|■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
A scene from the ICC meeting
Dynamic cone penetration testing
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been providing 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 six members including outside experts to Cambodia from December 1st to 21st, 2019 in order to report the progress of dismantling the East Gate of the temple at the meeting of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC), and investigate causes of uneven subsidence at the basement and floor of the East Gate.
At theICC meeting at the APSARA headquarters office on December 10th and 11th, we delivered a report in association with Mr. Sea Sophearun from APSARA. Approval was granted to proceed with the conservation work further while utilizing the results of the dismantling survey, including a site visit by four specialized members of the committee. We also collected the latest information by exchanging opinions with persons in charge from APSARA, as well as experts within and outside Cambodia.
To investigate the causes of uneven subsidence, we analyzed the old ground surface, and dug the southeast and northwest internal corners till the bottom of the stone foundation to check the condition of the East Gate base. This confirmed that the East Gate basement was made of roughly formed sandstone exterior, laterite groundwork, and internal landfill. It was also determined that the entire basement structure was built on a manmade soil layer using fine grains of sand. This sand layer seems to be the one that lends stability to the foundation on which the building was constructed. Similar techniques can been observed at other temple ruins in Angkor.
After partially removing the floor pavement stone blocks, the bearing capacity of the foundation landfill was investigated with a dynamic cone penetration testing device in cooperation with Professor Dr. KUWANO Reiko from the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo. The testing disclosed that the fragility of laterite used as base layer of the floor pavement and the strength of foundation landfill differed by location. This could be one of the causes of uneven subsidence.
Based on the outcomes of this survey, we will examine how to improve the basement structure to ensure complete restoration of the East Gate.
Dyeing with natural dyes
Analysis of a material possessed by the Museum of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties organized a 10-day workshop beginning October 7th, 2019, on the conservation of historic textiles, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport in the Republic of Armenia. Based on the cooperation agreement on cultural heritage protection established between the Institute and the Ministry of Culture (at that time) in 2014, this was the third workshop to be organized since 2017.
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. ISHII Mie, Associate Professor of the Faculty of Art and Regional Design at Saga University, and Ms. YOKOYAMA Midori, expert in embroidery, serving as lecturers like in the previous year. Fourteen trainees from seven institutions, such as museums and galleries in Armenia, attended the workshop. At the Center, silk and cotton cloth was dyed with natural dyes such as indigo and madder while preparing standard samples to identify the dyes actually used in historic textiles. At the Museum, the historic materials in its possession were analyzed for specific techniques.
Director General of the Institute SAITO Takamasa granted a completion certificate to each trainee at the completion ceremony held the last day. The workshop program, organized for three years, has finally ended. We sincerely hope that the Armenian people will not only contribute to the conservation and restoration of their cultural heritage based on the knowhow they have acquired, but also hand down their techniques and knowledge to the coming generation.
Classroom lecture at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
Tour of restoration conditions at the Shinmachi-Furumachi District in Kumamoto City
A civil war broke out in Syria eight years ago in March 2011, and it seems there is no end in sight. Apart from the human cost of war, the much precious cultural heritage was also lost.
The Japanese government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) began providing cultural heritage aid to Syria in 2017. From February 2018, the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, in association with academic organizations such as the University of Tsukuba, Teikyo University, Waseda University, Chubu University, and the Ancient Orient Museum, has been accepting Syrian specialists and providing them training in the fields of archeology and restoration. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is also participating in this project.
Following training seminars on conservation and restoration of paper cultural properties held in May 2018, this year, two Syrian specialists were invited to undergo training in “Research Planning Methods to Restore Historical Cities and Buildings” conducted from July 24th to August 6th.
Many historical cities such as the ancient city of Aleppo were engulfed in war, and many historical buildings were devastated. In the first half of this year’s training, seven specialists gave classroom lectures on surveying damage to historical buildings and making emergency repairs, structural safety diagnosis method, documentation and database creation method, restoration plan creation method, and restoration and preservation system creation method. For the practical aspect that comprised the second half of the training, participants inspected the restoration status of historical buildings and townscapes devastated by the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes, including Kumamoto Castle, the Shinmachi-Furumachi District, Kumamoto University, and the Eto-yashiki (Eto estate), which is registered as an important cultural property.
The participants also heard stories told by the people in charge. They visited Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings in Kyoto and Nara and saw examples of repairs and applications of historical Japanese buildings.
We would once again like to thank the specialists, related organizations, and personnel-in-charge for their support.
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties plans to continue support activities for Syrian cultural heritage in the future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.