Track 1: DOCUMENTATION AND DIAGNOSTICS – UNDERSTANDING HISTORIC PLACES / Volet 1 : Documentation et diagnostic – Comprendre les lieux historiques

Archaeology of Architecture. A Methodological approach for the knowledge of Historic Buildings

Friday, October 13
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Co-Author - Monika I. Ingeri – Director, Fundacion Erigaie
In the last three decades Archaeology of Architecture has consolidated as a field of knowledge that provides essential information for understanding historical buildings, through diagnosis and documentation, as well as in establishing criteria of conservation and restoration.

Despite its advantages, many restoration projects and professionals, at least in Colombia, do not yet include an archaeological approach for the study of buildings, or they simply do not clearly understand the scope of this kind of proposals, particularly when they are historically well documented.

In many cases, a historical approach relies only on the information and analysis of documentary sources like contracts, old photos or maps, and architectural plans without contrasting this data with the building´s materiality, what was finally built. Archaeological probing of floors and walls may put into evidence different structures, revealing original construction techniques and the configuration of architectural spaces and their changes, allowing a broader frame of interpretation of the houses, their inhabitants and the use of space through time.

Following recent excavations in three heritage buildings in Colombia, the Jesuits Academy or Collegium Maximus of Bogota, the Independence House in Bogota's historical quarter and the Governor's Palace in Cartagena, the presentation emphasizes on the importance of archaeological research as part of any restoration project.

Using stratigraphical methods Archaeology of Architecture has been applied in the above cases. Walls are recognized as archaeological contexts, in which every constructive or finishing event for instance, is considered a stratum. In other cases, it is also possible to identify evidences of demolition or subtraction events that occurred in the past. Every stratum, no matter its condition, can be systematically organized into a chronological sequence, in order to understand how different events (appearance or disappearance of an internal wall, the opening of a new window, or the renovation of a floor) happened.

Through the use of certain archaeometric methods in these buildings, i.e. Scanning Electronic Microscopy in combination with cross and thin sections of bricks, mortars and wall decorations, it has been possible to identify and understand how and when these transformations took place, providing a chronological frame for dating their constructive and finishing elements, complemented with the archaeological analysis of recovered artifacts such as potsherds, coins and other remains, and contrasted with documentary sources.

Learning Objectives:

David Cohen

Researcher/ Associate Professor
Fundación Erigaie/ Universidad de Los Andes

Conservator-restorer with Master's degree in Cultural Heritage Studies. On the last thirteen years, he has been working as a researcher and professor associated to different universities in Colombia and Latin America, as well as a consultant for international conservation projects for Unesco and ICCROM. He currently works as researcher at Fundación Erigaie on different topics such as historical archaeology, archaeometry and archaeological conservation. He also works as a professor for the Art's History undergraduate program at Universidad de los Andes in Bogota.

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