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International Workshop for Qusayr 'Amra

The Department of Antiquities of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, World Monuments Fund, and the Italian Conservation Institute (Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro—ISCR) recently organized an international workshop to discuss problems and proposed solutions for the conservation of Qusayr ‘Amra, one of Jordan's three UNESCO World Heritage sites. Dr. Ziad al-Saad, Director General of Jordan's Department of Antiquities, chaired the workshop in the presence of the Ambassador of Italy, Francesco Fransoni, and representatives from UNESCO and other international organizations.

Qusayr ‘Amra is a lodge and bath house built during the Umayyad period in the mid-eighth century. Its interiors are covered with mural paintings representing hunting and bath scenes, artisans at work, a zodiac, and other scenes of court life. They are rare survivals of early Islamic art illustrating the transition from Byzantine to Islamic society. The building itself and the mural paintings are visited by thousands of tourists every year, and suffer from various types of decay. The workshop follows two one-week courses organized by the ISCR with the support of WMF to introduce workmen and conservators from the Department of Antiquities to the theory and practice of wall and mural painting conservation.

The workshop encouraged the exchange of experiences among the French, Jordanian, and Spanish scholars who worked on the monument in past documentation and research projects, and the Italian and Jordanian teams that will work on the conservation project beginning this spring. Topics discussed included documentation and assessment of site conditions, monitoring of environmental characteristics and material decay, evaluation of past conservation interventions, site management planning issues, and site interpretation and presentation. The conservation teams will be on site from mid-March to mid-May for a first phase of the project, with the technical and financial support of World Monuments Fund as well as the Italian and Jordanian governments.