Lifting and restoring an ancient mosaic : The Medusa mosaic

The salvage operation

 

Patrick Blanc and Marie-Laure Courboulès

Mosaic Conservation and Restoration Workshop of the
Museum of Arles et de la Provence antiques

     

Almost one year after its discovery in 1995 on the site of the former Diana Theatre, an operation to lift the mosaic was organised to save it from the threat posed by construction on the site.

 

The pavement in situ
Photo: © CEAlex

 

The restoration work was undertaken in conjunction with that of the celebrated dog mosaic from the Hellenistic period, as the two mosaics were destined to be part of the exhibition La Gloire d'Alexandrie (Petit Palais in Paris and Musée de l'Ephèbe of Agde, 1998). A Franco-Egyptian team (1) thus worked for some six months to save and restore these mosaics. The two operations were overseen by Patrick Blanc of the Mosaic Conservation and Restoration Workshop of the Museum of Arles et de la Provence antiques (MAPA), in collaboration with the CEAlex and the restoration lab of the Graeco-Roman Museum of Alexandria.

Aside from the obvious and rich exchange between restorers from different backgrounds and countries, this undertaking also represents a fine example of collaboration and training that has greatly contributed to the development of restoration projects handled by our Egyptian colleagues and to other collaborative projects to protect Alexandrian mosaics.

(1) The Restorers : the Egyptian team - Magdy Mohamed Ashry, Essam Mohamed Abdelrahman, Mohamed Badr Othman; the French team - Patrick Blanc, Marie-Laure Courboules, Gilles Ghiringhelli, Hafed Rafaï.

Mosaic of the Medusa
Central panel after restoration
Photo © CEAlex
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