Saving a Masterpiece
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.”