Restoration

During the season 1994, the mudbrick vaults of the lateral chapels were already restored in order to protect the precious wall-paintings inside. The next year,  the central chapel received a flat roof and wooden door, and the north wall of the courtyard was topped by modern mudbricks. A section of surviving painted mud plaster decoration in the vestibule between the forecourt and peristyle court was protected with a permanent mudbrick facing wall, sealed with mudbrick at its head. In 1998, the reconstructed limestone sarcophagus of Raia was installed on a concrete plinth in the centre of the forecourt, and was then protected in a huge wooden box. Since this was locked and sealed, the beautiful sarcophagus became utterly invisible and inaccessible.

In 2008, further interventions were carried out. Work commenced with the consolidation of the south wall of the peristyle court to prevent the continuing infiltration of sand into the excavated area. The new roof over the central chapel was raised, set to fall to the perimeter, and given a new bitumen isolation and mudbrick covering. The roof was also cantilevered on the courtyard side in order to shade the chapel within. The opening to this space was widened to parallel its original architectural layout, and to allow the chapel to be viewed through a steel mesh screen with double doors. The remaining exposed limestone blocks around the perimeter of the courtyard were protected with a series of ventilated opening timber cupboards. On the south and west sides, these were combined into a single larger ‘L'-shaped unit that also gave access to the southern chapel.  The new wall erected in front of the painting in the vestibule was now perforated by a number of copper ventilation pipes to preclude condensation within the internal cavity. The wall was then plastered to differentiate it from the other, structural, walls which surrounded it.

The reconstructed sarcophagus of Raia was found to be resting on a timber base which was replaced with stainless steel supports. After much discussion, and at the request of the local Inspectorate, the entire forecourt was roofed with a new treated timber structure on built up perimeter mudbrick walls. Although this space had never been roofed in antiquity, the decision was made in order to allow visitors a clear view of the entire sarcophagus which was surrounded with a simple wooden handrail on steel balusters. Steel frame and mesh doors were provided on both sides of this room, and a visitor information panel mounted at the entrance.