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Conservation of the Mount Bego engravings

Conservation of the Mount Bego engravings

Programme start: 2006

CICRP: Jean-Marc Vallet (director), Philippe Bromblet

Partnership(s): Aix-Marseille University; Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse; Historic Monuments Regional Department of Archaeology and Conservation (CRMH) Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur; Mercantour National Park

The purpose of the programme launched by the PACA Regional Archaeology Department is to establish the degradation kinetics of rock engravings in the Vallée des Merveilles (altitude of sites above 2,200 m) and to establish a predictive model for the evaluation of the risks and speed of total disappearance of the engravings using different benchmark cases. Its goal is to propose methods of conservation and restoration appropriate to the different cases encountered (site, lithotype, type of degradation).


Washed out and eroded engraving, with the development of cyanophytes

(Vallée des Merveilles, photo J.-M. Vallet – CICRP)

The work began with a study on the origin of the red surface colouring on the engraved rocks. An on-site and laboratory investigation involving several lots of engravings has revealed that the engraved stones bore different colours (orange, red, purplish), apparently through different processes. Some of these colours were the result of the transformation of the rock bearing the engravings, while others were due to deposits of mater of varied origins. Currently the work is focusing on relative dating for these colourings and the development of different approaches towards understanding the degradation phenomena and their kinetics, with the aim of determining optimum conservation measures.


  • Poster from the 14th International Clay Conference (Castellaneta Marina, Italy, 2009)
  • Poster from the 12th International Congress on the Deterioration and Conservation of Stone (New York, United States, 2012)