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Thursday, May 31 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
(Architecture + Archaeological Conservation) Loves Me like a Rock: Care and Preservation of Ancient Graffiti in a Rock-Cut Kushite Temple

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This talk describes the preservation of ancient graffiti in a rock-cut temple at the site of El Kurru in Sudan. El Kurru is the location of a royal burial ground of ancient Kush (a region located in modern-day northern Sudan), and the site encompasses multiple pyramid burials as well as two rock-cut funerary temples. The sandstone temple that is the focus of this project was built during the late Napatan period (ca. 350 BC), and its walls and columns are heavily inscribed with devotional graffiti from the Meroitic period (ca. 100 BC – AD 100). It is an impressive and unique structure, a source of pride for local residents, and an interesting and accessible feature for visitors. The ancient graffiti it contains provide a unique glimpse into the lives of individuals in antiquity, providing information about their thoughts, values, and daily lives. El Kurru’s sandstone monuments suffer from granular disintegration and other serious condition problems. Although the conservation of archaeological heritage is often complicated, it is especially challenging in Sudan due to a fragile national economy and comprehensive intertnational sanctions against the country (except - these were just lifted in October 2017! - so it might get better!). For these reasons, a holistic approach has been used to preserve the graffiti. Work began with a criterion-anchored rating (CAR) condition survey designed to identify, prioritize, and monitor condition issues. Chemical analysis of the stone was conducted, and treatment options including alkoxysilane consolidation and grout injection were explored. Preventive conservation strategies for the temple, including a protective shelter and increased community education, have also been developed. Finally, reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) was used to document the graffiti’s condition and create a virtual, visual catalog. This talk emphasizes key principles for guiding conservation at archaeological sites: practicality, flexibility, sustainability, and placing a high value on the contributions and wishes of stakeholders.

avatar for Suzanne Davis

Suzanne Davis

Conservator, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
Suzanne Davis is an associate curator and the head of conservation at the University of Michigan’s Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. Prior to joining the Museum in 2001, she was a conservator for the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C. She... Read More →

avatar for Janelle Batkin-Hall

Janelle Batkin-Hall

Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Objects Conservation, National Museum of African Art
Janelle Batkin-Hall is a Mellon Fellow in objects conservation at the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution. She holds an M.A. and Certificate of Advanced Study in Art Conservation from Buffalo State College. Janelle earned undergraduate degrees in photography and... Read More →
avatar for Carrie Roberts-[PA]

Carrie Roberts-[PA]

Conservator, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
Caroline Roberts is a conservator at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan. She is a graduate of the Winterthur / University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, and is a professional associate of the AIC. Her interests include the conservation and preservation... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 2:30pm - 3:00pm MDT
Texas Ballroom C Marriott Marquis Houston