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My Son restoration project completed

Update: December, 18/2013 - 08:00
Conservation challenge: Group G monument is finally opening to the public after 10 years of restoration. — VNS Photo Cong Thanh

QUANG NAM (VNS)— Management, storage of artefacts, and technical and personal skills training have been challenges for Quang Nam Province, along with the managing board of My Son Sanctuary, in conservation and protection of heritage sites.

Director of the University of Polytechnic of Milan's Lerici Foundation, Mauro Cucarzi, spoke at the Safeguard My Son World Heritage site 2003-13 project completion on Monday.

The project, which helped restore G towers, including G1, G2, G3 and G5, at a total cost of over US$1.6 million and funded by the Italian Government, paves the way for a study of brick production skills of Cham people in the past centuries and as an example of conservation and protection of Cham towers throughout the country.

"It needs to update the classification periodically and every new entry of material must registered in the inventory, according to the same methodology," Cucarzi said.

"A training school for staffs of the heritage conservation project should be built, according to the needs of the province and central region. Also, maintaining and cleaning the storage room must be cared for to avoid the loss of fragments, as well as to assure limited photography activities in the museum of the My Son Sanctuary," he said.

The opening the G Group monuments to the public in June, after 10 years of restoration, was a great effort by government authorities, policymakers, international donors, civil society and the media.

"Over 10 years of work, the Viet Nam-Italy-UNESCO tripartite partnership has yielded significant results: the restoration of Group G monuments, a standard documentation of archaeological research, and archaeological excavations of artefacts," said UNESCO's representative and head of the Ha Noi Office, Katherine Muller Marin.

"The project also helps build My Son risk maps and geographic information system (GIS) monuments, research in material characteristic and building techniques of the ancient Cham builders," she said at the completion meeting.

She added that it also promotes sustainable tourism development, museum space, capacity building and documentation of lessons learned for production of guidelines for archaeological studies and conservation of Cham monuments.

Architect Le Thanh Vinh, director of the Institute for Conservation of Monuments under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said it is the first time a restoration of a group of monuments in Viet Nam has been undertaken so methodically.

"Vietnamese and foreign archaeologists had a long study and research on material and solutions in conservation of G Group monuments. We had to produce bricks in the same way that ancient Cham people did in past centuries, before testing at a laboratory in Italy," Vinh said.

"It's a complicated and meticulous process when we studied about adhesives between bricks layers. We tried to do everything in order to restore a monument to it original shape and construction material," he said, adding that restoration techniques have been refined and local workers have been trained to participate in restoration.

He noted that the appearance of moss, corrosion and salt on the surface of bricks of the restored monument also paves new research for the future.

Duong Thi Bich Hanh, culture programme co-ordinator from UNESCO, suggested that the My Son Sanctuary managing board should limit the approach of buses, cars and minivans to the world heritage site, as well as encouraging the use of battery-powered cars.

Meanwhile, vice chairman of Quang Nam provincial people's committee Huynh Khanh Toan said the restoration of Group G would be an example for the conservation of Cham monuments.

The restoration of Group G also highlights concrete results of the collaboration between Quang Nam and UNESCO over the past decade, providing evidence of how heritage tourism and creative industries can contribute to sustainable development.

Quang Nam, home to two World Heritage sites and one Biosphere Reserve, has been a focus of UNESCO support during the past decade.

Sacred area

Group G, which was built during the first half of the 12th century, was selected from the various monuments due to its unique characteristics. The group is located on an elevated area unaffected by seasonal flooding and has never been restored, except for some minor archaeological research in the early 1990s. Group G, which had likely been originally constructed in one phase, presents an excellent model of how a Cham sacred area is, with typical sacred Cham decorations. - VNS

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