The Mediterranean region possesses an extraordinarily rich and varied archaeological heritage, including a vast number of mosaic pavements from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods that represent both artistic creations and historic documents of the past. In recent decades, there have been increased national and international efforts to create better conditions for the conservation of these exceptional remains from the ancient world; however, in the absence of a coordinated strategic approach to the problem, many challenges still exist. Needs continue to exceed resources and important mosaics deteriorate at a rapid rate or are lost forever.
To address this situation, an international initiative called MOSAIKON: A Regional Strategy for the Conservation of Mosaics in the Mediterranean Region was created in 2008 by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), the Getty Foundation, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), and the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics (ICCM).
MOSAIKON is dedicated to improving the conservation, presentation and maintenance of mosaics in the Mediterranean region, both those in situ and those in museums and storage. MOSAIKON strives to strengthen the network of professionals concerned with the preservation of mosaic heritage; improve the knowledge and skills of technicians, conservators, site managers, museum professionals, and decision makers charged with caring for mosaics in situ and in museums; develop locally available and affordable conservation practices for both in situ and museum conservation; and promote the dissemination and exchange of information among professionals engaged in this field.
To help achieve these goals, MOSAIKON is implementing a series of regional courses specifically dedicated to the complex set of challenges presented by the conservation and management of in situ mosaics on archaeological sites. The first Regional Training Course on the Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites with Mosaics took place from 2010-2011 at the World Heritage site of Tyre, Lebanon. The second course was held recently at the World Heritage site of Nea Paphos, Cyprus, home to spectacular mosaics from the Hellenistic, Roman and Early Christian periods. Building on the GCI's long history of involvement in the conservation of Cypriot cultural heritage, this course was organised in partnership with the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus and the Archaeological Research Unit of the University of Cyprus. The three-week course trained 20 archaeologists, architects, and conservators from 12 different countries of the South Eastern Mediterranean region and the Balkans (Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Serbia, Tunisia) in methods of documentation and recording; site management planning; deterioration processes of mosaics; basic conservation interventions; and site presentation and interpretation. After this three-week workshop, the course participants will continue learning through a mentoring period and will reconvene to discuss their progress and to share experiences.
The University of Cyprus was represented in this important training course by the Director of the Archaeological Research Unit, Prof. Demetrios Michaelides, and research staff Dr Maria Dikomitou-Eliadou. The participation, in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities, of the University of Cyprus in this regional course underlies the active role that the university, and particularly the Archaeological Research Unit, has in promoting and safeguarding the cultural heritage of Cyprus and the surrounding regions.