that the 4 trainees will employ what they have acquired in the training to contribute to the conservation of cultural heritages


Conservation project for fragments of Bamiyan birch manuscripts

Conservation project for fragments of Bamiyan birch manuscripts (1)
Conservation project for fragments of Bamiyan birch manuscripts (2)

 During the conservation missions by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, within the framework of UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust, hundreds of small fragments of bark Buddhist manuscripts were found in 2003 from caves in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. They are quite invaluable as important historical witnesses of the Buddhism that once flourished in Bamiyan. The fragments are mostly as small as a few centimetres in width and length. Many are folded, making the texts illegible and creating much difficulty for the viewers. In that sense, they are not in a form that would allow displaying them to the general public.
 In November 2007, with the financial aid of the Sumitomo Foundation, 543 pieces (at initial counting) of the fragments of Bamiyan bark manuscripts were brought to Japan for conservation treatment. On this occasion, a local conservator from Kabul National Museum was also invited to the Institute, and arrived with the fragments, for conservation training. A number of fragments were safely flattened and mounted in special frames, and then returned to Afghanistan safely with the aid of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Japan.


Cooperation for the establishment of the Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM-CC) in Cairo

Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM-CC) under construction

 In cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been providing technical advice to the GEM-CC. In November and December, members of the Center visited the GEM-CC to discuss future strategies for the project. For the time being, the Center is providing necessary technical and machinery support prior to the grand opening of the GEM-CC (April 2008) after which time it will hold some training activities, such as workshops on particular subjects in conservation.


International Symposium for the Serial Nomination for the Silk Roads to the World Heritage

International Symposium for the Serial Nomination for the Silk Roads to the World Heritage

 On 30 and 31 October, 2007, an international symposium was organized by ICOMOS, UNESCO, Shaanxi Municipal People’s Government and Xi’an Municipal People’s Government. It aimed to introduce the cultural nature of the Silk Roads and to supply instruction and technical consultation for nomination of the Silk Roads to the World Heritage. The east end of this vast area targeted for this nomination was considered as Xi’an at this point; unfortunately, Nara was excluded from this Silk Roads in the nomination. From the side of Japan, it is considered quite essential to keep discussing, in the nomination process, the geographical and historical definitions of the Silk Roads.


Plenary Session of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor

 Plenary Session of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor was held at Siem Reap on November 28. 2007. Two meetings of the Committee are held annually. At the Technical Session, reports are made about the activities of various organizations engaged in the conservation and investigation of the site. The Plenary Session, however, is an occasion for holding more comprehensive discussions. At this meeting, oral presentations were limited to some of the large-scale projects. Most of the organizations submitted written reports of their activities and the proceedings of these reports were distributed.
 Although the target of this Committee is the Angkor Site, Preah Vihear site was frequently the topic of discussion at this meeting. This site is located on the border of Thailand and is an important site whose registration on next year’s World Heritage List is being considered. It has been recently decided that Thailand will cooperate in the preservation and maintenance of this site, and several other nations in the Committee are debating about setting up an International Co-ordinating Committee for this purpose. Under such circumstances nations concerned expressed their intent to participate. Although nothing concrete has been decided about Japan’s role, it is certain to be important and discussions will have to be made as to what can be done.


Attending the International Symposium of the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies

Photograph with the major members of the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies

 The International Symposium of the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies was held on November 10 at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul. The theme of this symposium was “Dunhuang Studies.” Jacques Giès of Musée Guimet, Susan Whitfield of The British Library and Samosyu Kira of The State Hermitage Museum reported on the mural paintings of Dunhuang, study of the Dunhuang documents and archives; Li Zuixiong of Dunhuang Academy spoke about the conservation and scientific study of the Dunhuang mural paintings; Okada Ken of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation presented a report on the Japan-China cooperative activities for the conservation of the Dunhuang mural paintings. The meeting, thus, was an extremely significant one that comprehensively covered the Dunhuang studies and the activities of experts throughout the world on related projects. Although the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies is a relatively young association which was established 14 years ago, its members include researchers who have received degrees in Japan, China and the United States and are very positive in their approach to research Collaboration with Korea, as in other conferences like the 2007 International Symposium on Conservation of Cultural Heritage in East Asia, which was held at the beginning of November at the National Museum of Korea,and the Workshop for Paper Conservation in East Asia, which is held every year and is attended by experts from Japan, China and Korea, will increase in importance from all aspects of the study and protection of cultural heritage.

