21.11.2013 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Borobudur Conservation Research Mission Supported by the Federal Republic of Germany, 25 October – 19 November 2013

Within the framework of the ‘2nd Stage Restoration/Conservation Work at the Borobudur Temple Compounds’ project, UNESCO – in close collaboration with the Borobudur Conservation Office of the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture – invited five international experts to the Borobudur Temple to undertake research and give in-situ training support to ensure the temple’s long term preservation. The research mission was undertaken from the 25 October to 19 November 2013, and was made possible thanks to generous support from the Federal Republic of Germany.

In order to continue a holistic analysis of the temple’s condition and some small conservation work, UNESCO facilitated the visit of an expert team to Borobudur consisting of Prof. Dr. Hans Leisen, Dr. Esther von Plehwe-Leisen (stone conservation experts from Germany), Dr. Eberhard Wendler (a chemical engineer from Germany), Dr. Ichita Shimoda (a structural engineer from Japan) and Dr. Yoshinori Iwasaki (a geotechnique expert from Japan).

Throughout the research period, the experts worked together with staff from the Borobudur Conservation Office (BCO). Some twenty staff had the opportunity to learn more about stone conservation techniques from these experts and also shared their knowledge about the temple’s conservation history. The experts carried out a series of on-site experiments of the temple to ascertain future preservation activities. These experiments included preliminary investigation of the Buddha heads in the BCO’s storage room (detailed photo documentation including macro-photos, detailed description of the individual heads: stone material, weathering and damage, coatings, crusts etc., video-microscopy, ultrasound testing, and determination of magnetic susceptibility) as well as moisture monitoring of reliefs stone at the Borobudur Temple using a hydrometer and a moist censor instrument. The experts were also given the chance to conduct the testing of mortar application at the temple, treatment of biocide in the testing area, and completing diffusion box measurements.

The structural engineering experts also worked closely with the BCO staff to complete extensive monitoring and assessment of the temple through testing of the underground water levels, collection and analysis of GPS data, along with analysis of the inclinometer and water flow gauges which were installed in August 2013. The experts also conducted a radioactive isotope survey to monitor water content and density of the soil in the platform as well as setting up new monitoring points of Total Station on north, west and south side of the temple.
In addition to these activities, on 11 – 13 November 2013, the experts presented their research results to the authorities and experts during a workshop entitled ‘the 6th International Experts Meeting on Borobudur’ which was organized by the Ministry of Education and Culture. In this presentation the experts shared their experiences and best practices in their fields and also partook in a questions and answers session, responding to the participants’ queries about the preservation of the Borobudur Temple.

Since 2011, the Federal Republic of Germany has provided generous financial contributions through UNESCO, to support the Indonesian government in their conservation efforts at the World Heritage listed Borobudur Temple Compounds. In 2011 the Federal Republic of Germany generously provided 40,000 Euros for “Preliminary Diagnostic Research for the Restoration of the Borobudur Temple Compounds and Intensive In-Situ Restoration Training”, following the devastating eruption of Mount Merapi in 2010 that caused significant loss of life in Central Java and Yogyakarta and covered the temple in potentially corrosive ash. In March 2012, the Federal Republic of Germany provided funding in the order of 106,000 Euros for continued activities under the project entitled ‘First Stage Restoration/Conservation Work at the Borobudur Temple Compounds’.  The 2013 funding of 134,072 Euros has been used to continue stone and structural conservation and research activities at the Borobudur Temple, with the overall project goal of supporting the Government of Indonesia in ensuring the long-term conservation of the Borobudur Temple Compounds World Heritage property for generations to come.

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