Scientists from the environmental pollution control laboratory of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki collected for the first time samples of solid deposits from the Arch of Galerius – or “Kamara” as it is locally known – in Thessaloniki, to establish the degree of damage caused by air pollution.
The project is organized in cooperation with the Thessaloniki Ephorate of Antiquities.
Chemistry professor Konstantina Samara, who is also head of the laboratory at AUT, told “Praktorio FM” the particulate matter is deposited on the monuments and the ingredients they contain accelerate the deterioration of monuments, especially those made of marble.
“We collected samples of solid deposits and crust to make specific analyzes – chemical, morphological, mineral/chemical – to provide some useful information to the Ephorate who will judge when and if the monument needs new conservation work,” she said.
Samara said the lab will also examine the evolution of air quality through time because the atmospheric pollutants do not remain at levels they were at 20 years ago, like sulfur dioxide.
“We want to examine the relationship between air pollution and the damage observed at the monument,” she said, adding that the answer to this question will help any new conservation project for the Arch.
The 4th-century monument was commissioned by Roman Emperor Galerius along with the neighbouring Rotunda to celebrate the victorious campaign against the Sassanid Persians in 298 A.D. and the capture of their capital Ctesiphon.