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


Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part VI)

Site visit by members of the Ad Hoc Experts Group of ICC
Removal of scattered stone blocks with the mobile crane

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) provides technical support to the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) for the conservation and sustainable development of the ruins of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. TNRICP dispatched a total of five staff members to Cambodia from May 19th to June 29th, 2019 in order to carry out preparatory work before the examination of the restoration plan for the East Gate by the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) and the start of the restoration work.
 APSARA and TNRICP submitted the plan for dismantling the structures to the ICC technical session, which was held on June 11th and 12th. As a result of careful deliberation including a site visit by the three members of the Ad Hoc Experts Group, the plan was adopted as proposed with minor corrections. As necessary preparation for the restoration work, we cleaned out and organized scattered stone blocks around the East Gate, and also carried out excavations for drainage route examination.
 We recorded and numbered scattered stone blocks and moved them out of the way of the restoration work. Thanks to the mobile crane provided by Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (NNRICP), which is restoring the Western Prasat Top Site, we were able to move the stone blocks in a short time.
 During the excavation we tried to clarify the difference in the old ground surface level between the northeast end of the Cruciform Terrace and around the East Gate, in order to examine the natural drainage route from the East Gate area. The elevation around the East Gate is lower than the surrounding area, and it is feared that rainwater may stagnate there, which is why we plan to set up a drainage channel to the North Moat for future maintenance. In addition, we found laterite stone paving which is presumed to be a part of the approach that connects the Cruciform Terrace and the East Gate. It is expected that further excavations will provide clearer information.


International Symposium: “Transmitting the Heritage of the Mesopotamian Civilization to Future Generations: The Challenge of Restoring Post-War Iraq through History Education”

All speakers

 On Saturday April 13th, 2019, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, in cooperation with the Japanese-Iraqi Institute for Archaeological Education of Mesopotamia (JIAEM), convened the international symposium titled “Transmitting the Heritage of the Mesopotamian Civilization to Future Generations: The Challenge of Restoring Post-War Iraq through History Education.”
 The purpose of this symposium was to help in the understanding of what kind of specific support is sought in the fields of history education and cultural heritage preservation in Iraq, a country that has begun moving toward restoration.
 JIAEM representative Dr. Tatsundo KOIZUMI reported on the state of the ruins of the Mesopotamian civilization when he visited Iraq in the spring of 2017. For his part, Masashi ABE from Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties talked about the training of Iraqi specialists for conservation that the Institute has been conducting for many years. Dr. Hiromichi OGUCHI of Kokushikan University, on the other hand, spoke about the Iraq archaeological survey being conducted by his university since 1969. Dr. Mariya MASUBUCHI of the Kyoto University of Art and Design and Mr. Tomoyuki SAKAKIBARA of JIAEM gave presentations on the importance of manpower training in the field of cultural heritage preservation and on the state of archaeological educational support, respectively.
 Guest speakers included Professor Emad Dawood and Professor Naeem Alshwaly, who are both pedagogy experts from the University of Thi-Qar located in Nasiriyah, the birthplace of the Mesopotamian civilization. They gave lectures on the understanding of local students and teachers in Iraq toward the heritage of the Mesopotamian civilization and what kind of support is being sought from Japan.
 Finally, worth noting is how the attendees, including the guest speakers, engaged in a lively discussion about how Japan should be involved in Iraq’s cultural heritage preservation, history education, and manpower training. We hope that this symposium will serve as a first step toward international cooperation to restore post-war Iraq.


Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part V)

Survey of the east gate using a laser scanner
Topographical survey using a total station

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties provides technical support to the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) to conserve and manage the ruins of the Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. The fifth field study was conducted at this site from March 8th to 17th, 2019.
 Three-dimensional (3D) measurements of the east gate were recorded and a topographical survey around the site was conducted with the assistance of Associate Professor Takeshi OISHI’s laboratory in the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo, and survey expert Mr. Kenji UCHIDA, in association with the APSARA staff.
 Although the east gate is the original main gate of this temple, it is away from the current traffic line for tourists. As many of the constituent building materials are unstable, appropriate repairs must be made from the perspective of the exhibition. The measurements were performed using a laser scanner and a drone equipped with a camera to capture detailed 3D recordings of the gate as well as the position and shape of stones scattered in the vicinity. Based on the information obtained, the state of deformation and damage will be comprehensively grasped and applied to consider specific repair plans.
 A topographical survey was conducted using a total station mainly on the southeastern area of the site, which had not been surveyed thus far. Using the collected data, a detailed topographical map of the overall site can be created, which will contribute to maintaining the temple area and can be applied to the surrounding temples over a wide range.


Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part IV)

Unearthed west wing of the terrace structure

 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) for the project to conserve and manage Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia. From August 20th to October 7th, 2018, the fourth archaeological investigation was conducted.
 With the cooperation of staff from APSARA, the archaeological investigation was carried out at the terrace structure on the upper surface of the embankment of the East Baray reservoir discovered thus far. In addition, the approach, which is expected to have existed between the terrace structure and the east gate of the temple, was also investigated.
 As for the terrace structure, because of the extension of the investigation area to the west, the west wing, which measures 6 meters east to west and 2.5 meters north to south, was unearthed; this was in addition to the east wing discovered last year. Although the upper stone materials were missing, the foundation existed in all circumferences. This discovery resulted in clarifying the fact that the structure is 18 meters in scale from east to west. According to a parallel case, the original terrace structure was assumed to be cross-shaped along with the north and south wings, which are still unexcavated. Further excavation should provide evidence that backs up this speculation.
 As for the approach, we attempted to clarify its width and the condition of its sides by further expanding the 2017 investigation area. This resulted in revealing the fact that the approach is approximately 11 meters in width and that certain facilities might have existed on both sides, which are around 50 centimeters higher than the approach.
 We are planning to prepare explanation boards for tourists visiting the site. In parallel with the academic investigation, we will also proceed with establishing a management system for access and utilization.


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.

/ Hiroo KANSHA)

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.


to page top