|■Tokyo National Research
Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation
|■Department of Art Research,
Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for
International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible
Practical training on measuring the surface temperature of rock using an infrared thermometer (Serven Khaalga site)
Practical training on surface peel of stratum by using past excavation pit (Rashaan Khad site)
As part of an exchange program of Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we held an on-site workshop on the conservation of the stone monuments and rock paintings, in late August intended for the experts at the Mongolian cultural heritage center, together with the experts at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Nara. At the workshop conducted at Serven Khaalga and Rashaan Khad in the Khentii Aimag (province), following last year, we conducted a series of surveys on the stone material, deterioration state and ambient environment which were necessary to examine the conservation method of stone cultural properties. While we worked with the Mongolian experts, we conveyed the specific procedures to them. Along with the survey, we conducted a practical training on the surface peel of the stratum upon request from the Mongolian experts. It was said that it was the first time such training had taken place in the country. We will continue to conduct conservation treatment experiments and a training on the method for evaluating it in Japan, Mongolia, etc. Going forward we will try to gain a better understanding of target sites while working in cooperation with the domestic and overseas organizations, and investigate more appropriate methods of conservation.
Member countries’ chairperson seats at the Meeting of World Heritage Committee
The 34th session of the World Heritage Committee was held from July 26 to August 3 in Brasilia, a city that is commemorating its 50th anniversary this year. (Currently, Japan is an observer, not a committee member.) It was conspicuous in this session that despite the recommendations of the advisory bodies for enquiring about information or putting off nominations in the World Heritage List, many cases were decided to be nominated. Some committee members stated that the professional opinions of advisory bodies should be respected and the reliability of the List should be taken into account. However, we got the impression that many countries had complaints and were dissatisfied with the opacity of advisory bodies and the decrease in nomination recommendation rate. Meanwhile, the conservation state report exposed multiple territorial disputes in lands that contain heritage sites listed as World Heritages.
It can be said that the system related to World Heritage is approaching a turning point regardless of whether the heritages are already listed or newly nominated. We believe Japan has a lot to do toward the 40th anniversary, in two years’ time, of the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, such as proposing solutions.
The above meeting (ICC) was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, from June 8 to 9, and activity reports were given by specialists in various fields from Cambodia and other countries who work around the Angkor Site. Our Institute reported on its investigation on the influence of plants on stones at the Ta Nei site.
Recently, ICC has been concerned with how the ambient environment and plants are related to the deterioration of stones, but they are understood in an extremely simple manner, i.e., the idea that “no trees at site must be cut down since that will cause the stones to deteriorate”. A rush to obtain results may lead to conservation processes being conducted based only on the track records of researchers’ home countries. We ended the presentation by pointing out the need to conduct long-term investigations at local sites for such an issue that is closely associated with the environment, and gain the understanding of teams from other countries that are conducting similar investigations.
Exchange of information with the persons involved in the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO and the Director of Cultural Heritage Conservation Center
The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is conducting a training session on how to restore wooden buildings and conserve stone monuments and rock art in Mongolia. This is in the framework of the exchange program of Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage, and being coordinated with the relevant organizations and specialists. It has been also made possible thanks to the cooperation of the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage. From March 16 to 18, we reported the results of the training and related investigations conducted last summer and discussed the policy for activities in the following year, at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Cultural Heritage Conservation Center in Ulan Bator, the capital of the partner country, Mongolia. We felt those in Mongolia were satisfied with the results, and sensed their high expectations for the specific proposal for future activities. In the relevant investigation, we interviewed the chairperson of the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO and asked him about the activities being conducted for world heritages, such as the policy for protecting cultural heritages already listed and the cultural heritages whose listing is to be applied for. The Amarbayasgalant Monastery, where we are conducting the training for restoration of wooden buildings, is registered in a tentative list of world heritages, and future developments are expected.
