Until now in Egypt, only the excavation of archeological sites had been focused on. Development of new technologies for conserving and restoring archeological sites has been in demand in recent years, but in spite of this, Suita noticed that there were not enough specialists in the field. Staying at Cairo University’s Faculty of Archaeology as a visiting researcher through Kansai University’s overseas research program, he engaged in discussions concerning the possibility of establishing a cultural property preservation project between Japan and Egypt. This culminated in the launching of a collaborative research project in 2003 called “The Egyptian-Japanese Mission for the Mastaba Idout.” Based on years of research by Kansai University researchers related to deciphering Egyptian texts to understand history and culture, Suita immersed himself into the area of restoration to create a new field of research.
“Memphis and its Necropolis - the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur, in Saqqara region, Egypt” was inscribed on the World Heritage List (cultural heritage) in 1979. A beautiful wall painting still remained in the underground burial chamber at the tomb of Princess Idout, one of the most famous historical sites in Saqqara. On the painting were depictions of meat, chicken and beer as offerings with ritual spells wishing for the deceased to rest in peace. The colors were still vivid even though the pictures were painted around 2360 B.C. The mother rock was not in good condition, however, and some colors had partially fallen from the wall. Taking immediate action to restore the wall painting was necessary. To this end, after Kansai University’s research into restoring the cultural property was selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Strategic Project to Support the Formation of Research Bases at Private Universities in 2008, the Institute for Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties (ICP) was established at Kansai University. Then, the Center for the Global Study of Cultural Heritage and Culture (CHC) succeeded in developing technology for restoring wall paintings through joint research between Japan, Egypt, and Poland.
Japan has contributed to the development of restoration techniques, in fact, through applying traditional craft skills. When drawings are detached from walls, the standard European method uses many organic solvents which are hazardous to people, especially in confined spaces. The Japanese technique of applying funori (glue made from seaweed) and washi (traditional paper), both natural materials that do not adversely affect cultural property, was found to be effective during the facing process. Cutting-edge restoration procedures were developed by utilizing Japanese traditional craft techniques along with extensive Egyptian knowledge about cultural properties, and Polish detachment methods.
For authentic conservation and restoration of cultural heritage, based on an extensive study of diverse cultures it is essential to incorporate academic approaches including the humanities and scientific expertise. There are many specialists in humanities at Kansai University, and we also boast world-class science and engineering faculties, making it possible to utilize various technologies interactively. In addition, through Kansai University’s collaboration with numerous partner universities including Cairo University, we have a deep understanding of other countries and cultures. The General Study of Cultural Heritage only found at Kansai University is based on a consolidation of understanding into different cultures and incorporation of necessary technologies, and it contributes to the conservation and restoration of historically important cultural heritage. Kansai University will continue to develop new and exclusive research into the future.