Historical mortars have proved to be very durable and present an extremely good performance as part of ancient masonry, in the role of renders, plasters or joints. Therefore, the knowledge of their composition, behaviour characteristics and decay mechanisms is a very relevant issue from the cultural point of view but also for the planning of conservation interventions and the design of techniques and materials to be employed.

The spread and discussion of the conclusions of four research projects recently developed by the organizing institutions, together with the need at an international level, of increasing the knowledge in this area, with the aim of promoting the protection of cultural and historical heritage, have set the background for this conference.

The research projects, financed by FCT- Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, are the following: Cathedral - Characterisation and Conservation of Traditional and Historical Mortars from Alentejo’s Religious Buildings; Development of methodologies for the evaluation of the effects of humidity in old walls; Conservarcal - Lime renders conservation - improving repair techniques and materials on architectural heritage; Study of compatible mortars for the preservation of the built heritage.

These projects involved interdisciplinary work teams, promoting the exchange of information and the work of scientists from different fields necessary for historical mortars studies, such as: Engineering, Chemistry, Architecture, Conservation and Restoration and result of the cooperation between LNEC (Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil), UA (Universidade de Aveiro), UE (Universidade de Évora), FC-UL (Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa), IST (Instituto Superior Técnico), IPT (Instituto Politécnico de Tomar) and DRCALEN (Direcção Regional de Cultura do Alentejo).

An objective of HMC08 is to bring together scientists and technicians related with the Cultural Heritage preservation field, promoting interdisciplinary discussion for the scientific studies in conservation of historical mortars as historic heritage. Therefore, professionals of the area are invited to participate in the Conference and to transmit their knowledge and experiences in the processes and forms of old mortars’ decay, as well as in the application of scientific methods for their conservation and preservation.