In spring 2003, a training course for technicians in the maintenance of in situ archaeological mosaics continued in Tunisia at the site of Neapolis, outside the modern coastal town of Nabeul. The course is a collaboration between the Getty Conservation Institute and the Tunisian Institut National du Patrimoine (INP) to train technicians on stabilization and routine maintenance of in situ archaeological floor mosaics. It is part of a national strategy to train a maintenance team for every region of the country.

conservation image

The GCI previously provided training for a group of technicians now working on mosaics from sites in the northeast region of the country. A second course started in fall 2002 with a new group of 10 trainees who are employed at sites in the central region. In May 2003, in the second part of this course, the new trainees were introduced to the practical work of stabilizing floor mosaics using lime-based mortars.

Through classroom instruction and hands-on practice, the trainees learned about the various materials to use for in situ conservation and about the mortar mixes appropriate for each type of treatment. They also continued to improve their documentation skills by recording in written, photographic, and graphic form the conservation interventions they performed.

The participants worked on the mosaic of the peristyle of a Roman villa—the Maison des Nymphes—that dates from the fourth century and was excavated in 1965-67. As was typical practice at the time, the figurative parts of the mosaic decoration were detached and placed in the nearby museum, while the much larger surface area of geometric mosaics was left largely uncared for, with only sporadic repair work.

This campaign also provided the opportunity for the trainers to review the documentation work carried out by the trainees after the last campaign on specific mosaics at their respective sites. At each site, planning for the stabilization interventions that the trainees will perform in between campaigns was carried out with them. The stabilization work will be reviewed during the third part of the training course to be held in fall 2003.