e-Conservation Magazine • 23

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econservationthe online magazine No. 23, March 2012


4 On Disinvestment of Cultural HeritageBy Rui Bordalo

5 A Decade of Disorder: Conservation and the Digital RevolutionBy Daniel Cull

8 Pragmatism and Compromise in ConservationBy Peter D. Verheyen

11 News on econservation magazineBy Rui Bordalo

12 Urban Conservation in High Asia.The work of Andr Alexander and Tibet Heritage FundBy Pimpim de Azevedo and Yutaka Hirako

15 Faces of Memory: the Newest Technology of Preservation andRestoration of HandWritten and Printed HeritageReview by Tatyana Krupa

18 Back to the Roots Workshop on Textile Dyeing with Natural DyesReview by Anna Karatzani

22 XTACH 2011Review by Mark Beech


32 The Boxes for the Housing and Protection of Books:Observations on their History and DevelopmentBy Gianlorenzo Pignatti

47 Lining, Relining and the Concept of UnivocityBy Cecil Krarup Andersen

57 Salt Damage on the Wall Reliefs of Dendera Temple, EgyptBy Hesham Abbas Kamally

71 Security of Cultural Property: U.S. Engagement andPotential for ImprovementBy Erik Nemeth

78 First Aid of Rare Ptolemaic Textile in Tuna elGebel Excavation, EgyptBy Harby E. Ahmedeconser vation



On Disinvestment of Cultural Heritage

History has shown time and time again that (r)evolution is the only constant. Nevertheless, we seem always to be attracted to stability and we continually seek to maintain the status quo. The dictionary defines status quo as "the existing state of affairs (at a particular time)" or "the situation as it currently exists". It is hard for us to let go and to embrace constant change. But, as we will now see, maintaining the status quo may not be a fight worth having, as it may be part of the problem and not of the solution. Simply put, conservation is nothing more than an attempt at keeping the material memories of what has been. One way or another, it has never been more than that, except for our present times. Nowadays, we are trying to achieve more than that by preserving the perishable, the mundane, the superfluous present, and to keep it for the future. This can be seen, for example, in the attempts of archiving content of the internet, conserving ephemeral art, etc. Cultural heritage is all about our cultural identity, to know what we are and where we come from in order to understand how we are now. But if we value the material memories from the past, how is it that we are giving more attention to those of the present? I believe this is because society in general is changing and becoming more immediate: what is important is what we have now, not what we might have later, or what we had once, for that matter. From this change of paradigm into the search of immediate or shortterm satisfactions, we are starting to no longer pay so much attention to our cultural heritage as we are to our present actions. And of course, we dont invest in what we dont value anymore. That is becoming a problem, as the unfortunate tendency in recent years is a continuous disinvestment in cultural institutions. Regrettable examples are conservation courses and museums being closed everywhere. And those that have managed to survive are having their budgets severally diminished. We continue to value cultural heritage but its importance is falling behind other immediate interests. Disinvestment and budget cuts are now shaping the present state of cultural heritage and, hence, of the related professions. Although we should always hope for the better, it is not likely that investment in cultural heritage will become a priority in the near future. Assuming that this state is permanent, it is up to us to raise the continuous awareness so cultural heritage is not forgotten during these times of immediacy. Cultural heritage is by definition past and unchangeable. Thus, if we cant adapt it to our society, perhaps we should try to adapt our society to it. At the end of the day, it is only by embracing changes that we are going though that we can preserve cultural heritage and enable its present memory to be unaffected.