/

“Paper Cultural Properties,” a training course in the program for capacity building along the Silk Road project

Practical guidance by Sakata Masayuki (The Association for Conservation of National Treasures)

 In the capacity building program held at the China National Institute of Cultural Property in Beijing, the participants began to attend classes on practical training from November. They studied under the guidance of Japanese and Chinese experts. Classes on the methods of conservation and storage of documents using recently developed neutral paper were quite unexpected but interesting for students who had expected a more restoration oriented training. Since there is some difference in the traditional restoration techniques of Japan and China, Japanese experts are continually faced with the question of how they can contribute to the conservation of “Chinese paper cultural properties.” However, rather than merely giving guidance to students, promotion of exchange of techniques between experts of the two countries is expected through such efforts.

/

Conservation training program for Iraqi experts (2)

Cleaning an object after vacuum freeze drying method

 The four Iraq experts who arrived on 19 September, 2007 received several basic lectures on conservation science and practical training on conservation of wooden objects at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. They stayed in Tokyo from the end of September to the end of October and joined the practical training of conservation for waterlogged wooden objects from 29 October to 9 November at Shizuoka Research Institute for Buried Cultural Heritage.
 At Shizuoka, the Iraqi experts experienced lifting fragile wooden objects during archaeological excavations at Sumpu site. They also studied conservation methods such as stabilization using PEG and vacuum freeze-dry method, cleaning, adhesion, and filling at the Shimizu Office of the Shizuoka Research Institute for Buried Cultural Heritage.
 They will receive practical training on using various conservation equipments at the Institute in Nara. At the end of this training program, they will conduct a presentation of their works on 10 December, 2007 in Tokyo.


The third mission of Japan-Indonesia Cooperation Safeguarding Project of Prambanan World Heritage Site, a part of the“Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage” of the Agency for Cultural Affairs

Investigation in the upper part of Garuda Temple where dismantling has started
Members of the National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, and the Archaeological Heritage Preservation Office Yogyakarta

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation cooperates in the project to support the rehabilitation of the Prambanan Temple Compounds, a World Heritage Site, that was damaged in the earthquake which struck central Java on May 27, 2006. With the completion of the construction of the scaffolding for Garuda Temple, undertaken by Grant Assistance for Cultural Grassroots Projects fund of Japan, the third mission was dispatched from October 22 to November 4, 2007. In this mission investigation centered on Garuda Temple, whose partial dismantlement has begun. In addition to checking the condition of damage of the upper part of the temple and the inner structure, documents related to past restorations were collected and studied, and interviews were held. Hangsa Temple, which is similar in structure to Garuda Temple, was chosen and monitoring by seismometer was started to elucidate the dynamic characteristics of the structure. These investigations were undertaken with the cooperation of the Archaeological Heritage Preservation Office Yogyakarta and Gadjah Mada University.
 Now geometrically modified images of each of the sides of the temple are used to indicate the condition of damage of each stone, the method of restoration and areas of dismantlement in order to prepare a detailed plan for restoration that is within a standard which will make the estimation of the cost possible. Methods for structural reinforcement based on the results of analysis of the structural characteristics of the temple will be examined and a plan for restoration will be made during this fiscal year.


“Paper Cultural Properties,” a training course in the program for capacity building along the Silk Road project, begins

Lecture by Shimizu Shin'ichi, Director of the Center, on the theory of the protection of cultural properties
Introduction to Japanese paper by Oka Iwataro (The Association for Conservation of National Treasures)

 The joint program to train Chinese personnel engaged in the protection of cultural properties along the Silk Road was held from October 8 to December 27 at the China National Institute of Cultural Property in Beijing. In the “Paper Cultural Properties” course, the training course for the second half of 2007, experts on paper cultural properties from China and Japan gave lectures. From Japan 12 experts went to China for 10 weeks to give lectures on various topics related to paper cultural properties and guidance on practical work. There were lectures not only on the traditional materials and techniques of paper cultural properties as have been clarified by modern science but also on new western methods of conservation. Efforts were made so that the 12 participants from areas along the Silk Road might acquire much knowledge and experience.

/

Workshop on conservation techniques for stone cultural properties (Xi’an)

Field study at the East Gate of Qianling Tomb

 In the conservation project for the stone statues of the tombs of Tang dynasty, which has been conducted jointly with the Xi’an Centre for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage since 2004, a workshop is held once a year to which Chinese and Japanese experts come. This year, the fourth workshop was held at Xian from October 11 to 13. From China, researchers in charge of stone cultural properties from the Longmen Academy, with whom the Center also holds joint study on the protection of cultural heritage, participated. With the termination of projects with the institutes at Xi’an and Longmen next fiscal year close by and the restoration work entering its final stage, case studies were presented and discussions were held on the theme of “conservation techniques for stone cultural properties: methods for the conservation and exhibition of stone cultural properties – cosmetic treatment for the joints and the surface in the process of conservation” Mr. Ebisawa Takao (The Ethos), who is well experienced in the restoration of stone cultural properties, was asked to join from Japan.

