Date: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - at 7:00
Location: Embassy of Italy (3000 Whitehaven Street NW, Washington, DC 20008)
Archaeology in the Mediterranean Region: A Cultural and Economic Challange for a Better Future
The Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington, in collaboration with the Centro di Conservazione Archeologica - Rome, present the conference "Archaeology in the Mediterranean Region: Economic Challenges for a Better Future" by Roberto Nardi and Andreina Costanzi Cobau
the opening of the exhibition "The Ancient Giants of Mont'e Prama: From Stone Fragments to a New Image for Sardinia".
Presented Under the Patronage of the Sardinian Regional Government.
Just before the so-called “Arab Spring” began, the Centro di Conservazione Archeologica (CCA) of Rome was asked by Getty Foundation to conduct an educational program on mosaic conservation dedicated to conservators/restorers from the Departments of Antiquities of Syria, Jordan, Tunisia and Libya in the framework of a broader program called MOSAIKON. Despite some practical difficulties linked to the instability in the region, the project was concluded in June 2016 in Ephesus, Turkey. This program produced a new generation of professional restorers ready to face actual dramatic situations and opens an important channel of communication with those countries.
Education is also what draws students from American universities and colleges to Sardinia, Italy, to work on the conservation of one of the most surprising discoveries in archaeology of recent decades: the prehistoric sculptures, the Giants of Mont’e Prama. Today, after a three-year conservation program carried out by CCA-Rome, 5178 fragments of carved stone excavated during the 1970s have been reassembled into more than 30 gigantic statues (average height 2.2 m / 7.2 ft.) portraying archers, boxers, warriors and models of nuraghe (cone-shaped stone towers) dating from an unspecified period, ranging from the 9th -8th century B.C. New excavations are currently ongoing and are unearthing hundreds of new finds, thus reopening the history of ancient sculpture in the Mediterranean region.
In 2007 the CCA of Rome, directed by Roberto Nardi, was awarded a contract to design and implement a conservation project aimed at displaying the statues in Museums. It consists of a “new excavation” through the mountain of cases containing the fragments, with the objective of reassembling some of the statues and the goal of understanding this unique phenomenon. Thanks to a three-year conservation program, after almost 30 centuries, the statues of Mont’e Prama have become a topic of interest, and the collection is now on display at the museums of Cagliari and Cabras.
The Mont’e Prama Conservation Program has been a cultural, technical and financial challenge that has allowed a unique, forgotten page of history to re-emerge among specialists and the wider public. Accurate study and technical analyses have yielded a significant amount of new information about the Nuragic civilization, which was later published in three volumes. The project was a multidisciplinary effort aiming to bring together conservation, museology, public engagement, community involvement and communication on a regional, national and international level. The success of this project brought in new resources, and a new excavation was organized in 2015 which resulted in 4000 new fragments, six new sculptures with two new categories, opening a new phase of this stimulating program.
The exhibit features the Giants of Mont’e Prama in Sardinia, gigantic statues portraying archers, boxers, warriors and models of prehistoric nuraghe dating from an unspecified period, circa 9th-8th century B.C.
Photos by Araldo De Luca for Centro di Conservazione Archeologica of Rome.
In 2015 the Mont’e Prama conservation project received the Europa Nostra Award and the Public Choice Award with the following motivation:
“The Jury was intrigued by the complexity of this restoration project, and impressed by its significance in developing our understanding of this under-appreciated culture. The jigsaw puzzle of reassembling the pieces, without any deep penetration of the original stone, and avoiding the use of drills or insertion of different materials, allows for the possibility of modifications and additions in the future on the images of the statues. All the restoration operations have been realized openly, with the opportunity for the public to visit the on-going works. The importance for the local population is clear, and enhances their identity with people who have preceded them on this big island.”
The project was recently recognized for The Best in Heritage 2016 Award in Dubrovnik.
