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Archaeological research in the Iron Age fortified site of Salut

The restoration of the unearthed structures on the site of Salut has been, since the very beginning of excavations, a task of primary importance for the IMTO.
The ancient stone walls were in fact in many cases lying in a very bad state of preservation, further worsen by the fact that they were originally realized without any proper binder, probably using only simple clay. This made their exposure dangerous not only for their own stability, but also from a more general health and safety point of view.
Less dramatic in terms of dangerousness to the public was the state of mud bricks walls, which nevertheless, by their nature, would be more subject to water and wind erosion.
The worst situation was that of the massive enclosure which surrounds the higher part of the site, along with the walls of the main tower which projects onto the plain: the pressure of their filling, made up of small stones, pebbles and clay between the two external faces, was so heavy that their careful structuring – which involved the realization of containing compartments – was not sufficient to prevent extensive collapse.
That’s why the restoration of the stone walls started from these walls. Works inside the main tower allowed the reconstruction also of its entrance doorway, luckily found with a portion of its lintel still in situ. The entrance to the upper part of the site was restored, as well as the enclosure’s portion close to it and another long trait of it, on the south-western side of the site.
Restoration has been conducted in keeping with UNESCO guidelines, in particular concerning the use of the same materials used in antiquity, and the discernibility of rebuilt parts from the original ones.
That’s why, for example, only unbound stones were used for the filling of the walls. Clay was avoided because it could cause new collapse, when mobilized by rain water. The new and the ancient parts of the restored walls were separated by a layer of geotextile, evident to a careful observation. Obviously, walls were never rebuilt higher than the documented level of their preserved portion. Mud bricks walls belonging to the most ancient structures of the site were also restored. In this case, the use of traditional, still living techniques, was deemed to be the most appropriate way to proceed. The walls were then plastered with a mud and straw plaster, prepared by a local craftsman using clay taken from nearby the site. Eventual lacunas present in the walls were repaired with small stones and pebbles, bound with the same plaster, prior to their revetment. The same technique was used to rebuild a series of radial walls making up the main frame of the outer wall, in correspondence with its restored segment.
The project for an archaeological park centred on the site, but including nearby monuments, has widened also the ground for restoration.
In the autumn of 2011, a few tombs on the Jebel facing Salut to the East, were chosen for excavation and, when possible, restoration. For the time being, two Bronze Age tombs have been rebuilt, always following the same guidelines.