Architectural Conservation and Preservation in the Past

Researchers of historical architecture have proven that architects of the past have used a variety of methods to preserve and repair buildings after damage by earthquakes, fires, usage or activities in the structures. Sometimes but not always, they used the original materials and styles. In other cases, they chose to relocate the buildings and use different materials.

For example, the Erechtheum of Athens went through a major renovation after a fire in the first century BC. During the restoration, many of the parts were dismantled and then built from the same materials and in exactly the same form as before, including the columns. The architect responsible for Acropolis has concluded that the goal was not to just make the structure functional again, it was to restore it as a building with a high architectural worth.

The idea of building memorials and structures that would last for a long time was also well-known in the ancient world. The Egyptian pyramids are probably the most famous example. They were built to preserve the memory about the pharaohs who ruled the country. The ancient tombs in Persia were created to transmit the memory of Achaemenid kings. In many instances, such structures had a lot of precious metals and expensive things inside which led to their destruction in subsequent times. The Egyptian pyramids have become a target for robbers very quickly after their construction.

The Greek word used to describe monuments and memorials was invoking the subject of memory. The corresponding work in Latin was different. It referred to political and moral subjects and was intended as a reminder about the power of the rulers. When Procopius was writing about restorations during the times of Emperor Justinian, he made it clear that the goal was to improve functional and aesthetic qualities of architectural pieces but remember their original significance.

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