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Conservative restoration and maintenance project of the Shulgi and Amarsuen mausoleums at the archaeological site of Ur, Iraq

Location:Ur, Iraq
Client:Republic Of Iraq, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities
Republic of Italy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italian Embassy in Baghdad
Iraqi-Italian Archaeological Mission at Abu Tbeirah
Collaborator:Arch. Erika Buoncristiani
Arch. Cristina Cupero
Draftsman Lorenzo Annigoni
Description:This restoration project falls within a broader program of conservation and maintenance of the archaeological site of Ur, Iraq.

The Shulgi and Amarsuen mausoleums, dating back to the third dynasty of Ur, are a complex of three courtyard buildings beneath which huge underground vaults are hidden. In particular, the central part, the Shulgi mausoleum, has a monumental symmetrical staircase covered by two pseudo-vaults that leads to another two vaulted chambers.

The advanced state of deterioration of the mausoleums seems to be mainly caused by erosion and debris deposit and by water rising from the foundations and the resulting deposit of salts. These deposits erode the walls to the extent of compromising the structural integrity of the mausoleums.

The project focused mainly on the Shulgi mausoleum, which is intended to be the model for future interventions on the Amarsuen mausoleums, whose underground chambers are not currently accessible. Aiming at a reversible intervention, the idea was to create a steel structure simply resting on the existing floor. Steel portals will be used to shore up the pseudo-vaults, while a canopy made of steel and polycarbonate will protect the access to the underground chambers while still allowing light to enter. A system of staircases and landings will make up the route for visiting the mausoleum.

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