Roberto Nardi received a degree in archaeology from the University of Rome and then graduated in conservation of archaeological materials at the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro, Rome. In 1982 he founded the Centro di Conservazione Archeologica (CCA), a private company carrying out public commissions in the field of conservation of ancient monuments and archaeological sites. He has directed over 50 projects and training courses in 14 countries, including the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Temple of Vespasian in the Roman Forum, the Atrium of the Capitoline Museum in Rome (Keck Award 2014), the town of Zeugma in Turkey, the wall paintings at the Amiriya Madrasa in Yemen (the Aga Kahn Award for Islamic Architecture 2007), the mosaic of the Transfiguration in the Monastery of Saint Catherine in Sinai and the prehistoric sculptures of Mont’e Prama (Europa Nostra Prize 2015). In addition, he has published 80 technical articles. Roberto Nardi was Kress Lecturer at the American Institute of Archaeology for 2010/2011 and is President of the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics (ICCM).
Andreina Costanzi Cobau graduated in 1983 in conservation of paintings (canvas and mural) at the Istituto Centrale del Restauro, Roma; Laura and Paolo Mora were her teachers. With them, she worked at the Giotto frescoes in Assisi (1983) and at Mantegna’s “Camera degli Sposi” in Mantua (1983). In the same institute, in 1985, she specialized in the conservation of stone monuments. Ever since she wrote her thesis at the ICR, she has been committed to rediscovering lime techniques of ancient times and to reusing them today in applied conservation projects. In 1987 she oversaw the conservation project of the Basilica Sotterranea di Porta Maggiore and Casa Bellezza (1st cent. AD) for the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma. In 2004, she received the Keck Award (IIC International Institute of Conservation of London) for the best program of communication in conservation with “Aperto per Restauro,” the conservation of the Centaurus at the Capitoline Museum in Rome, a CCA project. She has taken part in Centro di Conservazione Archeologica conservation projects since she joined CCA in 1983. In 1990 she became a CCA partner and is in charge of mural painting conservation. She is also currently in charge of CCA documentation. Prof. Cobau has been a member of the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics (ICCM) since 1985. She was responsible for the conservation of the Nuragic sculptures of Mont’e Prama and published a volume dedicated to the restoration of the collection.
Centro di Conservazione Archeologica (CCA) is a private firm operating on public commission in the field of conservation of monuments, works of art and archaeological sites. It was founded in 1982 by graduates of the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro as a highly specialized professional venture. In 35 years of activity, CCA has carried out over 50 interventions on monuments of significant historical value, held professional training courses in several different countries and published more than 100 technical articles in eight different languages. The Centro works regularly with international institutions for the conservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage: ICCROM, ISCR, UNESCO, UNDP, the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), the Getty Foundation and the Packard Humanities Institute (PHI).
Conservation projects carried out in Italy have included the Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum; the Temple of Vespasian; the Crypta Balbi; the Atrium's statuary collection; and the Lapidary gallery in the Capitoline Museum - all in Rome. In 2015, CCA’s project for the conservation and reassembling of Mont’e Prama Nuragic Sculptures in Cabras was awarded the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards.
CCA has held training courses in Peru, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Israel, Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia.
CCA has been working in the Middle East since 1990. In Turkey, CCA carried out the conservation during the excavation project of the Roman city of Zeugma, which risked being submerged by the creation of an artificial lake. During this project, in 2005, CCA received special recognition from the Turkish Ministry of Culture for its commitment and for the quality of its work. In 2003-2004, CCA restored the entire cycle of 16th-century wall paintings in one of the most important Koranic schools of Yemen, the Amiriya Madrasa in Radà. In 2007, CCA received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for this project. Recently, CCA worked on the conservation of the mosaic of the Transfiguration in Saint Catherine's Monastery in Sinai, a cycle of 6th-century Byzantine mosaics of extraordinary importance.
Since 2011, CCA has conducted training courses in mosaic conservation for restorers/conservators from the Department of Antiquities of Syria, Libya, Jordan and Tunisia within the framework of MOSAIKON, an international initiative to support mosaic conservation in the Mediterranean area. Since 2011, it has also organized summer courses for colleges and universities in the US, featuring theoretical teaching and hands-on activities.