Die Gipfel

Restoration of a Mosaic

There is already much written about the ancient site of the Zeus Shrine in Dion. There are also numerous articles on the Internet. That is why I would like to devote myself here to a less known detail - the mosaics of Dion. And here, in particular, the restoration of the great Dionysos.

In the summer of 1987 archaeologists found the most important mosaic of the extensive excavation site under a layer of soil (the excavations still last). Protected by the cover layer it is almost completely preserved. It shows the epiphany of the triumphant Dionysus. In a chariot drawn by panthers, accompanied by two centaurs, he emerges from the sea, supported by his companion, Silenius, with a cup of wine in his hand.

Of course this precious find had to be protected. As it was to be open to the public, it was decided to take a look at the site called "Villa des Dionysos". Over 20 years ago the mosaic was protected from people and sun under a roof construction. In order to be able to see the work from all sides, a footbridge was built, on which one could orbit it. The roof helped against the rays of the sun, against the water and the general decay, however, it was powerless. From year to year the condition became worse. Individual mosaic stones (Tessera) dissolved from the ground, plants grew in the cracks. It was only a matter of time before this jewelry, which had remained largely intact for over two thousand years, would be destroyed.

It was therefore decided to create a separate building specifically for this work of art. It is located just behind the museum, west of it, and was baptized in the name of Archaeothiki. All artifacts found here should also be displayed. After completion of the building, only the mosaic from the "Villa Dionysos" had to be removed, transported and rebuilt. It was obvious that it should be renovated in the course of its laying. In the fall of 2015, conservators, archaeologists and workers began to work with this large-scale project. In order to be able to divide the image into several parts, the position and shape of the individual mosaic stones were first recorded on the intended dividing lines. They were then removed. A special adhesive and textile webs were applied to fix the individual stones in their place. After that the individual parts of the mosaic had to be separated from the floor. At the edge, with long drills, close to each other, holes were drilled into the ground beneath the fixed object. The mosaic parts were separated from the ground with flat steel blades, which were cut into the holes at certain intervals. Now it was raised carefully to drive a suitable steel plate underneath. The surface covered the helper with a wooden plate. With several belt tensioners, the plates were fixed against each other so that no movement was possible during transport. Via a ramp the parts weighing up to 500 kg reached a trailer and were transported to Archaeothiki.

Meanwhile, in Archaeothiki, a precise image of the entire mosaic was spread on the ground. It was made on a scale of 1: 1 to show the restorers the space for each part. In order to stabilize the mosaic stones, the next step was to remove the old mortar layer under the mosaic and replace it with new mortar. The curators dissolved the special glue with steam and removed the glued web. Beneath this was the undamaged mosaic. The move was successful.

Before the parts were fixed in their future place, some of them were packed again and flown to New York. There they were part of an exhibition of the Onassis Foundation, which incidentally participated generously in the restoration. In the meantime, the total is back in Dion, and the puzzle is carefully composed by professionals. It is still cleaned and glued - the whole thing looks like a construction site. One year, one wants to take the time to restore the original state during the year 2017.
If you would like to experience the restoration work on this property "live", you should hurry.

Restoration of Mosaic of the Epiphany of Dionysus from Onassis Foundation USA on Vimeo.



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