Lalibela, Phase I

In 1965, upon consultation with Merid Asfa Wossen, the former Crown Prince of Ethopia, the International Fund for Monuments (now World Monuments Fund) commissioned Dr. Sandro Angelini to conduct a survey and restoration cost-estimate for the site of Lalibela, Ethopia, where a group of eleven monolithic churches were carved from solid stone more than eight hundred years ago. Thought to represent a New Jerusalem, an alternate site for Christian pilgrimage during the Crusader periods of Muslim conquest in the Holy Land, this ensemble had deteriorated considerably by 1966, having been subjected to unimpeded biological growth, geological faulting, and previous imprudent restoration campaigns. During the first phase of this project, Dr. Angelini attempted to decrease the rate of deterioration by stabilizing cracks and fissures throughout the complex, applying a water repellant solution to the roofs of four of the churches, consolidating interior frescoes, excavate the original water drainage trenches around the site, and reestablishing the monolithic form and character of the buildings through cement repairs mixed with local stone as aggregate.

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