Monastery of Saint Catherine in Sinai: the conservation of the mosaic of the Transfiguration.
The mosaic of the Transfiguration in the basilica of the Monastery of St. Catherine's in Sinai was
done in the 6th century at the behest of the emperor Justinian. It has a rich chromatic range of
glass paste, glass, gold and silver tesserae and tesserae in stone and it is a jewel of early Byzantine
art. Over the centuries, it has suffered extensive damage due to earthquakes and intense visitation
by pilgrims from all corners of the world. Some of the signs of deterioration were detachment
of the preparatory layer from the wall, bulges in the mosaic surface, and lacunae (gaps) in
the tesselatum. The area of Christ was so badly decayed that the mosaic was close to collapse, as
an article of Kurt Weizman on the National Geographic reported in 1964. These problems led the
monastic community to undertake a delicate program of consolidating and conserving the mosaic,
and the CCA, Center for Archaeological Conservation, Rome, was asked to do the restoration. The
actual work began in 2005, thanks to financing from the Emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa
al Thani, following a project plan the CCA developed in 2001 for the Getty Conservation Institute
(GCI). The mosaic will be open to the public during Spring 2011.
More information: ccaroma.org
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