Sav­ing a Mas­ter­piece

Uzbekistan Today (English) - - CULTURE AND ARTS -

The Afrosiyob Mu­seum of His­tory of Sa­markand has hosted a solemn event on the oc­ca­sion of the com­ple­tion of the project on the preser­va­tion of wall paint­ing of the 7th cen­tury ‘Hall of Am­bas­sadors.’ The event brought to­gether the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the diplo­matic corps, sci­en­tist­sarche­ol­o­gists, re­stor­ers, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the pub­lic.

In 1965, a his­tor­i­cal event took place in the his­tory of the study of the ma­te­rial cul­ture of the peo­ples of Uzbek­istan. In an­cient Sa­markand, in the ter­ri­tory of the an­cient set­tle­ment Afrosiyob, ar­chae­ol­o­gists dis­cov­ered a palace com­plex with wall poly­chrome paint­ings dat­ing back to the 7th cen­tury. They dec­o­rated all four walls of a large square hall of the ruler of an­cient Sa­markand. They de­pict the sto­ries about diplo­matic re­la­tions with neigh­bor­ing states. The find of the mas­ter­piece of Sog­dian art be­came a sen­sa­tion in arche­o­log­i­cal sci­ence and at­tracted the at­ten­tion of the world pub­lic.

“At that time, we did not have ex­perts in the restora­tion of ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ma­te­ri­als or the meth­ods of con­ser­va­tion of wall mon­u­men­tal paint­ing,” says Ma­rina Reu­tova, head of the restora­tion de­part­ment at the In­sti­tute of Arche­ol­ogy of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbek­istan. “The ex­ca­vated paint­ings were again cov­ered with earth. They were again cleared in the 70s of the last cen­tury. Later they were trans­ferred to the Afrosiyob Mu­seum of His­tory of Sa­markand and im­me­di­ately be­came one of the main ex­hibits, which at­tracted a large num­ber of tourists.”

Un­for­tu­nately, over the past decades the con­di­tion of the paint­ings has wors­ened. In or­der to pre­serve the mas­ter­piece of world sig­nif­i­cance, in 2014, with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of ex­perts from France, Switzer­land, the United States, the Repub­lic of Korea and Uzbek­istan, a project of a phased in­te­grated restora­tion of wall paint­ings was launched. The paint­ings from the worn-out wooden frame were trans­ferred to a mod­ern fiber­glass and por­ous alu­minum base. Such a sub­strate is not sub­ject to the in­flu­ence of tem­per­a­ture changes and de­for­ma­tion, and there­fore, en­sures the preser­va­tion of paint­ing in its orig­i­nal form for many decades.

“Thanks to the joint ef­forts of the spe­cial­ists of many coun­tries, we suc­ceeded in suc­cess­fully im­ple­ment­ing com­plex mea­sures to en­sure the fur­ther preser­va­tion of the Afrosiyob wall in­scrip­tions,” Mme Vi­o­laine de Ville­meur, Am­bas­sador Ex­tra­or­di­nary and Plenipo­ten­tiary of France to Uzbek­istan, says. “This mas­ter­piece is the prop­erty of all mankind.”

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