Rui Bordalo EditorinChief

econser vation

A DECADE OF DISORDER: CONSERVATION AND THE DIGITAL REVOLUTIONBy Daniel Cull "Revolution is but thought carried into action" Emma Goldman

In 1517 Martin Luther wrote a little tract known as the NinetyFive Theses, you might have heard of it? Less famous, though no less significant, was his friend Christoph von Scheurl, who in 1518 used a printing press to distribute Luthers ideas. In many respects it was this new media distribu tion system that caused the chaos of the protes tant revolution, out of which the world we know was born. Today our world is changing as a result of another media revolution, we can potentially date our entry into this revolution from the date conservationrestoration first appeared on Wikipedia, which it did on 25th February 2002, with the entry: The process of halting the decay and perhaps even renewing to the original state works of art undergoing change is called Conser vation and Restoration [1]. From such humble beginnings the entry has grown, and the site has even become a location for conservation projects [2]. Weve now reached the tenyear mark of our entry into the digital revolution, so with this in mind where do we as a profession stand with the wikitechnology that dragged us kicking and screaming into this new epoch? First, lets take a step back. Wikis can be traced back to 1994, when computer programmer Ward Cunnigham was working on what he called wiki wikiweb, named after the airport shuttles at Honolulu airport. What Cunningham had develo ped was a simple system that allowed anyone to make additions and edits to a webpage, and crueconser vation

cially for those additions to be tracked, and easily reverted. This turned the consumer into a creator fundamentally changing everything. In 2001 Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger embraced this idea to launch their new online encyclopedia, Wiki pedia. The site was launched with the following statement: http://www. wikipedia.com. Humor me. Go there and add a little article. It will take all of five or ten minutes. Larry [3] Looking back, especially after the SOPAinspired web "black out" [4], it is somewhat incredible to think that the website was launched with so little fanfare, and amazing to re member that the site didn't exist in the twentieth century! The crucial factor behind Wikipedias success is the community, and sense of collec tive ownership, that developed to contribute to, and to fight to keep it free from commercial activity. It is this community that cares for the site, guaranteeing its longevity and continued growth; in terms of quantity and quality. Wikitechnology is of course not the exclusive domain of Wikipedia, far from it. The conservation field is

news & view


A print screen of the Englishlanguage Wikipedia page on 18 January 2012, illustrating its worldwide blackout in opposition to U.S. legislation such as SOPA and PIPA. Image by Wikipedia (some rights reserved).

increasingly awash with wikibased projects whether it is material specific research projects [5], or institutional wide efforts to use wikitech nology [6]. The success, or failure, of these pro jects will very much relate to the extent that the institutions behind them forgo the traditional institutional role and come to terms with the new collaborative coordination model at the heart of this revolution. The socialmedia theor ist Clay Shirky stated that when institutions are told [...] there are other ways of coordinating the value; they go through something a little bit like the KblerRoss stages of reaction [7]. It seems that many conservation institutions have gone through denial and anger, and have cur rently reached bargaining, its difficult to find any that have yet truly accepted the chaotic col laborative systems of the digital world. As we consider how our field is being re/defined by the socialmedia revolution, it is worth remembering6

that Clay Shirky predicted 50 years of chaos, so if this is where we are after 10 years, I wonder where well be in 40 years time.

Notes: [1] Wikipedia Contributors, Conservationrestora tion, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Date of Revision: 25 February 2002 15:51 UTC, Available online permanent link: URL [2] D. Cull, Wikipedia Saves Public Art: An interview with Richard McCoy and Jennifer Geigel Mikulay, econservation magazine 14, 2010, pp. 1927, URL [3] L. Sanger, The Early History of Nupedia and Wikipedia: A Memoir, Posted by Timothy on Slashdot, April 18 2005, URLeconser vation


[4] L. Davies, Wikipedia begins blackout in protest against US antipiracy laws, The Guardian, January 18, 2012, URL [5] Salt Wiki, http://www.saltwiki.net [6] Collaborative Knowledge Base, American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, http://www.conservationwiki.com/ [7] C. Shirky, Institutions vs. Collaboration, TED Talk, July 2005, URL

The News section is bringing uptodate information on cultural heritage topics such as onsite conservation projects reports, reviews of conferences, lectures or workshops and any other kind of appropriate announcements. If you are involved in interesting projects and you want to share your experience with everybody else, please send us your news or announcements. For more details, such as deadlines and publication guidelines, please visit www.econservationline.com

DANIEL CULLConservator The Musical Instrument Museum Daniel Cull is from the West Country of the British Isles. He trained at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, where he received a BSc in Archaeology, MA in Principles of conser vation, and an MSc in Conservation for Archae ology