“Mosaics” series now available online for free download

July 24, 2015

Snapshot of a mosaic in TunisiaThe ICCM conference proceedings are a unique set of publications that allow study, among other topics, of the evolution of ideas and techniques for the conservation and restoration of ancient mosaics.

In December 2014 ICCROM announced that Mosaics 1, 2 and 3 were available for free download.

Now we are pleased to be making available the Rome, Périgueux, Aquileia, Soria, Palencia, Conimbriga, Nicosia and Thessaloniki conference proceedings. We thank the organizers for sharing the authorizations with us.

Some words on ICCM and its conference proceedings

In 1986 the conference was held in Soria, Spain. The chosen title clearly indicated a shift in how the future of a recently discovered pavement mosaic might be seen: “In situ conservation”. Supporters of pavement removal and transfer faced off against those who defended the less brutal alternative of leaving the material in situ. In this debate the first party had the advantage, but the lines were already starting to move.

In 1989 to allow for more discussion, the theme was once again “In situ conservation”. The conference was again held in Spain, this time in Palencia. More and more participants addressed the chosen theme, and examples of both success and failure were discussed.

In 1992 the conference moved for the first time to Portugal, to the Conimbriga Museum, located at the site of the same name. For the first time, the topic of presentation was added to the two classic topics of conservation and protection. By this choice, the Bureau of the Committee indicated that it considered “conservation” not as an end but as a means to showcase the mosaic floors, enabling the public to appreciate their messages. For this reason, articles dealing only with tesserae or support were reduced in number, in favour of communications featuring the words “visitor” and “public”.

In 1995 the conference moved to Cyprus, at the other end of Europe. The topic showed the evolution of an ever-more obvious thematic development: “Mosaics make a site: conservation in-situ of mosaics on archaeological sites”. In the minds of participants, it had become clear that once an archaeological site had been stripped of objects, architectural elements and mural paintings, it could not hope to attract the visitor’s interest if the mosaics themselves were removed as well. For the first time, questions were presented that all site managers should ask themselves when a pavement mosaic is discovered, along with various potential answers. On an organizational level, the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) came in support of the ICCM, which enabled a publication of much higher quality.

In 1999 for the first time the conference was held in two different locations, both of them prestigious sites, Arles and Saint-Romain-en-Gal, with the theme “Conserve to present”. It was an opportunity to deepen the themes discussed in Cyprus, including maintenance planning, protecting in order to present, maintenance and presentation. It was also an opportunity to talk about the re-restoration of pavements whose previous treatments had begun to age badly.

In 2002 Greece hosted the conference in Thessaloniki, with the theme “Wall and pavement mosaics” in order to take best advantage of the many mosaics adorning the walls of Byzantine churches in the city. The participants thus had the exceptional opportunity to study and admire them by means of scaffolding that the organizers had set in place.

In 2005 for the first time the conference crossed the Mediterranean, to be held in Hammamet. For many participants, it was a chance to discover the quantity and exceptional quality of pavements uncovered in Tunisia. As the occasion marked nearly 30 years of the ICCM Committee’s activity, it was also a moment to reflect on the paths followed, whence the theme “Lessons learned: reflecting on the theory and practice of mosaic conservation”. The presentations dealt with mosaics exhibited both in museums and at sites. With respect to sites, for the first time conservation plan was presented of a site, Nora in Sardinia, with a precise assessment of its technical and financial requirements. Also for the first time, a full session was dedicated to training. An excursion was organized to enable participants to see the impressive results of the joint program of the Institute for Tunisian Heritage and GCI over several years, to train technicians to maintain pavement mosaics at sites open to the public.

In 2008 the 10th Conference was hosted in Palermo, capital of Sicily. Three hundred eighteen participants, thirty countries represented, a program of visits to Villa Armerina and Monreale Cathedral meant that ICCM’s thirtieth anniversary was celebrated in style. The cherry on the cake was a volume of 787 pages that presented all exchanges and communications taking place over the five days. It was an opportunity to have a long-awaited session dedicated to large-scale projects, which shows just how far the committee had come from the days when some papers detailed the analysis of a tessera! The conference also marked the launch of the “MOSAIKON” program, in which the three organizations most engaged in mosaics conservation (GCI, ICCM and ICCROM) combined their experiences to propose medium-term solutions.

Palermo proved that the Committee was now an essential partner for all those responsible for the overall conservation of pavement mosaics.

In 2011 the conference left Europe for the second time, to be held at Meknes in Morocco, not far from the site of Volubilis. The theme was “Managing an archaeological site with mosaics: real problems with practical solutions”. This forced the participants to come out of their laboratories, their storage facilities, their museums, and to see farther and wider than they had before.

In 2014 the 12th conference was held in Alghero, Sardinia: “Conservation of mosaics: at what cost?” At this conference were presented papers addressing not only aesthetic cost, but also financial costs, cost of training and socio-political costs. For the first time, many participants coming from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco attended the conference, and presented several communications. This was a direct result of the training component of the MOSAIKON programme, launched in Palermo.

Access the ICCM conference proceedings here

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