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Conservation projects by region

There are over sixty projects on more than forty sites.

The projects and the reports described here were ordered by various groups such as: Authorities of the Nature and National Parks, Antiquities, Runoff water Drainage; Municipalities of Jerusalem, Beer Sheva, Akko; Universities and more.

Each project is briefly described and the conservation tasks are listed. The majority of the projects described here have been carried out while a few still remain in the planning stage. As of today, about 10 reports are presented in English (20 reports in Hebrew). Before long, more reports will be translated and reports that were done before the digital age will be transferred to Internet format.

Special acknowledgement is given to the Nature and Parks Authority for placing the conservation of heritage sites at the head of their priorities. While enduring the lack of funds and trained workers, the onsite staff of the Authority is making an outstanding, efficient and professional effort in conserving the national archaeological parks which are in a constant decay process. In the past decade, the Nature and Parks Authority took giant steps forward to acquire independence in conservation and maintenance needed for the professional care of the Nation’s heritage sites and raising the public awareness to the issues. This is similar to what was done successfully over 20 years ago with the campaign for the survival of plants and wildlife.

Most important is that all these projects were performed by the best conservators, planners, archaeologists and workers. They are dedicated to the conservation of Israel’s heritage sites; to them we are most grateful.

Throughout the process, incredible challenges and problems arose and confronted but in the end the ruins were transformed into stable and maintained sites, presenting their secrets and heritage for generations.

This challenge requires never-ending creativity, efficiency, hard work and the courage to dare and as always who dares wins!

Sites of the Perfume Road

The Saharonim Caravansary

Conservation in the Land of Genesis:

This is the first of the Perfume Road sites that was transformed, by conservation, from a complete ruin to a picturesque site in the heart of Makhtesh Ramon. The site is built with two types of very unstable, problematic stones: gypsum stone and clay rich "questa" stone. In addition, there was a need to excavate the large courtyard and the area in front of the gate in order to sense the size and original use of this caravansary.

Main conservation topics: damaged stone, plaster, wall reconstruction for conservation and presentation, landscape conservation.

Moa caravansary

The caravansary, fortress, and water pool

The conservation project included restoring heavy stone lintels to their original location, conservation of the oil-press and excavation and conservation of the large pool near the blocked up spring. At the end of the project, there was an earthquake in the region and the ancient Moa spring opened and began to flow. In a mysterious way the pool was filled by the spring via an underground method. This was a great surprise. No one imagined that this could ever happen again. .

Main conservation topics: walls, entrances, installations, plasters.

Makhmal Ascent Fortress

On the edge of Makhtesh Ramon rim.

The small fortress stands on top of the ancient Makhmal camel ascent overlooking the whole of Makhtesh (crater) Ramon. After the excavation in the 1960's the fortress was left to deteriorate into complete ruins. The conservation work at Makhmal was a prerequisite to nominate all the sites of the Perfume Road as a World Heritage Site. See detailed report

Main conservation topics: walls, wall reconstruction for conservation and presentation.

Nekarot River Fortress

The Roman and Nabataean fortress and cistern

Conservation and reconstruction work that included treatment and research of the hidden water cistern.

Main conservation topics: walls, l reconstruction for conservation, cistern, roof, plasters

The Rugum Tzafir Fortress

At the bottom of the Roman Akrabim (scorpion) Ascent

Defining of the structure by conservation and reconstruction of the walls and the two arches at the center of the courtyard.

Main conservation topics: walls, reconstruction for conservation of walls and arches.

Jerusalem sites

Mount of Olives

Ancient Sepharadic burial plot

This site is the area around Abshalom's tomb that was completely ruined by the Jordanians and freed after the Six Day War. The project's goal was to restore the tombs and graves back to their original form and visual landscape on the slope of the hill. The project was done entirely with lime mortars compatible to the original materials.

Main conservation topics: conservation and cleaning of tombstones and graves, grave reconstruction and runoff water treatment with regards to the surrounding landscape.

See detailed report

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Plastering of the central dome

This project was commissioned by the Vatican in order to reconstruct, in traditional slaked lime, the plaster of the central dome above the tomb of Jesus and conserve the stone cornice at the base. The conservation standards for the work included a system of anchors in between layers of aged lime putty and goat hair plaster. Prof. John Ashurst led the project from the professional conservation aspect.