Mural using anoa and the human hand as a motif (Sumpang Bita Cave)
As part of joint research on site monitoring, we executed a field survey on cave mural paintings in southern Sulawesi with the Borobudur Heritage Conservation Office in Indonesia from January 24 to 30. There are over 100 limestone caves in southern Sulawesi, and several of the caves have mural paintings which were presumably drawn 3,000 to 1,000 years ago. Many of the murals were created by blowing red colorant over the human hand as it was pressed to the wall, with motifs of regional unique animals such as babyrousa (a species of wild boar),anoa (a species of cattle), fish, birds, and boats appearing. On the murals, phenomena such as changes in rock composition through water leaching, surface recrystallization and the detachment of rocky surfaces were visible, and it is conceivable that changes in the environment, such as the cutting down of peripheral trees, caused the murals to deteriorate. We visited eight caves at the local site, and discussed the causes of deterioration and measures for future conservation with the conservation specialists in Indonesia. We plan to investigate monitoring techniques in order to establish appropriate conservation plans jointly with the Borobudur Heritage Conservation Office and the local Makassar Cultural Heritage Conservation Center.
The Great Buddha of Wat Sri Chum
The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is conducting joint research on conservation of Thai cultural heritage together with the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture of Thailand. We executed a joint on-site investigation from September 14 to 16. Wat Sri Chum of the Sukhothai ruins has a great Buddha statue taller than 15m, the core of which was made from bricks and the surface finished with plaster. The entire surface of the Buddha statue had been covered with moss and algae, but because of the water repellent treatment applied 11 years ago, the Buddha statue was kept clean for awhile. However, since dirt due to algae, etc. has been somewhat noticeable recent years, some countermeasures have been investigated through observation of the Buddha statue, experiments by sample installation, and micrometeorological observation. In addition to these activities in Wat Sri Chum, we have observed the surrounding ruins, and specifically reviewed the advantages and disadvantages in cases where a chamber was installed in the remains.
Counting of the votes for and against the registration of the works of Le Corbusi
A scene of the discussion. Chairperson is in the center of the screen, content of discussions appears in English and French
The 33rd World Heritage Committee was held in Seville, Spain from June 22 to 30. Discussions were held every day in temperatures of over 40ºC until 23:00 at an exhibition hall where sometimes wild birds wandered into and flew about. From Japan, participants included members of related government ministries and research organizations as well as local officials aiming to have their local heritage registered in the World Heritage List: Two members including myself attended from our Institute.
Thirteen heritage sites (2 natural and 11 cultural) were registered in the World Heritage List, and one heritage site was deleted, so the list now includes 890 heritage sites. A high regard for human-rights related heritage was seen, as seen in the registration of heritage sites related to the slave trade. Although the final decision was made by information survey, in terms of international collaboration it seemed that nominating multiple heritage sites spanning multiple countries as one heritage site was recommended, as seen in the works of Le Corbusier, including those in the National Museum of Western Art.
It was also decided to remove the Dresden Elbe Valley from the list, because immediately after it was registered, a bridge crossing the valley was planned that endangered world heritage. The bridge was not cancelled, and no specific alternative plan was proposed from Germany. This was the second time a site was deleted the list, but the first time such deletion went against the wishes of the site’s home country.
Some of the discussions scheduled for this meeting were postponed to next year due to the numerous discussions about secret voting and repetitive speeches, and it seemed that there were problems in the debate proceedings. We again recognized the importance of diplomacy in the registration of world heritage through seeing changes in discussion content a conflict between two countries that have more wide-reaching issues.
Investigation at Rashaan Khad site
Workshop for protection of cultural heritage in Japan and Mongolia
From September 3 to 13, 2008, we visited Mongolia to conclude the agreement on cooperation for the conservation of cultural heritage of Mongolia with the Department of Culture and Art, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, hold a workshop as part of an exchange program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and survey the partner country.
