This past spring, a fourth campaign of training in the maintenance of in situ archaeological mosaics was held at the site of Thuburbo Majus, Tunisia. A joint effort of the GCI and the Institut National du Patrimoine (INP), Tunisia, the training program is designed to address the need for mosaics maintenance at archaeological sites in Tunisia by training technicians to perform the everyday stabilization and maintenance work that in situ mosaics require. This training is part of a national strategy to safeguard Tunisia's archaeological heritage through the creation of maintenance teams based at sites in different regions of the country.
The first three training campaigns, which blended classroom instruction and hands-on practice, were held in 2001 at the site of Utica. In these sessions, the trainees learned the steps in the conservation process—from documenting the condition of the mosaics to planning treatment and executing the stabilization of the pavement (see Conservation, vol. 17, no. 1).
In May the training moved to the site of Thuburbo Majus. This final campaign for this group of trainees was aimed at reinforcing what had already been learned through work at a different site that posed new problems. Here the trainees gained additional experience in a number of techniques introduced briefly in previous sessions, such as grouting with lime mortar, and reburial, and they were given guidance in solving the most difficult maintenance problems at the site. They also reviewed and inspected the work that they had previously carried out at Utica—tasks that introduced them to the important maintenance activity of periodic inspection and condition assessment.
In recognition of the trainees' completion of the course, a group of archaeologists, architects, and administrators from the INP were invited to the site to view their work and to discuss with the trainees and the instructors a variety of mosaic and site conservation issues.
The GCI remains committed to working with Tunisia to achieve its goal of creating regional teams of maintenance technicians. To this end, in October 2002, the GCI and the INP began a second technician training course at the Roman and Byzantine site of Makhtar. At the completion of the training, this new group of trainees will carry out the maintenance of in situ mosaics in archaeological sites situated in the central region of Tunisia.