Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The World's Oldest Pebble Mosaic

One of the projects we're currently working on is the cleaning of a large pebble mosaic, that dates to the 9th century BC.

The mosaic was found intact in Megaron 2, during excavations in 1956. The mosaic was lifted from the original location, to be stored off-site. After lifting, the mosaic was backed with concrete, and has been displayed at the Gordion site museum since the 1980s. It is currently displayed in a sunken area with a protective roof, but is still exposed to birds, dust, rain and other environmental factors.

Current work is being done by a team from the Historic Preservation department at the University of Pennsylvania, including professor Frank Matero and graduate student Tiffin Thompson. The current work, funded by the Kaplan Foundation, is part of a three-year conservation plan for the mosaic. The first step is the documentation and condition assessment of the mosaic, to determine overall stability and deterioration of the tiles. The team will then compare the current placement of the tiles with archival images and field notes. This will enable them to assess how closely the current position of each tile matches the original layout. In the final phase of the project, the tiles will be stabilized and excess concrete cleaned from the surface. The team also plans to examine the condition of a similarly dated mosaic, still in situ within the main excavation site, to better understand the deterioration and fully document the mosaics found at the site of Gordion.
Tiffin works on a condition survey of the tiles.

Elizabeth cleans one of the tiles using a brush and vacuum.