Emergency Measures to Prevent Collapse of the Monumental Arch of Ctesiphon

Taq Kasra, Iraq

Amount $ 775 000

Years 2020 - 2021

Operator University of Pennsylvania

project status Completed

Type of grant Emergency relief

Consultancy for Conservation and Development

The Arch of Ctesiphon (Taq Kasra), located 40 km south of Baghdad, was built in the 6th century CE. It is the largest brick vault and the largest free-standing arch in the world built before the modern era. A part of a Sasanian palace complex, it stands at 37 meters high and 26 meters wide, making it an exceptional monument of great historical and cultural significance. Taq Kasra poses a significant conservation challenge, and a series of partial collapses of the brick vault in 2019 and 2020 showed the urgency for stabilization measures.

Following these collapses, the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities approached ALIPH in October 2020 to request funding to stabilize the arch. ALIPH responded by first supporting an evaluation of the monument’s state of conservation, followed by financing all the recommended emergency measures.

In early 2020, ALIPH financed digital documentation work conducted by Iconem to create a high-resolution 3D scan of the site. To support the arch, the University of Pennsylvania and the Consultancy for Conservation and Development commissioned specialized scaffolding built in Turkey and designed especially for the arch. It was installed at the end of 2021 along with sensors to monitor cracks in the monument and prevent further collapse. A comprehensive conservation plan for this monument and site is also being developed.