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Athens Charter

- a remarkable document, adopted at the First International Congress of architects and Technicians of Historic Monuments, which took place in Athens in 1931, under the auspices of the League of Nations. A R Powys, author of "Repair of Ancient Buildings", still a seminal work, who was secretary of SPAB at the time was a signatory. The real importance of the Athens Charter is that it represented the first major initiative to stimulate international debate on conservation issues. Several general conclusions were reached concerning, the protection of monuments, administrative and legislative measures, aesthetic enhancement, restoration of monuments, deterioration, restorative techniques, and international co-operation. These gave rise to seven main resolutions - the "Carta del Restauro". While they now seem somewhat inconclusive, and no 5 may now even be viewed with some suspicion, they are well worth repeating :-
  1. International organisations for restoration on operational and advisory levels are to be established.
  2. Proposed restoration projects are to be subjected to knowledgable criticism to prevent mistakes which will cause loss of character and historical values to the structures.
  3. Problems of preservation of historic sites are to be solved by legislation at national level for all countries.
  4. Excavated sites which are not subject to immediate restoration should be reburied for protection.
  5. Modern techniques and materials may be used in restoration work.
  6. Historical sites are to be given strict custodial protection.
  7. Attention should be given to the protection of areas surrounding historic sites.
Despite their tentative nature, these resolutions were not re-examined until the 2nd international congress, which did not take place until May 1964, where it approved the Venice Charter. Read it