Main conservation topics: soft stone, plasters, lime plaster reconstruction for presentation purposes.

Herodion Bath-house

A magnificent bath-house complex with a large pool, richly decorated with frescoes and mosaics. Prof. Ehud Netzer, the excavating archaeologist/architect, plan was to reconstruct walls from a reversible material that was different from the original stones, in order to be able to roof the complex to save the delicate decoration and original structure.

Main conservation topics: frescoes, mosaics, plasters, walls and reconstruction for conservation and presentation.

Ein Hania - Jerusalem

Roman Nymphaeum

This site lies in the southern part of the city near Ein Yael. There is a spring flowing out of a vaulted opening, a small and a large collecting pools and connecting canals. At this stage there is a preliminary survey, documentation and conservation plan to stabilize the system.

See detailed report

Main conservation topics: survey, documentation and conservation plan for preliminary stabilization.

Ein Yael

Tenth Legion fortress

This site is surrounded by an agricultural system. In the first stage, frescos and mosaics were conserved, led by Roberto Nardi and his crew. In the second stage, conservation of the walls, an underground drainage system and preparation for a tourist plan were implemented.

Main conservation topics: fresco, mosaics, walls, drainage system, site development,

The City of David

Area G

The steep incline offers a combination of layers from the end of the Bronze period to the Hellenistic period. The comprehensive site plan begins with identification and separation of the layers and illustrates a presentation solution that will allow the visitors to differentiate between the main periods.

Main conservation topics: general conservation plan for the stabilization of the incline

See detailed report

Inner plains sites

Bet Guvrin

Maresha Villa

The project involved reconstruction of the wall and vault on top of the entrance to the caves underneath the villa. The reconstructed wall was laid on galvanized double tee iron bars.

Main conservation topics: foundation reconstruction, wall and vault for conservation and presentation purposes.

The El-Mir Flourmill

Rescue work

The work consisted of preliminary stabilization of the structures in order to prevent the collapse of the surviving dome. In addition, re-pointing, vegetation and water management were implemented.

Main conservation topics: walls, domes and exposed foundation

Latrun

The Roman bathhouse

This amazing structure survived largely due to its close proximity to the tomb of a famous sheikh. The original roof of the structure survived and the room system was clear. Conservation work included taking apart and re-assembling of the walls and arches that were distorted due to earthquakes. The works were in conjunction with the excavations led by Mordechai Gichon.

Main conservation topics: walls, arches, dismantling and re-assembling

The Zedek Tower

Rescue work to the Crusade Fortress

This project consisted of a combination of engineering and conservation work and treatment of the walls and the drain system. Most of the works focused on the improvised entrance and the Byzantine room in the northwest corner.

Main conservation topics: walls, vaults, exposed foundation, a massive reconstruction of the northwest corner, engineering together with conservation, reconstruction of pillars and vaults that are twisted, roofs, drains, landscape, safety enclosures.

Midras Ruins

The reconstruction of a tomb

Midras ruins have an amazing cave/built tomb that, sadly, was destroyed by ultra-religious vandalism. The cave was, fortunately, documented and measured by architect Giora Solar, before it was vandalized. The tomb was build with massive stones in a relatively small area that is difficult to maneuver in. This poises a challenge to the conservation efforts. Currently, the conservation plan has been prepared. The work has yet to be implemented.

See detailed report

Main conservation issues: survey of current status, documentation and conservation plans for the future

The Shaar Hagaye Stronghold

Treatment of the roof

Project included implementing of lime concrete to seal the fortress's roof

Main conservation issues: cleaning and sealing roofs

Ein Hemed

The Aqua Bella Crusader Fortress

A guideline plan for the fortress's developing architectural plans

See detailed report

Main conservation topics: survey, conservation guidelines, engineering guidelines, recommendations for planning.

Tel-Afek

The Roman Cardo,

Conservation work on the decayed road stones

See detailed report

Main conservation issues: stone conservation, filling cracks in stable and unstable areas, continuous landscape care.

