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MOSAIKON e-Bulletin
Spring 2013

C U R R E N T    A C T I V I T I E S
Technician Training for In Situ Mosaics

MOSAIKON's Regional Course for Technicians of In Situ Mosaics began in April 2012 in El Jem, Tunisia. The course grows out of a decade of GCI-led training initiatives for conservation technicians in Tunisia, organized in partnership with the Institut National du Patrimoine (INP). Twelve participants from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya are taking part in the two-year course, which is composed of four six-week training sessions (two sessions per year, in spring and fall). The course is taught in French by a GCI team with Arabic translation and instruction assistance provided by INP employees who are former trainees.

Technician Training for In Situ Mosaics
Practical training in mosaic cleaning, El Jem, Tunisia. Photo: T. Roby. © J. Paul Getty Trust.

Between sessions, practical exercises are assigned to the trainees, to be completed at their own sites. These are combined with on-site follow-up by course instructors. These on-site practical activities are critical to the training, while also serving to involve site directors and supervisors in the conservation process. In addition, the trainees' supervisors have been invited to visit the training work-site and to discuss their role in conserving in situ mosaics.

The first session took place in spring 2012 and covered written, graphic, and photographic documentation of mosaics. The second session, in fall 2012, covered stabilization techniques for mosaics. The spring 2013 session is continuing with stabilization techniques and introducing preventive conservation measures such as drainage and reburial. Additionally, the technicians spent three weeks in May at the site of Bulla Regia, Tunisia, for practical training in the context of the ongoing Bulla Regia Mosaic Conservation Project, another MOSAIKON initiative. The fourth and final session of the course is scheduled for fall 2013.

Alternative Backing Research

The Investigation of Alternative Backing Methods and Materials project is a component of the MOSAIKON Initiative being undertaken by the GCI's Science department. The project is developing sustainable solutions to the conservation of lifted mosaics by investigating alternative backing methods and materials that are reversible and durable, and that employ locally available and inexpensive materials. While the study mainly targets mosaics stored without any backing, the developed backing methods will also be useful for mosaics to be displayed or those that require the replacement of existing deteriorated or inappropriate supports.

Alternative Backing Research
A mock-up being prepared for performance testing. Photo: Scott S. Warren © J. Paul Getty Trust.

This research project includes identifying and selecting lime-based mortars and formulations that can be used for backing lifted mosaics, based on required mechanical and physical properties. At present, research continues with the testing of mock-ups using different mortar combinations with a variety of cost-effective panel reinforcements. Evaluations of these mock-ups will determine: (a) the influence of reinforcing panels on load bearing capacity, toughness, and deflection of the backing; (b) the optimal thickness of layers based on deflection; (c) the bond between intervention and supporting layer and between reinforcement and supporting layer; (d) the long-term durability of plastic reinforcement panels and overall backing; (e) the final weight of backing systems; and (f) reversibility.

A computer model has been built, which will facilitate the adaptation of the backing method to different local materials. This model will be used to help determine the most important factors (e.g., size, weight, etc., of a mosaic) affecting the choice of backing system and help to create user-friendly design guidelines to assist professionals in developing affordable backing methods. For further information about this project, please send an email to

A L U M N I   N E W S

Maher Jbaee, Head of Mosaic Conservation Laboratory, General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums, Syria is an alumnus of two MOSAIKON training programs: the 2010 site management course organized by the GCI in Tyre, Lebanon and the recently concluded course for mosaics restorers organized by the Centro di Conservazione Archeologica (CCA) near Rome and funded by a grant from the Getty Foundation. He shared these thoughts on his MOSAIKON training experiences:

Maher Jbaee
Maher Jbaee carries out conservation treatment on a mosaic.
Photo: © Maher Jbaee

"The MOSAIKON courses have impacted my professional work and were very helpful. For example, I apply what I learned in the Tyre site management course about describing the condition of the mosaic, using the list of terms for in situ mosaics developed by the Getty Conservation Institute. I now use descriptions of the mosaic typology, current conditions, previous interventions, and current interventions, and include this information in reports. I also use a database to update information, which was recommended during the course. With all of our work in the Mosaic Conservation Laboratory in Syria, we use updated restoration techniques, to which we have added new steps that I learned in the course given by CCA under the supervision of trainer Roberto Nardi. I now organize our work in the laboratory from the beginning to the end, making a plan for the suggested time and materials, and the daily work to be accomplished, as I learned from the CCA MOSAIKON course."

C U R R E N T     P R O J E C T     U P D A T E S
Saving Mosaics in Museums of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean

At the closing ceremony of the Saving Mosaics in Museums of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean course, held last summer in Amman, Jordan, Princess Sumaya of the Jordanian royal family, gave an address that highlighted current issues concerning the conservation and protection of mosaics. To read more about the course, and for the full text of Her Royal Highness's speech, please visit the ICCROM website, or the ICCM website.

Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites with Mosaics

The GCI, in partnership with the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus and the Archaeological Research Unit of the University of Cyprus, is pleased to announce the second MOSAIKON training course in the conservation and management of archaeological sites with mosaics, to be held in Paphos, Cyprus, in spring 2014.

This course is aimed at mid-career professionals from the southern and eastern Mediterranean region who manage archaeological sites with mosaics and will cover all aspects of conserving and managing archaeological sites with in situ mosaics, including documentation and recording; site management planning; deterioration mechanisms; basic conservation interventions, both preventive and remedial; and presentation and interpretation.

As with the 2010 course in Tyre, Lebanon, this training course has three parts: a three-week workshop, an extended mentoring period during which participants carry out individual projects at their home site or institution, and a final workshop. The participants will be expected to commit to the full length of the course. The teaching language will be English.

The full course announcement and application will be available on the GCI and other MOSAIKON partner websites in summer 2013. Please check the website for updates, or send inquiries to

P U B L I C A T I O N S   &   R E S O U R C E S
ICCM Newsletter 13

For news about the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics (ICCM) and mosaic conservation and heritage activities world-wide, see the April 2013 ICCM Newsletter 13, which is now available as a PDF on the ICCM website.

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Banner image: Roman mosaic design at El Jem, Tunisia

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