The church of Yemrehanne Krestos facing south. © SCECH
CONSERVATION, including apprenticeship training, is the main objective of the activities supported by SCECH. By the potential know-how in our society and persons associated to this one it is our hope, in close collaboration with the Ethiopian Tewahedo Ortodox Church, institutions and colleagues in the country and internationally to be able to contribute to the necessary measures that needs to be taken in order to stop the accelerating decay of that part of the Cultural Legacy of Ethiopia which concerns the ancient Christian art and architecture. Read more: Letter of Recommendation by Professor Richard Pankhurst
Our first conservation will be a Pilot project, dedicated the church of Yemrehanne Krestos, situated in the region of Amhara, some 40 km north of the renowned town Lalibela. This is one of the most precious medieval churches in Ethiopia, placed in a huge cave and is said to have been built by king Yemrehanne Krestos. It is preliminary dated to the first half of the 12th century and reminds in its attractive architecture, also as regards its technical details, about buildings in the old Aksumite Kingdom (150 B.C. – ca 700 A.D). With its three naves and the aps, richly adorned with colourful ornamental painting covering ceilings and arches and with its unique murals in the northern aisle, this church as well as the adjacent palace, where the king is suppose to has resided, constitute a priceless cultural heritage, however in increasing decay and great need of repairs and conservation as well as a careful cleaning in all its parts.
Axonometric drawing of the church and the royal palace by Tadesse Girmay. © SCECH
On request from the clergy and the locals of the village and by due permissions from Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) as well as from the civil and ecclesiastical counsils at location, the SCECH’s conservation team has been invited to accomplish this conservation. Recently, between October 13-17 2012, we started this project by a close examination of the church and its paintings as well as of the palace. Besides our team of three restorers, engineer, architect and photographer also locals and monks participated and among them the Head of the clergy, Abba Wolde Cherqos, in one’s own person. By this link you may take part of the contents of the examination moment by moment in a richly illustrated presentation: The preliminary examination October 13-17 2012
Mr. Tadesse Girmay, will be one of our first trainees. Tadesse is a young architect with his activities based in Addis Ababa (see his drawing above). He derives from Amhara and has a deep interest in the issue of cultural heritage and conservation in his country. As a sign of this dedication he presented a MA thesis in 2009 on one of the famous medieval monasteries in Ethiopia: A study on the Conservation of the Monastery of Gunda Gundo (Eastern Tigrai).
The Pilot project will be divided into several phases. The painting restorers Ms. Carmen Deas and Mr. Lars Gerdmar will share the responsibility for the conservation as well as for the basic education in painting conservation, assisted by other experts belonging to SCECH and from Ethiopian institutions and backed up by The Department for Monumental Art at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Conservation in Copenhagen. Read more: Mr. Lars Gerdmar and Ms. Carmen Deas