Posted by: imalqata | February 12, 2014

Preserving Mud Brick Walls at Malqata

Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014

Series of walls near palace entry. Note new mud bricks in foreground

Series of walls near palace entry. Note new mud bricks in foreground

The conservation project to protect the standing mud brick walls of the Main Palace and several ancillary walls of Malqata began three days ago, and while this is a relatively short season, we are making substantial progress. Four areas have been identified for treatment – the main gate area; one wall of the primary courtyard of the palace; the southern enclosure wall of the palace; and several low walls that have been damaged recently and are increasingly threatened by local vehicular traffic. As the project continues, modifications will no doubt be required as specific conditions are identified.

Series of walls near palace gate being conserved. Capping bricks added on the northern walls of the entrance corridor.

Series of walls near palace gate being conserved. Capping bricks added on the northern walls of the entrance corridor.

Conditions of the walls vary, but most are in poor conditions, the result of exposure to the micro-environment and human and animal traffic. Our response to the conditions is to prevent or substantially reduce continual decay by supporting unstable walls, by replacing critical features, and by adding new mud bricks to the top surfaces. The goal of the project is to protect the original fabric from decay, but the results also add an important dimension, providing a clearer interpretation of the spaces defined by the walls.

New mud bricks stacked and ready for installation.

New mud bricks stacked and ready for installation.

We use natural hand-made mud bricks that include no additives, and mud for the mortar. The bricks have been made in two sizes to replicate the original sizes used in the palace. The smaller size is 14cm x 28cm x 9cm and the larger size is 38-40cm x 19 cm x 9cm; each of the bricks is stamped ” JEM” for Joint Expedition to Malqata. The only “foreign ” material is a porous plastic grid material used as a separation layer between the ancient masonry and the new mud bricks; we also use clean white sand as a separation layer in some cases.

Tony Crosby

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