New Integrated Knowledge based approachs to the protection of cultural heritage from Earthquake-induced Risk

The Fortress
Stabilization and the preparation of a path
OrdererGovernment Tourism Corporation
DurationJune – November 2007
Implemented by: Vadim Zaytlin
Avner Hillman
Arch. Amir Freundlich
Arch. Vardit Shotten-Hallel
Eng. Yaacov Schefer
Yoram Saad - Head of conservation project branch

Safad fortress is located at the top of Mount Safad (834 meters above sea level). The site has been used as a municipal park in recent decades and the Israel Antiquities Authority has conducted excavations there since the 1980’s. From the autumn of 2001 until the winter of 2003 archeological excavations, reconstruction and conservation work of the architectural remains from the Middle Ages and the Ottoman period were carried out in the southern area of the fortress. The excavations, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Government Tourism Corporation, were directed by H. Barbé  and E. Damati and the conservation of the architectural artifacts was done on behalf of the Conservation Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority by the late Yossi Broida and Vadim Tzeitlin.
Remains that date to the Crusader, Mamluk and Ottoman periods (see Barda and Damati 2005) were discovered at the site. Those that are ascribed to the Crusader period include walls with arrow loops, staircases, a gate tower, a hall that has a Gothic vault and a water cistern which is treated with hydraulic plaster. The finds that are ascribed to the Mamluk period include a massive gate tower that is accessed by an impressive ramp (length 24 meters, width 8 meters), toilets, the remains of vaults and arches, as well as various other installations.
The fortress was rebuilt in the Ottoman period by Dahar al-Omar on top of the remains of the previous periods; however, this fortress was destroyed by the earthquake that struck in 1837. Since then the fortress has remained ruinous and the residents of Safad use it as a source for masonry stones.

A visitor’s track was installed next to the ancient remains within the framework of the project. Due to budgetary limitations conservation measures were only implemented to those finds that are situated adjacent to the visitor’s path.

The conservation measures that were conducted along the track and its preparation:
• Stabilizing a hewn passage in the Mamluk water cistern.
• Stabilizing and sealing the tops of walls located the length of the visitor’s track.
• Completing the stonework and replacing missing stones with those from the stone finds at the site.
• Applying bonding material to the walls.
• Constructing a wooden walkway in the Mamluk water cistern.
• Preparing levels and installing a tamped bedding.
• Preparing walkways and steps made of railroad ties.
• Constructing metal safety railings.
• Constructing a stone curtain wall to conceal the earlier retaining supports of the archaeological baulks and walls that were made out of barrels.

Today one can visit the site, located in the Fortress Park, along a proper path that passes alongside the ancient remains.
For further information:
Barbé, H and Damati E 2005. Safad. Hadashot Arkheologiyot – Excavations and Surveys in Israel 117 (10.7.2005). (submitted 24.7.2008)

To view the figures, click on the figure caption
Area of the Mamluk gate before the work.

Area of the Mamluk gate following the completion of the conservation work.

The inside of the water cistern, prior to intervention.

The inside of the water cistern, after the intervention.

Proposed route

Proposed route and the ruins for stabilization

Additional Projects
 The Ari Sephardic Synagogue - Renovation of the building’s main facade

site built by tetitu