/

Japan-Indo Cooperative Research Project for Painting Techniques, Constituent Materials and Conservation of the Mural Paintings of the Ajanta Caves in the framework of the “Networking Core Centres for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage” (funded by the Agency for Cultural Affairs)

Indian conservation specialist explains the blackened mural paintings due to darkened shellac varnish.
Members of the preliminary mission of the Institute and ASI Ajanta Field Office.

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo plans to start a cooperative project with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) aiming to share and exchange knowledge, expertise and experience on materials and techniques of conservation at Ajanta site. Prior to the project, a preliminary mission was sent to India between 25 September and 3 October 2007 in order to establish a project working plan at Ajanta and to create a common basis with ASI as a counterpart.
 The Ajanta Caves are located in a great arc cut by the curving course of the Waghora River. Approximately 30 caves were cut in the basalt cliff as Buddhist monasteries and decorated with exclusive paintings and sculptures. Most of the paintings show yellowish tint colour due to past restoration works, thick shellac varnish coatings, by Italian and Indian conservators. Various severe biological causes such as bat excrements and microbiological growth make the paintings invisible.
 This cooperative project aims to provide information concerning the manufacturing techniques and technologies as well as to challenge the establishment of suitable conservation methods and materials to these particular conservation problems at the Ajanta site.


Conservation training program for Iraqi experts

Invited Iraqi experts

 Since 2004, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been conducting a training program for Iraqi experts to rehabilitate the conservation laboratories of the Iraq National Museum (INM). This program is a part of the Cooperation Project for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in West Asia and the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust project, Restoration of the Laboratories of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad.
 In 2007, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has invited four experts between 19 September and 12 December 2007: Ms Faeza M. Jumaah (INM), Ms Taghreed H. Khudhair (INM), Mr Sinan A. Yunis (Nineveh Museum), and Mr Jamal A. A. Ismael (Nasiriyah Museum). The program focuses on the conservation of wooden objects and is conducted at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, the Institute in Nara and Shizuoka Research Institute for Buried Cultural Heritage.


Research for the “Expert Meeting on Cultural Heritage” in Central Asia

Interview on the public system for the protection of cultural heritage in Tashkent

 As a part of the study on the public system for the protection of cultural heritage, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is conducting research on the Central Asia region this year. From 9th to 16th September, a mission was dispatched to Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Almaty (Kazakhstan) to conduct survey of the current situation of the public system purposing for the protection of cultural heritages in Central Asia and to prepare for the expert meeting on cultural heritage which is planned to be held in Central Asia next March. During the mission, meetings with representatives from local authorities and UNESCO were held in order to collect relevant information and conduct needs assessment.
 After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, independent Central Asian countries have been facing a wide range of issues, from public system to field work, on conservation of cultural heritage. Through this research, common concerns on cultural heritage preservation within the area have been disclosed, such as conservation and management of archaeological sites, conservation environment of artifacts and human capacity development. Moreover, it was agreed that, under cooperation with those countries, an international workshop with experts from Japan and Central Asian countries would be held in order to share information and to transfer technology.


On-site investigation in Thailand and Cambodia

Assessment on the effect of conservation treatment of a brick structure (Ayutthaya site, Thailand)

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducted joint research in Thailand and Cambodia with the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture of Thailand and the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) respectively.
 In Thailand, on-site investigations were conducted at Sukhothai and Ayutthaya sites. At Sukhothai site, measures against moss and algae growing on the great Buddha of Wat Sri Chum were studied and experimented; at Ayutthaya, investigation was made to assess conservation treatment executed three years ago on a brick structure.
 In Cambodia, investigation of vegetation growing on the surface of stone cultural heritage was conducted at Ta Nei site. Sandstone in the vicinity of Mt. Kulen, the quarry from where the stones of Angkor site were obtained, is also being investigated.


Completion of the four-month dispatch of trainees to Dunhuang

The trainees speaking about their training, at Dunhuang Academy

 In the 5th phase of the joint research and project between the Dunhuang Academy and the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, the dispatch of Japanese personnel to Dunhuang to receive training was realized for the first time. The aim of this program is to provide training at the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes in order to develop personnel who will actively participate in the conservation of mural paintings overseas in response to increasing demands for international cooperation in this field. In the program, which officially started this fiscal year, three graduate students spent 4 months from May 13 receiving training at Dunhuang: Sato Yuki, a doctoral student at the Graduate School of the Tokyo University of the Arts (painting conservation); Fujisawa Akira, also a doctorate student at the same university (conservation science); and Suemori Kaoru, a doctorate student at the Graduate School of the University of Tsukuba (cultural heritage management, art history). For four long months, they stayed at a housing facility at Dunhuang and received comprehensive training related to the conservation of mural paintings including such matters as analytical studies, investigation of the conditions of deterioration, practical work in conservation treatment, reproduction of mural structures and paintings, while making the most of each one’s knowledge in his/her field and filling in where others lacked. The valuable experience at the site is a sign of the success of the training program itself, but at the same time it is hoped that for each of the three trainees the experience will bring great influence on their future studies and work. The three trainees were also able to nurture deep friendship with many of their peer researchers and specialists at the Dunhuang Academy. This training program is scheduled to be held for three more years.