Tel Bet Shemesh

First Temple Period water cistern system

The conservation works were in conjunction with the on going excavation in order to stabilize the descent-shaft and internal eroded plaster of the cistern system.

View report

Main conservation topics: walls, soft stone, plaster, run-off water and vegetation management.

 

 

The Coastal Sites

Apollonia Crusader Fortress

Conservation prior to development

With the conclusion of the excavation of the site and before it opened to the public, an initial conservation plan was prepared and implemented.

See detailed report

Main conservation topics: survey, locating conservation problems and topics, integrating site to visitor path, reconstruction areas.

The Ashdod-Sea Fortress

Project included reconstruction for conservation and presentation purposes and treatment to the northwestern tower

Main conservation topics: stone cutting and dressing, wall reconstruction, wall core grouting.

Tel Dor-The Pheonician Port

In cooperation with a private entrepreneur, a concept plan was created for conservation, presentation and operation of the coastal side of Tel-Dor: fisheries, docks, temple and theatre. The plan has not been implemented due to statutory delays.

Galilee Sites

The Minim Ruins

Stone conservation in partnership with the Getty Institute - detailed survey of site architecture, causes of decay, a conservation model as part of a comprehensive plan.

 

 

Ancient Akko

The model house-training team in wall conservation and roof plastering. The training was done by Prof. John Ashurst and M. Talighapietra.

Zippori

Project work included work on the House of the Nile Festival mosaic – training with Roberto Nardi and crew in mosaic conservation in-situ. The work included: cleaning, support, injections, void filling, mosaic borders, restoration, documentation, project management.

Dead Sea Sites

Masada

The Northern Palace

The project included conservation works to save the three terraced palace "hung" on the northern cliff of Masada, above a 400 hundred meter abyss. The palace is the last testimony to King Herod's magnificent and daring construction feats during the Second Temple period. The emergency conservation works of phase A included; a wide survey and assessment of present conservation state, adjustment of compatible materials and techniques prior to intervention, Treatment to fragile elements-plaster, stucco, fresco, complete treatment to save the Tholos round structure of the second terrace, reconstruction of the small bath-house vault and water management of the lower terrace and conservation and presentation of the upper terrace.

The next phases of emergency conservation are the most difficult, challenging and dangerous of all other sites in Israel. The budget to fund these next phases has yet to be found. These works will ensure the safe-keeping of this incredible monument for generations to come.

See detailed report

Main conservation issues: walls, soft stone, fresco, plaster, mosaic.

Western palace

The Western Palace was the official residence of Herod and his family and is situated in the center of the mountain. The palace is made up of four quarters. The royal quarter survived and today is protected with modern roofing.

See detailed report

Main conservation topics: walls throughout the palace, rare mosaics, plasters, floors and the replacement of the modern ceiling in the royal quarter.

Residence and headquarters of the mountain commander

An impressive amount of original frescoes have survived. In order to conserve and present them to the public, roofs and flooring were reconstructed. Fresco conservation was led by M. Talighapietra and R. Nardi

See detailed report

Main conservation topics: removal, detachment, exchange of support and re-fitting of all frescoes, conservation reconstruction of walls, roofs and floors.

The synagogue

Run-off water drainage problems into the synagogue courtyard caused the western cliff to crumble which endangered the entire synagogue structure.

See detailed report

Main conservation topics: plaster conservation and reconstruction, reconstruction of floors, reconstruction of the archive room for run-off water management and presentation purposes.

Church

Extensive reconstruction and conservation work in the church area including treatment of mosaics, draining problems, visitor movement, and surrounding yard. Main conservation topics: mosaics, plasters, soft stone, conservation reconstruction of infrastructure, floor, missing headstones, supporting yard-walls and mosaic room protective roof.

The Tanner's House

A complex conservation challenge of thin lime plasters on a bedding of thick earthen plasters and conservation of exterior walls that were in danger of collapsing.

Main conservation topics: walls, lime plaster, earthen plaster,

The bathhouse

Project included comprehensive treatment of the structure and courtyard which included roof drains, water cisterns, flooring, frescoes, and a presentation in the caldarium- the hot room. This project was led and supervised by Roberto Nardi and his Italian crew.

