Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Conservation in Egypt

I found an interesting article on the BBC News website a few days ago and I've been dying to post it ever since! You can read the article yourself here. It's called "Newport firm stabilises Egypt's earthquake-hit pyramid" and features the attempts of Cintec (an engineering company from South Wales) to help conserve the Pyramid of Djoser in Egypt (Egypt's oldest step-built pyramid). The company makes use of pressurised air-filled bags, thermo-dynamic steel rods and authentic 2,700 BC mortar.

The plan to preserve this part of Egypt's heritage sounds brilliant, but something worries me... Namely the thermo-dynamic steel rods. They are going to be threaded "...diagonally through the steps of the pyramid, in such a way that the six levels will be knitted together without being visible" (emphasis is mine). I could be mistaken, but to me that sounds as if they're going to damage the original fabric of the pyramid in order to make it more stable... I wonder how the work they're going to do is going to affect the authenticity of the buildings. They are, after all, adding new material to it (and probably removing old material).

I do like their idea of using authentic 2,700 BC mortar. The site explains that with 'authentic mortar' they mean mortar that is "...entirely made from components which would have been available to the ancient Egyptians". This puzzled me in the beginning, since I thought that the Romans were the first civilization to use mortar in the construction of their buildings. But I guess I was mistaken, since after doing some research, I found out that the Egyptian actually already used it before the Romans did. I prefer the idea of using mortar mixed according to an ancient recipe so much more than the use of modern materials on ancient buildings.

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