The MOSAIKON initiative—a partnership of the GCI, the Getty Foundation, ICCROM, and ICCM—seeks to improve the conservation, presentation, and maintenance of mosaics in the Mediterranean region, both those in situ and those in museums and storage. It is accomplishing this aim by strategically deploying resources to four main areas of work: (1) strengthening the professional network, (2) building local capacity, (3) developing locally available and affordable conservation practices, and (4) disseminating and exchanging information more broadly. This past spring, several activities took place in furtherance of these goals.
Regional Technician Training Course
In April, the first training session of the regional course for technicians of in situ mosaics began in El Jem, Tunisia, with twelve participants from four North African countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) in attendance.
This six-week session, part of a two-year course to train conservation technicians, focused on documentation of mosaics using the methodology developed at courses previously held for Tunisian mosaic technicians by the GCI, in collaboration with the Institut National du Patrimoine (INP), Tunisia. Topics covered included an introduction to mosaics and their conservation, as well as intensive training in graphic documentation and recording.
GCI staff and consultants took part in the instruction, classroom presentations, and on-site practical work, assisted by two Tunisian technicians previously trained by the GCI, Lotfi Layouni and Hamadi Sillini. The next session in the course is scheduled to begin at the end of October in El Jem, with the same twelve participants and instructors.
Model Field Project
In June, as part of MOSAIKON's model field project work at the Roman-Byzantine site of Bulla Regia, Tunisia, GCI project specialist Leslie Friedman, GCI graduate intern Juana Segura Escobar, and three conservator consultants carried out a rapid survey of excavated mosaics at Bulla Regia, collecting data on the condition, significance, and degree of exposure of these works. Over three hundred mosaics, more than two-thirds of those at the site, were surveyed during the campaign, with the remaining to be surveyed and documented in fall 2012. Three technicians of the Tunisian Institut National du Patrimoine, all trained by the GCI, were based at the site. They carried out preliminary cleaning of the mosaics, and INP site management staff were trained in and assisted with the survey and photographic methods.
The data collected from the survey will form the basis of the site's conservation plan. Conservation planning will be carried out in 2013 with the aid of a GIS being developed for the site. The GIS will eventually be used as a site management tool for Bulla Regia.
In addition to site-wide conservation planning for all mosaics at Bulla Regia, the model field project also includes conservation treatment and public presentation of significant houses with mosaics. INP conservation technicians have been engaged in cleaning and stabilization treatments in one of the major houses at Bulla Regia, famous for its underground levels decorated with floor mosaics. One of these houses, the Maison de la Chasse, has already undergone structural interventions by the World Monuments Fund. By the end of 2013, it is anticipated that the conservation interventions of all forty-seven in situ mosaics in the Maison de la Chasse will be completed. MOSAIKON's model field project is funded by the GCI Council.