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Explanation of the Damage to the Royal Family’s Cemetery in Historic Cairo and Examination of the Building Materials

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Document pages: 32 pages

Abstract: The cemetery of the royal family, who ruled Egypt from 1805 to 1952, isone of the masterpieces of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Historic Cairo. Itis a complex building from massive stone masonry walls supporting hemispherical domes and isvery rich with the marble decorative elements. Unfortunately, it suffersnowadays from serious cracking due to on-going structural damage. Almost all the structural elements arecracked. Besides, the continuous rise in the groundwater table affectsboth its structural stability and aesthetics. A detailed inspection was carriedout to identify and explain all the manifested damage by the structuralelements of the cemetery. The differential settlement damage was found to bevery noticeable in the form of many diagonal cracks that are active andthreaten the overall stability of the cemetery. The construction history wasinvestigated and found to have a clear effect on the noticed damage. Examinationof the construction materials and deterioration products was carried out byinspecting representative samples of the stone, the marble, the mortar, theplaster and the salt. They were examined using different analysis techniquesincluding the Polarized Microscope, the Stereo Microscope, the X-RayDiffraction (XRD), and the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) provided withEnergy-Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) unit. This examination helped inidentifying the type of the used stone, the mortar components, the types ofsalts affecting the structure, and the deterioration manifested by the marble.It seems that the cemetery needs an urgent conservation project to stop thedeterioration and keep it safe for the next generations.

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