With regards to site
consolidation and preservation, this Brown University project at the Great
Temple adheres to the Charter of Venice. We firmly believe in minimum
intervention, the reversibility of any chemicals and materials used in
consolidation, and the use of new stone which is discernible from the
ancient ashlars. Exercising great care, we use modern technology, straps,
cranes, and front loaders.
of ancient structures of any kind are important in increasing our knowledge
of the past, however they also produce serious side effects by exposing
structures to the elements and vastly increasing the rate of decay. In
order to slow this process, we have employed certain measures simultaneously
with the excavation. With this in mind, a preliminary conservation survey
of the excavated portions of the Temple, at present, has been carried
out with a view to preserving and restoring various architectural features.
From the beginning, the fundamental philosophy of the Petra Great Temple
excavations has been the consolidation of the site and the re-erection
of columns while the excavations are in progress. Exposure of the architectural
features has been of serious concern, for the site is susceptible to erosive
heavy rains and earth tremors. This was acknowledged by the incorporation
of several additional consolidation procedures which have become part
of our research design.
In 1996, an application
was made to the World Monuments Fund who granted us an award expressly
for site preservation, conservation and consolidation. The Great Temple
Consolidation Project was made possible in part by a grant from the Samuel
H. Kress Foundation through World Monuments Watch, a program of the World
Monuments Fund. Briefly described, budget constraints forced us to be
selective of what we could undertake. While portable artifacts were photographed
in situ, architectural components have been removed to the lapidary
to the west of site, and all the small finds were taken to the J. L. Burckhardt
Center for detailed recording and analysis. After these artifacts had
been fully documented, the artifacts for the catalog were deposited with
the Department of Antiquities in Petra, and the remaining artifacts and
smaller architectural fragments were registered and boxed on the site
Now that all the
temple columns have been located, we have undertaken their reversible
re-erection. Using a tested mortar which in composition is similar to
the original Nabataean mortar, we have consolidated architectural elements
that have been imperiled both from 2000 years of erosion as well as by
recent excavations. The protective fencing that was placed around the
temple in 1995 had to be extended for the site's protection in 1996. In
addition, continuous excavation requires that certain trenches be left
opened for investigative purposes from season to season, creating safety
hazards for the numerous visitors to a site such as Petra. In order to
insure their safety, we thought it essential to partition off opened trenches
In August 1996, the
Great Temple project gained the approval of the Department of Antiquities
of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to carry out this consolidation. Dr.
Ghazi Bisheh, Director of the Department of Antiquities, was also anxious
to have this work undertaken as soon as possible. An experienced architect,
May Shaer, and experienced conservators, Zaki Aslan and Paul S. Fay supervised
the plan for the consolidation of the Great Temple architecture, which
has been carried out under the expert guidance of Dakhilallah Qublan and
some 20 local workmen. Their workmanship has been fully supported by the
Jordanian Department of Antiquities. This consolidation work was carried
out in the late fall of 1996 before the site was threatened by an earthquake
and winter rains.
The following abbreviated
listing includes measures we undertook for the preservation, restoration
and safety considerations, beginning with the Propylaea Steps in the north.
- The step foundations
have been partially consolidated by using mud mortar and small field
stones prior to the restoration of the steps using new ashlar blocks.
- Vegetation located
on the steps (and along the Colonnaded Street) has been removed in order
to prevent damage by roots to surrounding structures.
- Gaps along the
eastern portion of the walls have been filled with mud mortar and small
- The face of the
walls has been treated by pointing with mud mortar and stone wedges.
- Gaps occurring
between the column drums have been treated either by removing and re-placing
the drums or by injecting mud mortar (grouting) between them.
- The drainage channel
in front of the West Exedra has been covered with sand and has been
- The east wall of
the West Exedra has had the blocks removed and replaced, and this wall
has been stabilized.
- The top of the
West Exedra wall has been pointed.
Western Lateral Stairway Between the Lower Temenos and the Temple
- East and West Staircase
Walls have been treated with pointing and missing ashlars have been
replaced with new blocks.
- The staircase foundation
has been treated by the filling of missing sections with mud mortar,
and small field stones prior to the stair restoration with the original
ashlars uncovered in the excavation. New ashlars had also to be quarried
and cut to size for the missing treads. They were the set in place.
- A portion of the
small hexagonal pavers of the Temple Forecourt at the top of the West
Staircase were consolidated.
Lower Temenos South Hexagonal Pavement
- Hexagonal pavement
tiles may be replaced after refilling the space between the capstones
and the pavement level, however, further investigation of the Lower
Temenos substructure is required in order to determine the type and
weight of the fill.
- The ashlars forming
the drain in front of the East-West Retaining Wall have been consolidated,
and the drain has been backfilled.
- Exposed ceramic
drainage pipes were covered with sand and backfilled.
