MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s Heritage Commission is launching a project to clean the country’s historic sites after the problem was documented and archived by specialized teams.
Bader Al-Shammari, the official responsible for the restoration of archaeological sites at the Heritage Commission, told Arab News that the task involved working at various locations on sites and artifacts, pottery, minerals, and coins, and also removing graffiti and writings.
He said: “The commission is in the process of launching a project to remove writings and graffiti in all regions … after locating the damaged sites.”
He praised the efforts of the Heritage Commission in preserving cultural and heritage sites by using the best scientific methods, noting that the restoration work complemented excavation activity.
He added: “After excavating, discovering, exploring sites and extracting artifacts, we must preserve them from damage and extinction, using safe materials, to keep them for future generations.
“We do not aim to renew and enhance the artifact, but the main goal is to preserve it in its originality, prolong its life as much as possible and preserve its archaeological character.”
He said that the artifacts are to be taken to laboratories, where each is dealt with separately.
He added: “A treatment plan is developed for each artifact, where the necessary materials are used to treat it.
“Each artifact has a special chemical for it, and we use devices specializing in restoration, such as electrolysis devices, to remove layers of rust on the body of metallic objects.”
The restoration of pottery pieces involves removing dust and residues, while broken pieces can be repaired.
Removing graffiti is done in several stages, including documentation and then preparing the chemicals to be used in the process.
Al-Shammari said: “The writings on the archaeological rocks and on the engravings and inscriptions are dealt with accurately, using some chemicals such as ammonia.
“The team (has) also experimented using laser techniques to remove graffiti from engravings, sites and monuments, as well as ultraviolet rays to remove the colors on the archaeological engravings in different areas.”
He added that the commission’s use of advanced laser devices will help preserve the inscriptions and engravings without damaging them.