In cooperation with the Executive Authority of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), the Ministry of Culture, we are providing technical assistance to the Grand Egyptian Museum Conservation Center attached to the museum.
The project consists mainly of the following two components: training of the GEM conservators and supporting of artifacts database development. Short-term experts in conservation and long-term and short-term experts in database development are currently implementing the project.
The Conservation Center is prerequisite for opening the GEM because the artifacts to be displayed in the GEM first need to be gathered from various places in Egypt to the Conservation Center, where they are conserved or/and restored before being displayed in the museum. Therefore, it is important to have good conservation facilities and well trained conservators before opening the GEM.
The accurate database on the artifacts is also required to open the GEM because the selection of the artifacts for display and their transfer to the museum can be done only on the basis of the accurate information. Especially, information such as the stored places and the sizes of the artifacts is important to make a transfer plan of the artifacts. At present, however, there is no comprehensive artifact inventory available in any museum and storeroom the artifacts for the GEM are stored. This is the reason why we have to support development of the database on the artifacts for the GEM.
Currently, more than twenty conservators are appointed to work on conservation of the selected artifacts for the GEM. In cooperation with the National Research Institute for Cultural Prosperities, Tokyo, we have been organizing training workshops on conservation by material such as paper and textile.
We organized five day workshops consisting of both lectures and practical training. Top conservators in each field were invited as the lecturers.
Workshops on Conservation in FY 2008 & FY 2009
|24-28/03/2008||Paper||Dr. Masami Sakamoto,|
Expert in paper conservation
|27-31/07/2008||Textile||Dr. Mie Ishii & Dr. Yuko Fukatsu,|
Experts in textile conservation
|1-5/03/2009||Metals||Dr. Stavroula Golfomitsou,|
Expert in metal conservation
In the workshop, both theoretical and practical training were provided to twenty-two participants. In practical training the participants tried textile dyeing to deepen understanding of the nature of textile, which is important for textile conservation. They were also trained to write condition reports using real artifacts. The workshop included state-of-art training components and it was highly appreciated by the participants.
On the other hand, there were limitations as well. We could not provide hands-on conservation training using real artifacts mainly because the Conservation Center was not open at that time and we had to use an ordinary meeting room as the venue. Some participants requested more practical training in their course evaluation sheets. We also could not meet all the needs of more than twenty-two conservators, whose skills and fields of specialty vary.Workshop on Metal Conservation
Considering the challenges we faced in the textile workshop, we decided to organize a metal conservation workshop in the Egyptian Museum, where we were allowed to use for the training several real artifacts, which are usually difficult to be taken out from the museum. The participants learned how to document corrosion of the artifacts by observing the real objects displayed in exhibition hall of the museum. They also learn how to report on the current conditions of the artifacts, the damages received in the past, and the marks of previous conservation work with the real objects in their hands. The project is supposed to be implemented by capable experts not only from Japan but also from abroad. As the first attempt, we invited a lecturer from Greece this time. The training courses on stone conservation and packing and transfer of artifacts are scheduled.
In addition to the training courses in Egypt, we decided to send the GEM conservators to the training courses in Japan because they can have more professional and practical training there without opening of the Conservation Center. After the participants returned from Japan, they are asked to make presentation on what they learned and experienced in Japan in a post-training briefing session to share information with their colleagues and others who are interested.
Training Courses on Conservation held in Japan in FY 2009
|Period||Subject||Conducted by||Number of|
|8/07 – 2/09/2009||Textile (advanced)||National Research Institute for Cultural Prosperities, Tokyo||2|
|26/ 08 –18/09/2009;||Conservation Equipment||National Research Institute for Cultural Prosperities, Tokyo||2|
|26 /09– 11/10/2009||Packing and Transfer of the Artifacts||National Research Institute for Cultural Prosperities, Tokyo and Nippon Express Co., Ltd.||7|
According to the original project plan, a conservation expert was supposed to be dispatched to make a long-term training plan in addition to conducting short-term workshops. However, it was found that no one has expertise enough to provide technical advices on all types of conservation work in Egypt because the area of specialty in the field of conservation is divided by material of artifacts. Therefore, we decided to send a team of conservation experts to make a conservation training program for the full-fledged phase starting next year.
The number of the artifacts to be transferred to GEM is more than a hundred thousand. The Archeological Unit of the GEM had been working on creating the artifact database for this number in the basement of the Egyptian Museum. They had already completed the data entry of sixty thousand pieces. The JICA Expert in Database had been providing them technical assistance in the field of maintenance and improvement of the database software. However, mistakes and duplications were found in the entered data due to lack of the rules and procedures of data entry. Besides, the members of the input team had different levels of knowledge of Egyptology and commitment, and the core members finally resigned from the Unit. Having faced such a situation, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture requested JICA to assist in building a system of artifact database creation. As a result of discussion with the Egyptian side, JICA decided to organize the Archaeological Database Department (ADD) to verify and develop the database.
The ADD is a project team of Egyptians set up by JICA, which is seeking the most appropriate system and procedures of database creation by restructuring the database created by the Archeological Unit of the GEM. After JICA’s support ends, the GEM will take over the ADD members as well as the system and complete the database by itself.
The current work of the ADD is to verify the artifact data entered by the Archeological Unit by examining the artifacts one by one. The ADD members go to the museums and site storerooms, where they identify the artifacts registered in the database, confirm the registration numbers and the sizes and take the photos according to the standard rules. Then, in collaboration with the conservators of the Conservation Unit of the GEM, they pack the examined pieces into wooden boxes and kept the boxes in the area assigned for GEM inside the storerooms. The following are the work steps in the storerooms.
Step 1: Preparation
Step 2: Identifying the Artifacts
Step 3: Checking the Register Books
Step 4: Measuring the Artifacts
Step5: Photographing the Artifacts
Step 6: Storing the Artifacts in the GEM Box
Step 7: Checking Inventory Sheets & Printing out Photographs
Since November, 2008, four managers and twelve young Egyptians who majored in Egyptology have engaged in the ADD work. Before starting the work, an orientation workshop was organized, in which the managers explained to the new staff the work procedures and provided practical training on measurement and photographing. The staff members were very enthusiastic to learn in the workshop being excited about working for this historical project.
The ADD has been working on checking the artifacts in site storerooms since December, 2008. They have already finished checking the artifacts in four storerooms and currently working in the fifth storeroom.
In addition to the site work, the ADD often revise the workflow in the site and set rules of the data verification in the office so that they can manage the work more efficiently. Besides, they are currently negotiating with the people concerned in the Egyptian Museum to start the work in its storerooms soon.
The storerooms in which the examination of the artifacts has been finished
|Tel-Basta||12/2008 – 02/2009||84|
The ADD staff members also study on the periodic features of the artifacts and make presentations on what they have studied among themselves. It will help them to produce more accurate data on artifacts.
Topics of Presentations
|1||The Function of Stelae & The God Apis|
|2||Tutankamun, Lotus flower & God Bs|
|3||Manshiat Ezaat Palette|
|4||Headrest of Tutankamun|
|5||The False Door of Katepy|
|7||False Door of Tep-em-ankh|
|8||The Bust of Tutankamun|
|9||Mekhnty In Irty|
|10||River Boat of Meket-Ra|
|11||Funerary Stela of Medja Seshet|
|12||Magical Stela of Horus|
|13||The Shabti Box of Djed-Maat-Iw.s-ankh|
|14||Egyptian Sculpture of the late period|