Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean — 16.2004(2005)

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MARINA EL-ALAMEIN

EGYPT

THE ANASTYLOSIS AND CONSERVATION
OF ARCHITECTURAL NICHES
IN MARINA EL-ALAMEIN

Rafal Czerner

Putting together sculptural elements of
architectural decoration in an effort to re-
store structures of sometimes monumental
nature can be the most interesting task for
a conservator of archaeological sites. It is
certainly a challenge. On top of this, ana-
stylosis in such historic complexes is the
sole restoration activity that is accepted
and recommended by all current conserva-
tion doctrines. Apart from Jaroslaw Dobro-
wolski's now well-known reconstruction
ofthe monumental pillar tombs, which was
the first conservation intervention of the
kind to be carried out in Marina el-
Alamein,1 the anastylosis of three elegant
aediculae, discovered in three separate
buildings of the ancient town, constitutes
an especially noteworthy example of this

kind of execution. Work on the project,
now completed, lasted a number of sea-
sons.2
Exacting care for surviving elements of
architectural decoration and their proper,
one would even say didactic, display is
a special duty in view of the uniqueness of
the form of these elements. These objects
are virtually the sole example of a specific
type characterized by simplification and
decorative geometrizing. This kind of
stylization used to be connected chiefly
with Petra, where architectural decoration
representing similar forms was first re-
cognized and consequently referred to as
'Nabatean'.3 Soon, however, it was recog-
nized in other regions as well.4 Stylized
elements, foremost a specific type of

1 J. Dobrowolski, PAM II, Reports 1990 (199D 44-47; PAM III, Reports 1991 (1992), 39-48; PAM V, Reports 1993
(1994), 34-39.
2 The work was carried out by members of the Polish-Egyptian Restoration Mission to Marina el-Alamein, including:
Aftdrzej B. Biernacki, archaeologist; Eryk Bunsch, sculptor conservator; Rafai Czerner, architect conservator (anastylosis
design); Irma Fuks-Rembisz, sculptor conservator; Wieslaw Grzegorek, architect and building engineer (in charge of
the building works); Stanislaw Medeksza, architect conservator (Mission director); Malgorzata Ujma, art restorer (wall
paintings), Piotr Zambrzycki, art restorer (stone), responsible for choosing conservation methods.
3 E. Netzer, Nabataische Architektur. Insbesondere Graber und Tempel (Mainz am Rhein 2003), 162; A. Kammerer,
Petra et la Nabatene. L'Arabie Petree et les Arabes du Nord dans leurs rapports avec la Syrie et la Palestine jusqu'a
l'Islam (Paris 1930), 488.
4 A. Negev, Tempel, Kirchen und Zisternen. Ausgrabungen in der Wiiste Negev. Die Kultur der Nabataer (Stuttgart
1983), 110; G. Foerster, Masada V. The Yigael Yadin Excavations 1963-1965 Final Reports. Art and Architecture
(Jerusalem 1995), 113-123; G.R.H. Wright, Ancient Building in Cyprus, Vol. I (Leiden-New York-Koln 1992), 458;
L. Borchardt, "Der Augustustempel auf Philae",Jdl XVIII (1903), 73f., 83-84, Fig. 6, 14 and PI. 3; O. Rubenson, "Aus
griechisch-romischen Hausern des Fayum",JdI XX (1905), 10, Fig. 19; M. Sabottka, "Ausgrabungen in der West-
Nekropole Alexandriens (Gabbari)", in: Das romisch-byzantimsche Agypten, Akten des Inter. Symp. 26-30 Sept. 1978
in Trier (Mainz 1983), 200-201, PI. 41.1; W.A. Daszewski, "Nouvelles recherches sur la cote Nord de l'Egypte. Un
type meconnu de chapiteaux", EtTrav XV (1990), 113-114.

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