• Wanja Wedekind

A proposal for Petra

“Surveys, studies and designs for the conservation of the Palace Tomb in the Petra Archaeological Park” for UNESCO

The ancient rock city of Petra, which lies south of the Dead Sea in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, displays with its unusual sandstone architecture abundant evidence of the Nabatean culture. Petra has gained international recognition for the around 600 hundred rock facades carved out of the sandstone bedrock. In 1995, the approximately 4000 individual monuments cut from the sandstone rock were added to the list of World Heritage Site of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).

Today, this unique monumental rock architecture is in danger due to the action of flash-floods, decomposition, poor maintenance, the lack of conservation and degradation due to progressive weathering. Today more than 50 % of the surfaces of the monuments are damaged by weathering phenomena. Nearly 12 % are totally destroyed by tafoni weathering because of high contamination with rock salt (halite, NaCl).

Within the framework of initial investigations in the last 20 years, we carried out initial investigations on numerous grave facades of the so-called Kings Wall (Fig. 2 a, Fig. 3). This also included the Palace Tomb (Fig. 2 b - f).

In February 2020 the Amman office of UNESCO gave a request for proposal for “Surveys, studies and designs for the conservation of the Palace Tomb in the Petra Archaeological Park”.

The Palace Tomb or "floor grave" with its width of 47 m and height of approx. 43 m is the largest rock facade of Petra (Fig. 1). The building stones and rock sections of the facade show numerous different states of preservation. Erosion, salt weathering and earthquakes have caused various types of damages to the individual components. These range from near-surface to structural damages.

For this proposal ACS can trace back on a background of practical restoration experience at site, several investigations from 2000 to 2019, which included diploma and doctoral theses and own research campaigns.

For application of this project ACS cooperates with Bitar Consultants, Architects, Engineers & Project Managers from Amman/Jordan as well as with Fokus GmbH Leipzig/Germany.

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