- The damaged hexagonal
pavement in the forecourt has been covered with a thin layer of sand
until such time as the pavement can be consolidated and restored. Further
excavation is required in order to determine how to proceed with the
consolidation of the pavement and its subsurface. (The use of geo-technic
cloth to cover this area was precluded by our budget.)
- The central staircase
foundation has been consolidated by using mud mortar and large pebbles.
A safety barrier has been erected at the top the staircase.
- Exposed sections
of the canalization system underlying the Forecourt and the extreme
eastern side of the Forecourt have undergone consolidation of their
crumbling edges by the use of mud and lime mortars. These exposed sections
have also required safety barriers.
- Gaps in the eastern
walls of the exterior Western Walkway have been replaced with worked
field stones bonded with mud mortar and pointing has reinforced the
- The Upper Temenos
Double Archway on the east leading from the Upper Temenos to the Lower
Market had ashlars that with excavation were in danger of collapse.
These ashlars have been consolidated with mud mortar.
The Great Temple
- The column drums
have been removed and re-erected. No mortar has been placed between
the drums, for in 1997 we will seek the advice of an architectural historian
to determine the entasis of these drum elements. At present our re-erection
of these drums is completely reversible.
- The Great Temple
Stylobate has been protected from further exfoliation and deterioration
by having its blocks pointed.
- The foundations
of the Stylobate have been consolidated by using mud mortar and small
field stones. This preceded the restoration of the stairs using existing
- A staircase has
been constructed from the Temple Forecourt to the Temple Porch, using
- Remnants of the
fragile plaster stucco decoration on the exterior south-western column
(Vartan Column) have been treated professionally with sealants and interior
injection in order to forestall deterioration.
- Column drums have
been removed and subsequently re-erected in their original positions
and mud mortar has been injected between the drums.
- Re-placement of
the fallen ashlars recovered in the excavation to their original positions
in the north-western wall.
- The north-western
section of the West Corridor Wall has been treated by pointing in order
to reinforce the wall, and to close large gaps between the ashlars.
- The East Anta Wall
ashlars have been consolidated. And the East Anta Attic base has been
supported and consolidated.
- Safety barriers
have been erected around the exposed section.
West Stairwell (rear)
- In order to insure
safe access to the West Vaulted room a partial restoration of the stairs
has been undertaken by the completion of the foundation level using
mud mortar and small field stones, and the placement of stair runners
found in the lapidary from previous excavation seasons. This project
has as yet not been completed.
- The West Staircase
wall with vaulted windows and door has been given a preliminary consolidation,
so it now can withstand excavation from the exterior.
West Adyton Room
- Gaps between stones
in these walls have been filled with a combination of mud mortar, stone
wedges and small field stones (pointing). The niche has been completed
by placing flat core fill stones and mortar in order to reinforce the
- Reinforcement of
the remaining vault stones on the eastern side of the room, by their
removal and replacement with a local mud mortar.
- There has been
consolidation at the top of the exterior wall to the south of the West
- Consolidation has
been undertaken of the Upper West Stairway Platform and steps.
- Northern Wall of
the heart shaped column (Suleiman) support niche (partial restoration).
Ashlars have been numbered, removed and have been replaced in their
- The gaps above
the designated ashlars have been cleared of debris and new ashlars have
- A drainage trench
has been constructed parallel to the southern wall of the Temple, north
of the column niche to divert water.
- The preservation
of this arch required simultaneous work by both excavators and conservators
in order to clear out debris and repair damage prior to further excavation
of adjoining areas. Further study of the construction of the arch is
still required by conservators along with architectural historians in
order to proceed. Preliminary consolidation has been carried forth.
Eastern Stairwell (rear)
- Restoration of
the first two rows of the vaulted ceiling was required before the consolidation
of the lower section of the surrounding walls was undertaken.
- The east interior
wall has been given preliminary pointing from the top of the steps to
the window in the East Wall overlooking the East Corridor.
- A safety barrier
has been put in place to limit public access to the stairwell.
- There has been
consolidation as can be seen looking from the East Corridor to the Neil
and Joe Columns to the East Exterior Temple Wall window.
- Consolidation of
the east interior wall elements as well as the pointing of the eastern
- Consolidation of
the Eastern Stairwell blocks (The stairways on both the east and the
west have yet to be restored.)
- Re-erection of
the rear temple columns Ric and Zbig has been undertaken. In the future
the newly-erected upper drums will have to be consolidated as well.
Damaged upper drum elements (those that have been exposed to the elements
have been removed and have been substituted with drums in better condition.
No mortar as yet has been used to consolidate the upper elements of
these drums, but once excavation exposes their surfaces, consolidation
will be necessary.
Conservation involves the analysis, treatment, and preservation of the Great
Temple. It is hoped that we have helped to preserve this monument, for we
have routinely maintained records of both the condition and treatment of
the various sectors of this site that we have participated in recovering.