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THE CONSERVATION OF THE ROYAL PALACE


In 2004 the Syrian, Italian and German teams started a project with the goal of preserving and restoring the second millennium Royal Palace of Qatna and making this monumental building accessible to the public.

 

The conservation of the Royal Palace will be the first step of a long-term project aiming at the creation of an archaeological park of Mishrifeh. The combination of conservation interventions with innovative technologies for the management and fruition of archaeological sites will make the protection of the ancient city and its transformation into a centre of tourist attraction possible.

 

All the structures of the Royal Palace showed poor conditions of conservation. The thick original mortar floors of the palace were preserved only in few rooms and the walls stood up only to the foundation level. The palace foundations were also severely da-maged by ancient and modern pits, so that the top of the mud-brick foundations did not display the same elevation but had a stair-step aspect. This feature represented a great danger for the preservation of the mud-bricks, which, during winter, were subject to heavy erosion caused by streams of rain.

 

Therefore, it has been decided to create on top of them a protection layer made of modern mud-bricks, which could be liable to the weathering but, at the same time, create a protective layer over the ancient structures.

 

During two seasons of restoration, about 60.000 mud-bricks, made of the earth coming from the excavation debris of the palace, were produced by the Syrian-Italian team in the two different formats and sizes attested to in the Royal Palace: rectangular (50 x 35 x 13 cm) and square (38 x 38 x 13 cm). This system allows the reversibility and visibility of the conservation intervention and was carried out using only local and natural materials.

 

After their excavation, the foundations of the walls were cleaned and – where damaged by later pits – levelled with mud-bricks in order to achieve an equal surface on which setting the new mud-bricks. In a first stage on the clean foundation of the walls the mud-bricks were set to reach the elevation of the preserved room floors and then walled up to an average height of four mud-brick courses above floor level. Then two plaster layers were set in order to level the masonry and protect it from weathering. The outer rendering consists of mud, fine straw, lime and modern crushed pottery which gives the walls their reddish colour.

 

The original floors have been maintained as far as possible, whilst the broken parts have been replaced by a layer of gravel.

 



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