Main conservation topics: frescoes, mosaics, flooring, reconstruction of cistern plasters, repointing with lime mortar of structure's walls

The storehouse complexes

Walls, 30 meters in length, were reconstructed in the 1970's to four meters in height. The lower third is the original wall with a missing core and in terrible conservation state.

Main conservation topics: walls, floors, runoff water management.

Pools and Ritual Baths

Around every structure on the mountain there were pools that gathered the water from the roof. The pools were dug into the ground. This caused the migration of damaging salts into the plaster system that was to save and hold the water.

See complete article

Main conservation topics lime plaster, plaster reconstruction

Casemate walls and gates-the fortification system

The casemate walls of Masada were 1,400 meters in length with 37 towers and gates serving as the entrance to the mountain fortress. The walls enclosed rooms that were in use, especially, in the times of the Great Revolt.

See detailed report

Main conservation topics: structures: walls, plasters, floors, runoff water draining.

Structures and courtyards

Additional number of structures surrounding a courtyard including: Villas 7,9,11 and 12,

Main conservation topics: walls, plasters, runoff water draining,

detailed report - Villa 9

General detailed reports:

Ein Gedi

The Chalcolithic Temple

Fascinating remains of a temple preserved above the Ein Gedi oasis. The structure's outline remained, though its walls were damaged and some destroyed by the overload of visitors.

See detailed report

Main conservation topics: walls, runoff water management

The Omaian mill

This structure was in a rare state of conservation with all the functioning parts. The surviving, damaged vault, water canals and chimeny and some of the walls are in danger of immediate collapse.

Main conservation topics: structure, vault, walls, wall reconstruction

The synagogue

Conservation works were undertaken in order to restore the synagogues mosaics and display them to the public. Conservation works entailed diverting runoff water from the floor's infrastructure as well as mosaic maintenance.

Main conservation topics: walls, plasters, mosaics, runoff water management

The Arugot Wadi Fortress

The fortress is a two-room, fortified structure at the center of an ancient terraced agricultural area. During excavation of the structure, two plastered pools and walls 3.5-4 meters high were revealed. Conservation work was done in conjunction with the excavations to stabilize openings and walls.

Main conservation topics: walls, plaster, slope stabilization.

Ein Feshkha

The typical Israeli four plane house

The continued exposure of a second-temple period structure by archeologist Yizhar Hirschfeld, demanded conservation intervention during excavation in order to stabilize the structure's walls and plastered pools that may have been used to produce perfume.

Main conservation topics: walls, plasters, runoff water management

Qumeran

In the early 1960's, the elaborate system of pools and canals for gathering the flood waters of the Qumeran Wadi was excavated and stabilized. The pools are dug into the salt-rich soil. The white cement, which was used as a stabilizing material, severely damaged the original plaster system. A difficult and complicated part of the project was taking apart the white cement. The conservation project of Qumeran was a unique, professional challenge and served as a milestone in the development of lime and earth plaster conservation techniques.

See detailed report

Main conservation topics: lime plaster, earth plaster, earth bricks, and installations.

Negev and Arava Desert sites

Historical Beer-Sheba

Model for soft-stone conservation

As part of reconstructing the Governor's house, a model was created based on survey, documentation and analysis of the present state of conservation. This resulted in a suitable plan for dealing with the severe deterioration of the soft stone in Historical Beer-Sheba. Replacing original stones with modern stones was the last course of action recommended.

See detailed report

Main conversation topics: soft stone

Halutza

Training excavation

The excavation by the Ben-Gurion University continued unearthing the central church and the nearby theatre. Due to poor conservation state of the main construction stone – soft chalk limestone – there was a need to conserve during the excavation including partial reburial of the excavations and runoff water management during rainy season.

Main conservation topics: conservation during excavation- SOS treatments.

Mamshit

The Eastern Church

This church, shown in the famous Byzantine Madaba map, was destroyed when the Muslims conquered the Negev. As of today the Apsis rooms' floor stones and the Baptistery have been conserved. In addition, the large central mosaic floor, which was in one of the worst conservation states the country, received long awaited treatment. The floor, reburied over 15 years ago due to its problematic condition, was uncovered and full and conclusive conservation treatment and stabilization was performed.

