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February 3rd , 2013 → 2:51 pm @ // No Comments

One of projects of the San Gemini Preservation Studies Program is a collaboration with the archaeologists excavating the Roman Baths in Carsuale. Our main role will be the consolidation of the building structures that are being excavated. The first major challenge we have faced is that the structures emerging from the ground are very fragile: the old mortar, after being buried for thousands of years, has lost much of its strength and, when exposed to the surface weather, the old masonry walls and floor mosaics quickly deteriorate.

It has become evident that the excavation area needs to be well protected, in particular from the rain, at least during the excavation if not permanently. After taking into consideration various factors we came up with the solution of a large industrial galvanized steel roof covering the central building containing the tepidarium and various ancillary spaces.

After exploring various options we chose to build an industrial type structure: a light steel roof supported by long-span steel trusses. The whole structure is made of galvanized steel and has a light gray coloration. The advantages of this structure are the following:

  • The roof provides very effective protection of the whole central bath structure from the rain and snow.
  • This structure had the lowest per square meter cost of all the structures we considered. These types of structures are sold by the kilo.
  • This type of structure is very efficient and allows long spans that can span clear across the main excavation site with no intermediate supports allowing the archaeologists to work without any obstruction for several years.
  • The reduction in sunlight and water reduces the growth of vegetation in the offseason.
  • The roof provides shelter for the archaeologists from rain and sun during the excavation season.
  • The structure allows a clear view of the excavation site, allowing easy use of optical instruments for alignment dimensioning and imaging.
  • It allows visitors to view the whole excavation site.
  • The structure, though relatively large, has a profile that follows the hill side without impacting the landscape of the archaeological park in a substantial way.
  • Reversibility: the structure is a permanent one that can last many years, however, it is easily disassembled and can be completely removed, including the foundations.

 

Now that the site is properly sheltered, excavation and consolidation can proceed at an appropriate pace without having to rush any of the steps. Once both these operations are completed, the Sovrintendeza Archeological will have to decide what will be the final arrangements and presentation of the site; whether to leave the site covered with the present roof, replace it with another more architectural solution, or remove the roof entirely and return to an open sky situation.

 

In general, the issue of sheltering archaeological structures from the weather is an important  one. As we can learn from what has happened in recent times in Pompei, leaving ancient structures exposed to the weather, without proper protection and maintenance, over time will simply lead to their collapse. Often inorganic archaeological material will last longer underground. Ironically, sometimes the best way to preserve a site is to bury it again once the excavation is finished and protect it from the weather. The decision to leave a site exposed should be considered very carefully. Some type of structures can withstand the elements reasonably well while others will deteriorate quickly. Various factors weigh on this decision:  the nature of the structure, costs of protecting, but also a certain cultural expectation of what is the proper appearance of archaeological sites. Protective structures can alter the appearance of a site drastically and can render a site much less legible to the visitor. All such factors must be carefully considered when deciding the final arrangement of a site after excavation is terminated.

The planning, design and fundraising for the roof commenced in 2011. The construction was done in the spring of 2012 by the steel fabricator Umbria Grigliati. The work was a joint effort by various groups:

Valorizazione  del Patrimonio Storico di San Gemini (Onlus)

San Gemini Preservation Studies

Valdosta State University – Carsulae  Archaeological  Team

Comune di San Gemini

 

The design was done By:

Marco Corradi and The Studio Corradi Civil Engineers

Max Cardillo, Architect

Stefano Mosca, Civil Engineer

 

Sponsors of the Project:

CARIT Foundation of Terni

Leda & Massimo Violati

Luigi and Isabella Corradi

 

Special mention goes to Mr. Piero Zannori and Stefano Di Gianpietro of the VPSSG for their special effort for making the whole project happen.


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San Gemini Preservation Studies
International Institute for Restoration and Preservation Studies
www.sangeministudies.org

203 Seventh Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215, USA
tel. 718 768 3508