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Ludy Europy Wschodniej
 
Komsomolsky Podsio這k 2008
The effects of maintenance of selected specimens of stone anthropomorphic sculpture.


During the maintenance works of July 2008.
During the maintenance   
works of July 2008.   

On 03/07/2008, a team of archaeologists and restaurateurs from Poland and Czech Republic arrived to a site defined as scientific base in Komsomolsky Podsio這k, Volnovakhskyi District. On the same day, short search queries at the archaeological site and the place of Polovtsian anthropomorphic stelae exhibition in the Vieliklanadolskyi Forest Museum were proceeded. The collection of the Museum contained 24 specimens of sculpture, of which 20 were fixed to the wall by base and surrounded with stones and 4 other – most damaged – were dug into the lawn in front of the Museum. It was a sad thing to see but the sculptures did impress the restaurateurs and the archaeologists greatly. After a short debate, it was settled that instead of previously planned 3 sculptures, the maintenance students under supervision of a certified sculpture restaurateur would perform technical maintenance of as many pieces of sculpture as possible within the defined length of their stay (3 weeks), using all chemical substances that were at the team's disposal.

During the maintenance works of July 2008.
During the maintenance   
works of July 2008.   
The following days passed as the works were being proceeded and numerous technical problems solved. In Ukrainian conditions it was impossible to buy lignen and acetone – a substance prohibited in that country. The acetone was nonetheless acquired thanks to one friend that also provided a device that allowed washing the sculptures under pressure. The first action proceeded by the restaurateurs and a part of the archaeologists was to clean piles of rubbish and rotten leaves around the statues and digging drainage ditches that allowed to drive the rainwater away from the base of the wall. It was an unprecedented undertaking and it became the main subject of news and material for newspaper first pages. 3 broken stone sculptures were found in a pile of rubbish and sent to Donetsk Museum. It is probable that they had been there for 30 years. Regardless of some small difficulties (like finding a 150 metres electric wire or a rubber hose) the cleaning of stelae was initiated. After removing a thick layer of patina, dirt, moss and lichens, the restaurateurs began removing old putty and also concrete fillings that were visible only after the cleaning.The statues were cleaned by means of detergents and diverse brushes and then they were washed a couple of times using high pressure water device.
During the maintenance works of July 2008.
During the maintenance works of July 2008.   
The aim of that step wash and remove salts from the sculptures as it was impossible to proceed the latter by means of the method of free salt migration to extended environment. This stage of works allowed the author to check the data contained in S.A. Pletnieva's thesis. It allowed to define types of the raw materials used to produce the sculptures. It was proved that 2 stelae were made of granite, 1 of limestone and the rest of thin and thick grain sandstones of different colours. The restaurateur supervising the works decided that the base of the concrete is to be removed from the lower parts of the statues, which allowed to discover images of feet with boots on and some ornamental details that had been concealed. This operation proved that 10 stelae require new analyses. The publication from 1974 did not classify them as there was no access to important details hidden by the wall that was meant to “exhibit the sculptures and secure them from thieves” and it did not mention important details of dress.
During the maintenance works of July 2008.
During the maintenance works of July 2008.   
The monuments were covered and injected with a biocide substance and folded in foil with purpose of removing micro-organisms from the deep layers of the stone structure. The fractures of desalted objects were secured by means of special glue injections. Next, supplements of mechanical and natural losses due to the weather (mostly water) were prepared, by means of appropriate puddles and pigments. The most significant challenge was to repair the head of one of the masculine stelae. The last step was to cover the sculptures with a substance strengthening structure of stone and securing it from weather damage.

A team of archaeologists and conservationists from Poland, Czech Republic and Ukraine, July 2008.
A team of archaeologists    
and conservationists from    
Poland, Czech Republic    
and Ukraine, July 2008.   

Maintenance works proceeded on anthropomorphic stelae in research season 2008 by the team from Krak闚 belong to the first undertakings of this kind in Ukraine. The purpose of this programme is to save stone statues from destruction. During the stay it was realised that educating local people and visitors that are coming in numbers after a series of TV broadcasts and press publications is of grave importance. The historical awareness is unfortunately little though people knowing the national worth of these and other monuments and regretting that their fate is of little interest to their authorities and compatriots were also met. Whether this unprecedented undertaking will be continued depends not only on its initiator who is ready to prepare an expedition of experts in archaeology, maintenance and auxiliary sciences at any time.

Sculptures that underwent maintenance works in 2008, state in Springs 2009.
Sculptures that underwent maintenance   
works in 2008, state in Springs 2009.   
The passion of an individual and helpfulness of friends is not enough. The continuation depends mostly on local, regional and government authorities of Ukraine that at present seem to be completely not disinterested in saving monuments of this class. It depends on the amounts of financial means that are scarce in comparison to demands and misconveiced ideas of people managing Ukrainian museums (as in Dniepropietrovsk – there the largest collection of anthropomorphic stelae is stored – where great sums of money are required for a glass dome without even considering securing or mechanically cleaning the statues) zabezpieczeniu pos庵闚 czy chocia瘺y ich mechanicznym odczyszczeniu). It also depends on the willingness of co-operation between Polish, Ukrainian and Russian researchers that want to change the present situation, are ready to organise new expeditions and learn methods of maintaining stone monuments. The intention of the author is to show that little though significant support of the Donetsk Regional Museum, modest financial support from Polish scientific institutions and foundations, as well a group of dedicated researchers and friends, impressive progress can be made in the undertaking to save the treasures of the Black Sea steppes in just one research season.
Sculptures pending maintenance works scheduled for 2011.
Sculptures pending maintenance    
works scheduled for 2011.   

Sadly, it needs to be mentioned that the Polish foundations that officially propagate co-operation with Ukraine (also in cultural and scientific terms) refused to contribute to our undertaking using rules or lack of means as excuses. Such actions are incomprehensible to the author, although where not to turn for support can only be learned by experience.

None of the participants of the expedition received any salary for his or her work, everyone had to pay for the transport. Symbolical amounts were only given to students of the Institute of Archaeology UJ by the university fund to cover their expenditure on transport. Finally, it needs to be mentioned that if true costs of work and substances purchase were to be estimated, even without costs of transport, stay itself and food, that the Museum would need to have paid to certified restaurateurs, the amount would exceed €14,000.

The effects of maintenance of selecet pieces of stone anthropomorphic sculpture are presented in the Gallery.