From September 5 to 8, we visited sites in Khentii Aimag (province), in the conservation of which Japan was asked to cooperate. At Rashaan Khad site, pictures of animals and characters of various languages are found on rocks dating from the Paleolithic era to the time of the Mongol Empire. Serven Khaalga site is a memorial of the war in which Genghis Khan participated. The present condition of these sites, valuable sites that may be called national treasures of Mongolia, were documented by photographs and GPS and the state of their deterioration was investigated.
On September 9, the Agreement between the Department of Culture and Art, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Mongolia and the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, Japan on Cooperation on the Conservation of Cultural Heritage of Mongolia was signed. The agreement covers activities such as the implementation of joint projects, cooperation in research and development, capacity development and holding of workshops, all with focus on the protection of cultural heritage. It emphasizes cooperation in the protection of both tangible and intangible cultural heritages while respecting the positions of both organizations.
On September 10 and 11, a workshop entitled “Protection of Tangible/Intangible Cultural Heritage in Mongolia and Japan” was held. This was the first of the joint projects between the two organizations and was supported by the Japanese embassy in Mongolia. The topic of the workshop was decided by the government of Mongolia in December 2007 for the purpose of improving laws related to the conservation of cultural heritage, protecting historical and cultural monuments, and promoting economic contribution by developing tourism. Fourteen people from Japan and twenty from Mongolia participated in the workshop. Four presentations each were given by Japan and Mongolia, followed by a question and answer session.
Inspection of the Amarbayasgalant Khiid
In preparations for the exchange program that has just started this fiscal year, we visited Mongolia from June 9 to 14. As part of this program, together with the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Institute, workshops related to the framework for the conservation of cultural properties including organizations and laws are being planned as are training programs to foster experts for the Center for Cultural Heritage of Mongolia under the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia. The meeting with the Director of the Department of Culture and Art of the Ministry was filled with a friendly atmosphere, and the Director readily agreed to the conclusion of a statement and memorandum of mutual agreement with the Institute upon inaugurating the project.
We also inspected the Amarbayasgalant Khiid, one of the largest wooden structures of Mongolia located approximately 350 km north of Ulan Bator, the capital. This temple underwent investigations and restoration projects by Japanese experts dispatched through UNESCO from the early 1970’s to the mid-1980’s. However, it is poorly managed at present and an expert of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science told us that immediate actions were required. We confirmed that there was not only damage to the color of the building and its roof but also that the structure of the temple was suffering deterioration. Through the discussionｓ at this meeting, the two countries have come to hold the wish to include building-related contents in the training program for experts that will be conducted from the next fiscal year on.
After our visit, we learned that demonstrations expressing dissatisfaction with the result of the election which had been held at the end of June led to a riot in Ulan Bator and that the mobs had set fire to the Center for Cultural Heritage, the counterpart of our Institute, resulting in damage to the building, equipment and cultural properties. We express our heartfelt sympathy to the staff of the Center. At the same time, we are seeking a possibility of emergency response by sharing information with the embassy and experts in related fields.
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.
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.
Banteai Srey site visited by many tourists
The 16th Technical Committee of the ICC was held at Siem Reap, Cambodia on July 5 and 6. This meeting serves as an opportunity for various organizations involved in the protection of the Angkor monuments to present reports on their work. The Institute presented the results of studies to identify the microorganisms growing on the stones of Ta Nei site and to discuss the difference in the percentage of the uncovered sky (crown density) and the amount of microorganisms on the walls.
One of the themes discussed at this meeting was “sustainable development.” As the number of tourists from outside Cambodia exceeded 670,000 in 2005, appropriate procurement of tour routes and facilities is an issue to be considered not only for the protection of the sites but also for the safety of the tourists. Pollution of the Siem Reap River due to the lack of a proper sewage system and disposal of garbage has been reported. These are problems that arise when too much attention is given only to tourism, and the indispensability of international cooperation from nations that have much experience in this field was felt.