See detailed report:
Eastern Church mosaic

Main conservation topics: mosaic, plasters, floors, soft stone, plaster reconstruction

The Western Church

On the last day of Roberto Nardi's onsite conservation work on the central mosaic, the mosaic was completely destroyed in a terrible act of vandalism. The act of collecting the mosaic's stone that were reconstructed in Italy and returned to Mamshit is illustrated in photos in "the story of a mosaic". After the return of the mosaic, conservation was done as well as drainage treatment for presentation purposes.

Main conservation topics: mosaic, stone floors, drainage treatment.

Bet Nabato

The "Eros" fresco room in the house of pillars was conserved by a joined team with Roberto Nardi: Conservation was done on the surviving paintings, roof and walls. At a later stage, preventive maintenance was done to the frescos.

Main conservation topics: frescos, re-pointing walls, roof sealing and draining.

The bathhouse

The bath house was excavated, abandoned and exposed to runoff water damage for decades. At a certain point there was a plan to rebury the site. Recently, a conservation and development plan for the impressive structure was made which focused from runoff water management to treatment of sensitive elements. Just recently the plan was implemented.

See detailed report

Main conservation topics: walls, plasters, floors, Hypocaust system, site visitor route.

City walls

The fortification walls are built with an earth and rubble core and some are in an advanced state of decay.

See detailed report

Main conservation topics: walls, runoff water treatment

The Patish Fortress- Ofakim

Reconstruction of an historical structure

Located in the Ofakim National park, the Patish fortress was abandoned in the 1950's and was in a severe state of decay. As part of the development program of Ofakim national park, the fortress was conserved and reconstructed to its original state. The doors and windows were restored and modern electric and communication wiring and outlets were installed. Today the structure is maintained by the Israel's National Fund.

See complete article

Main conservation topics: historic structure reconstruction: roof, walls domes, plasters and floor

The Yeruham Fortress

Conservator training course and site development.

The fortress overlooks an agricultural area from the Byzantine period. As part of the project, a training course was held for conservators who studied and trained in the conservation, reconstruction and presentation of the fortress.

Main conservation topics: soft stone, walls, runoff water treatment, walls and arches reconstruction.

The Zin Ascent Fortress

Site conservation and development.

Initial excavation of the fortress included ongoing conservation treatments. At the end of the excavation, a conservation and site development plan was made and implemented.

See detailed report

Main conservation topics: walls, thresholds, conserving heritage landscape.

Nitzana

Conservation during excavation

During Ben-Gurion University's excavations, conservation intervention was done in order to stabilize the soft stone, fragile elements and mosaics. Immediate reburial was also implemented to areas where the archaeological research was finished and there were no intentions to develop.

Main conservation topics: walls, soft stone, plaster, mosaics

Ovdat

Conservation maintenance

Most of the structures that were excavated were reconstructed in the 1970s. Recently, as part of a long-term project, all the sites on the visitor route were conserved and maintained. At the end of the project, a large part of the route was made accessible to disabled people.

Main conservation issues: walls, plasters, runoff water management, accessibility for disabled.

Ir Ovot- Biblical Tamar

Excavation, conservation and development.

The biblical Tamar is, by most scholars, identified with this site. The site was excavated and conserved at the same time – areas that were excavated were automatically conserved and developed. For this purpose, a large stone saw was built to cut the boulders into building stone for conservation purposes. The project also served as a training program for the Masada conservation crew. Main conservation issues: walls, earthen bricks, lime plaster, ceramic tiles from the bathhouse hypocaust, sawing and dressing construction stones, visitor route preparation.

Shivta

The Governor's House

This structure, which was centrally located and historically significant, was also in a very high state of preservation. The work included conservation of an earth wall core which survived at a height of 6-7 meters and conservation of soft stone in the adjacent central church. The projected also included reconstructing a massive arch that supported still hanging stone used for roofing (instead of timber).

See complete governor's house report, see complete stable house report

Main conservation topics: walls, soft stone, exposed wall core, plasters, stone arch reconstruction.

 

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