the wall paintings in Siq al-Barid

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The project in Siq al-Barid ran over 5 phases between 2006 and 2010, centering on the conservation of an extremely rare, highly accomplished Nabataean wall painting in the Hellenistic style, dating to the first century AD. Despite its international significance the painting had attracted little previous attention due to its severely damaged condition and disfigurement. Conservation first focused on estabilising the painting’s condition, then on its presentation, interpretation and protection. The project offered limited short-term employment for local Amarin, but its lasting benefit was to raising public awareness of the painting, thereby increasing the potential of Siq al-Barid as a tourist destination. Prior to the project, the painting had suffered from locally-instigated intentional defacement and theft attempts. Awareness-raising of the painting as a community asset was an important additional gain, achieved through discussion between conservators and local Amarin during the conservation process. Petra’s close-knit and traditional communities identify strongly with their ancestral territories but feel a degree of alienation from the pre-Islamic cultural heritage constituting the area’s main tourism attraction, thus the project benefitted communities through tourism encouragement and respect for and protection of cultural heritage.

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