/

Preservation of the Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepa, Tajikisitan

UNESCO International Steering Committee Meeting in Tajikistan

 The 3rd International Steering Committee Meeting of the “Preservation of the Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepa, Tajikisitan” funded by UNESCO/Japanese Funds -in-Trust was held on 28 August. The project aims at preserving the Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepa, a building complex of earthen structures constructed with pisé or bricks. The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has participated in this project since 2005 and conducted archaeological investigation, such as sounding for identification of the extent of the site, and cleaning of debris at the site.
 In several expert meetings and the International Steering Committee Meeting the future direction of the project was discussed, based on the working activities conducted so far and the present state of the site. Several points for improvement regarding the preservation of the earthen wall were pointed out and will be examined further. Installation of a shelter for the protection of a stupa was abandoned and covering the stupa with mud plaster was debated instead. Tajikistan authorities expressed their appreciation for activities conducted by Japanese experts and requested the continuation of the work. In response to this request, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation hopes to cooperate in the archaeological work that should be carried out prior to the preservation of the site.


Condition survey of mural paintings in Tajikistan

Conditions of mural pieces which were detached during the USSR period; storage room of the National Museum of Antiquities, Tajikistan.
In situ condition survey of murals from Penjikent at the National Museum of Antiquities, Tajikistan.

 Preliminary condition survey of mural painting pieces which are currently stored at the National Museum of Antiquities, Tajikistan took place between 23rd and 30th August in a framework of the “Cooperation Project for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in West Asia.” In Tajikistan, most of the conservation activities were initiated by Russian conservators until 1991. However, since the dissolution of USSR, major issues of Tajikistan’s conservation have been related to lack of human and monetary resources for research and conservation. Furthermore, since most of the conservation methods and techniques are based on those of the Russians, which are not up to the current methods in conservation, urgent technical support from foreign countries such as Japan and Europe is required.
 The National Museum of Antiquities, Tajikistan owns outstanding mural paintings from Penjikent, Shafristan and other sites depicted by Sogdians who are known as active merchants of the 6-8th centuries AD. In its storages, some hundreds of detached paintings from archaeological sites have been piled and left for over 40 years without any proper treatment. Especially after USSR’s dissolution, all excavated/detached pieces have been left untreated within Tajikistan. These detached paintings reflect an ethical issue, above all, against such thoughtless measure of ‘detachment’ from their original locations as well as technical issues such as the darkening of synthetic polymers that were used as consolidants in the past.
 In order to protect and preserve such important murals, urgent support is required in the training of local conservators with expertises in the field of conservation.


Progress report on the joint research of Cave 285 of the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes

Analysis using portable x-ray fluorescence

 A great number of mural paintings remain at the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes. However, those that can be observed today with the naked eye have deteriorated significantly due to the passage of time. Compared with their condition at the time of their creation more than one thousand years ago, these paintings have changed greatly – colors have changed or faded and pigments have become detached and lost. Conservation of these paintings involves the elucidation of the mechanism of their deterioration and the treatment of the paintings to prevent further deterioration. Determining the original methods and materials as well as the factors that led to their present condition is essential in considering the method of their conservation. At the same time, it is also quite important in reviving the value of the paintings. Only when both are fulfilled can it be said that cultural property is truly protected. In the Japan-China joint research project, comprehensive study of these paintings is conducted. This includes observation by normal light, raking light, infrared ray and ultraviolet fluorescence photography; detailed non-destructive analysis using digital microscope, portable x-ray fluorescence and Raman spectroscope; detailed analysis of the techniques and materials as well as the condition of deterioration by micro-sampling; and detailed observation of the condition of deterioration by conservation specialists. Through such a study, the use of a great amount of organic coloring materials and the special condition of the deterioration of the mural paintings of Cave 285 (first half of the 6th century), which were not known until now, are beginning to be clarified. Moreover, radioactive carbon (14C) dating of the stone chamber and provenance study of the lead-based pigment by lead isotope ratio analysis are conducted in an attempt to do research with a large area of the Silk Road in view.

/

to page top