A team of experts was dispatched to Nepal on a further four occasions up to March 2016 for the Investigation of Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal, which was introduced in the last issue and was conducted under the Project for International Contribution to Cultural Heritage Protection, which was commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan. The experts engaged mainly in the following activities.
Survey on Building Damage
The experts checked the state of damage to traditional buildings centering on Dubar Square, which is part of the World Heritage site of Kathmandu Valley. Aganchen Temple (partially damaged) and the Shiva Temple (totally collapsed), both located inside Hanumandhoka Palace, were selected as the target of detailed surveys.
Survey on Traditional Building Techniques
Among others, a survey was conducted on the distinctive traditional building techniques of the Newar culture, including building elements that had been revealed for the first time by the damage, such as the timber pillars concealed inside brick walls. Regarding Aganchen Temple in particular, the experts conducted measurement surveys, checked the state of damage in detail, and studied past alterations in order to assess the present situation and assist the restoration.
Building Structure Survey
The experts conducted surveys mainly on two multi-tiered tower-style temples in the square, including measurements using a 3D laser scanner, a detailed investigation of the state of damage, and measurement of their vibration characteristics. Using a model compiled on the basis of the results, they carried out a structural analysis and examined the damage mechanism and other issues.
Emergency Protection Work
The team of experts sorted, stored, and documented architectural members retrieved from the collapsed building of the Shiva Temple and offered advice on work methods to personnel of Nepal’s Department of Archeology and other organizations. All of the components were arranged by type and stored in temporary shelters, and a survey was conducted on the state of damage to each part as well as on past modification of the building.
Survey on Historical Settlement
The experts also visited the village of Khokana, which has an old townscape and is registered on the World Heritage Tentative List, investigating the state of damage, the transformation of housing up to the present, and the village’s intangible heritage value such as those of various cultural spaces. Here they carried out the survey in collaboration and cooperation with a local residents’ organization that is making strenuous effort both to reconstruct lives as quickly as possible and preserve the historical townscape.
Meanwhile, three Nepalese engaged in the preservation of cultural heritage in the Nepalese government and the UNESCO office in Nepal were invited to Japan in February 2016 for the seminar on Cultural Heritage Damaged by the 2015 Nepal Gorkha Earthquake, which was held at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo on February 5th. At the seminar, the three Nepalese invitees gave presentations on the situation after the earthquake, restoration measures, and other issues, and then the Japanese experts participating in the project gave interim reports on survey results in their respective special fields. As difficult conditions continued to prevail in Nepal, the two sides were able to share the latest information and, through discussions, exchange opinions on how to respond to damaged cultural heritage and so on.
Through such cooperation, we hope to continue providing appropriate assistance to Nepal’s efforts to restore damaged cultural heritage and transferring Japanese technology, such as survey methods for the repair of cultural properties.