The painted ceilings of the Great Mosque of San'a, one of Yemen's major monuments and among the oldest in the Islamic world, represent an exceptional example of the quality and extent of medieval woodworking still surviving in the Arabic peninsula. Because of their precarious condition due to centuries of attack by xilophage [wood-eating] insects, the Social Fund for Development of Yemen asked the CCA, Centro di Conservazione Archeologica, to draft a conservation plan to consolidate, restore and protect the ceilings. The project was formulated on the basis of data collected on site in February 2001 in a fact-finding mission by two conservators of the CCA.
They documented the ceilings' condition, performed cleaning tests, gathered original samples for scientific analyses and the technical information necessary to formulate the conservation program. The project objective was to preserve the painted surfaces and the wooden support, creating the material and environmental conditions for their conservation. Apart from direct conservation treatments, a series of activites to prevent future damage were included in the program, as well as regular maintenance and study of the surfaces.