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11 May 2011

Wednesday 11th May 2011; Non Destructive Investigative Techniques, Palatino Visit & Stone Decay Terminology

Week 5 of 12
Module 4: Deterioration Mechanisms; Methods of Survey & Analysis

This morning we went to the offices of Giorgio Croci & Associates 
and met Giorgio's colleague Cristiano Russo who demonstrated some of the non-destructive equipment that they use for investigation of stone structures. We then went to Palatino (the Palatine Hill) and visited the 'House of Tiberius' excavation site- including being allowed into the underground vaults not yet open to the public. Here we met the architect and archaeologist in charge of the project who gave us some of the history and details of the work being carried out. Following that we visited
 Santa Maria Antiqua where 
we met Werner Schmidt, a leading figure in wall painting restoration, who showed us the conservation works being undertaken at this site.

Cristiano Russo demonstrating some of the equipment used by 
Giorgio Croci & Associates.

House of Tiberius excavation site.

Vaults below the House of Tiberius excavation site.

Werner Schmidt speaking to the group at Santa Maria Antiqua.

Conservators at work inside Santa Maria Antiqua.

This afternoon Marisa Laurenzi Tabasso, Conservation Science Consultant, spoke to us on the topic of 'Morphology of Stone Decay Including Terminology and Mapping Techniques', with a focus on the 'ICOMOS-ISCS: Illustrated Glossary on Stone Deterioration Patterns' (free PDF version available to download). The glossary began as an English : French version but is continuously being translated into additional languages; Irakli (Georgian participant) is currently working on the Georgian translation. It is the only international glossary on stone deterioration. By standardising terms in this manner, it allows us to know exactly what another person means when they use a specific term; cross discipline and cross language. I believe that anyone working with stone should have a copy of this book on their desk for reference, even if you have slightly different ideas on some of the definitions.

The glossary describes purely those features of stone deterioration that are visible with the naked eye and it therefore helps you to define the 'what?', but not the 'why?' or 'how?'. The terms relate to deterioration on specific stone elements and do not relate to the description of the deterioration of a whole structure. The glossary should be used as a 'tool' for conservation but it is important not to be constrained by it if your observations do not perfectly fit one of the descriptions.

Marisa also gave us some details about the original Italian Glossary 'Description of the Alteration- Terminology & Description'. This glossary groups 'Decay', 'Damage' and 'Deterioration' simply as 'Decay' and Marisa makes the point that the are all 'negative' terms, for which reason it can be difficult to decide which of the three terms present in the ICOMOS glossary should be chosen.

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