Clay Used in Archaeological Conservation (Volubilis, Morocco)

I’ve always been an admirer of ancient mosaics found throughout much of the ancient Roman and Byzantine world. Although mainly constructed out of small pieces of stone, at times ceramic pieces and glass pieces were included in the mosaic construction.

Volubilis ruins, Morocco. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Photo: Subhros.. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0).

I stumbled onto a video showing the conservation of mosaics at the Roman site of Volubilis in current-day Morocco. Volubilis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for the fine preservation of architectural elements and mosaic floors in a picturesque setting. I visited the site about 40 years ago, pre-restoration of the mosaics. Even then it was stunning.

What interested me in this video was the return to an ancient material (lime mortar) used by the Roman-era creators as a better foundation for mosaics than more concrete, which earlier restorers used at the site.

You’ll also see how conservators employ clay in the restoration process of these magnificent mosaics.

More information about this conservation project can be found in an article by Yousra Rebbani on the Getty Museum website.

I’m attaching some photos of mosaics from the site which I found on a blog article from Mosaic Blues.

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