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Work experience in maintenance and supervision

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Conservation is the key to saving archaeological sites for future generations. Copan, one of the most famous Maya site, is no exception. Institute Honduras of Anthropology and History (IHAH), the institution that has managed Copan site, maintain the monuments in order to protect and conserve the site. If they have not taken care, the site could not have kept the condition. On September 5, we had the opportunity to participate work experience in maintenance and supervision activity. Through the experience we could learn how these activities are difficult and important for archaeological sites.

We were divided into two groups based on each person's interests and background. Four of us (Diep, Dongdong, Rie and myself) who major in archaeology received an explanation about conservation activities in Copan ruins by expert IHAH staff. He showed us how they conserve structures and monuments and how important those activities are.

Restoring structures is main part of his work. They decide where they restore depending on the situation from high risk and emergency. For example, the place where a stone has a crack and looks to be collapse at any moment has a higher priority. When restore the monuments, they use natural and traditional material as much as possible and enable to distinguish conservation from original such as use an attaching the color stucco.

Cleaning graffiti were made on statues is also his work. He said, we protect the site against human rather than nature. Although nature is great enemy of conservation as well. The jungles surrounding Copan try to cover the structure. Plants grow on structures. If they try to pull out plans that strike deep roots by force, the structure will collapse. Thus it is one of most important his daily work that remove seeds and plants on structures to avoid growing the plants.

     The hieroglyphic Staircase is a symbolic structure of Copan and covered by fabric to prevent erosion by rain. This fabric has a smell that repels buts and insects. Insects build a nest and buts excreta erode the monuments. Covering monuments is also effective to prevent propagating microbes. Some stela placed in the great plaza hasn’t been set a roof yet. A roof is effective to kill molds and bacteria, therefore it is preferable that set a roof on all stelas, but it hasn’t been realized yet because of short of funds.

Conservation is one of the most important activities in Copan site. Because to utilize the site as a sustainable cultural resource, it is necessary to at least maintain the present condition. It was good opportunity to experience actual conservation practice in an archaeological site. In the future if we face similar situation that have to conserve and manage an archaeological site as a cultural resources manager, this experience and awareness will be helpful to us. Having plenty of choice is necessity to manage such cultural resources, therefore we should learn case studies more in this program. 

 

 

Makiha Gokita

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