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15 April 2011

Thursday 14th April 2011; A History & Theory of Conservation & Foro Romano

Week 1 of 12 
Module 1: Introductions and Orientation

This morning we received lectures from Jukka Jokilehto on a ‘History and Theory of Conservation.’ Jukka’s first lecture concentrated on the ‘Development of Policies and Concepts in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage.’ The photo (below) from the lecture gives an idea of the timeline that Jukka talked us through and a large proportion of the focus of today’s discussion was between the historical restoration and conservation approaches.

Jukka presenting this morning’s lecture on the ‘Development of Policies and Concepts in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage.’

Cultural tourism is said to have developed from the 17th-18th centuries and hence the development at this time of the two approaches to handling historic buildings. Western ideals were therefore introduced to the concept of ‘Cultural Pleuralism’ defined by Jukka [possibly using someone else’s words] as ‘the recognition of nations with different cultures and different values, not necessarily commensurate.’

An example where restoration may be considered appropriate today is with structures where the measurements were so precise when constructed that there is only one way in which a ruin could be re-built. This tends to be true of the Greek temples and the word ‘αναστήλωσις’ (‘anastilosis’), the Greek word meaning re-errect, is used in this context.

The second part of the morning focussed on ‘Restoration Theories in the 20th Century’ and ‘Cesare Brandi’s Theory of Conservation.’ This part of the discussion focussed more closely on the recent philosophical background to the conservation/restoration debate. It is interesting to note that Riegl (1857-1905) wrote that the conservative attitude was to reconstruct whilst the radical attitude was to conserve. The charter of Athens 1931 (essentially the conclusions of a conference held in Athens at this time) records the decision/consideration that we should abandon the idea of restoration and focus on conservation.

This afternoon Jukka and Simon Warrack took us for a tour around Ancient Rome (Foro Romano) visiting sites which put this morning’s theory into context. The colosseum is an excellent example of the restoration and conservation approaches in practice. The two broken edges of the circular structure have both been rebuilt to an extent, the western edge has been reconstructed in brick to replicate the original whilst the eastern edge has simply been consolidated retaining the position of the stonework at the time and without the loss of material. Neither is trying to act as a fake as they have clearly be constructed in a different material but both have their own philosophies to the conservation approach. 

The two edges of the ruined part of the colosseum.

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