Heritage management and public engagement

The training in the summer of 2019 was run by King’s College London between 24th-28th June 2019. The single week of training was structured to cover two themes which build on the previous training: 1) damage related to building materials (i.e. stone weathering and conflict damage), its impact on the whole architectural structure and methods for structural stabilization, and 2) co-producing a statement of significance in collaboration with the local community and various stakeholder of the area/site. During the training, the KCL team organised a workshop aiming at co-producing a document called a ‘Statement of Significance’ for the site of Iunca with representatives of the local community and various stakeholders in Mahres-Sfax.

Training team

The team that carried out the training consisted of Dr William Wootton (KCL), Dr Hiba Alkhalaf (KCL) with the assistance of their consultants: Prof. Alaa Elhabashi and Dr. Lisa Mol. The training was supported by Dr Ammar Othman (INP) and with the help and assistance of Dr Ahmed Saad (University of Benghazi) and Mr Ziad Siala (DoA).


This training revisited the holistic methodology we set at the beginning of the project. We worked on creating a greater depth of knowledge in one element from each of the phases: Identification and documentation of the heritage site (using various methods to document the condition of the site), Assessment and analysis (focusing on stone weathering and stabilization), followed by the Response (workshop with representatives of local community and various stakeholders) (see Figure 1.).

Figure 1. Planning Process Methodology adapted from Getty and modified to meet the workshop purposes: source:


Lectures were given in a makeshift classroom in the hotel at Mahares where we also did the group work. The on-site exercises were conducted at the site of Iunca to the south of Sfax and were followed by the processing of the collected data in the classroom.

The training programme ran from Monday morning (24th June) until Friday (29th June). The participants consisted of 11 Libyans and 11 Tunisians from varying backgrounds and with different levels of knowledge about cultural heritage management. The training was designed to pick up from where we left off from our last training in November 2018 and from the feedback they received for their mini- project presentations in Tunis in January 2019. We addressed the participants’ comments from the

2018 training session, with particular emphasis being placed on doing condition assessment focusing on building materials and its deteriorations and writing a statement of significance for the site.

The week was a great success generating much interaction especially during the on-site and in-class exercises. The participants actively participated in group work and discussions in the following areas: stone weathering, layers of damage within the stone and different methods for stabilizing the structure; identifying the main attributes and values of the site, writing a statement of significance; SWOT analysis; setting out a vision for the site; identifying the main stakeholders, their interests and influence; engaging the local community with the proposed management plan, including designing and delivering a community engagement workshop.

The use of these tools resulted in various interactive and creative outcomes presented by the participants throughout the training. It will also be incorporated in their mini-projects and improve their performance on the ground.

The course was developed in Arabic by Hiba Alkhalaf and Alaa Elhabashi, focusing on a value-based approach to heritage management. Will Wootton and Lisa Mol delivered their materials in English with live Arabic translation by Ahmed Saad, Ziad Siala or Muftah Haddad. The whole team were involved in organizing and supporting the on-site and in-class exercises. Hiba worked on the development of the educational materials and exercises for the participants, in particular reviewing the participants’ work on their mini-projects, addressing challenges, planning for documenting sites using various methods and informing decision-making process, preparing the statement of significance, SWOT analysis, stakeholders mapping and designing outreach activities to promote the site and raise awareness of its significance and values. Alaa prepared materials for stabilizing the structure drawing on previous experience on similar sites in the MENA region, as well as the materials related to heritage interpretations. Lisa delivered materials about stone weathering focusing on the most common deterioration like case hardening, flaking and bedding planes. Will co-ordinated the workshop, the activities in class and on-site, and co-organised the stakeholder workshop along with Hiba.

Description of activities conducted

Preparation for the workshop was in two phases: prior to leaving the UK, work was done by the KCL team and their consultants, and the training was agreed and co-ordinated by Hiba – the PDRA from KCL. On arrival in Tunisia, we spent one day preparing for the training with the whole team together. We discussed several scenarios for the on-site and in-class exercises, as well as what the participants had produced during the previous training. The team visited Iunca, where the training was to take place, to make sure the teaching materials were aligned with specific characteristics of the site.

Day 1 – Monday (24th June)

We started the training in the morning session with a general introduction about the project and its activities from last year. We discussed the common challenges and problems that they are facing during their mini-projects. This was followed by a series of lectures about the assessment of archaeological materials and appropriate interventions to stabilize architectural structures focusing on deterioration on structural and materials levels and stone weathering (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. The lectures during the 1st day of training: intro and assessment of archaeological resources and appropriate interventions and stone weathering.

Day 2 – Tuesday (25th June)

The morning session was an on-site orientation exercise at Iunca, that aimed to explore the site from a different perspective to the preceding week – moving from documentation to assessing the level of stone weathering, its impact on the structure and the most vulnerable parts (see Figure 3 ). We tested the stone hardness using a portable tester by Equotip. During the afternoon session, we had two lectures about stone damage following an armed conflict, the layers of damage, and various approaches to stabilize the structure (focusing on emergency interventions).

Figure 3. The orientation exercise at the site of Iunca to identify stone deterioration and assessing the case hardening of the surface using the equipment by Equotip.

Day 3 – Wednesday (26th June)

The whole morning was spent at Iunca working on an in-depth assessment of the fort, describing its condition and considering deterioration and risk. We distributed score sheets to be used to rank the level of deterioration in each of the following cases: bedding planes, flaking, case hardening and cracks in the stones. This was followed by group work at the hotel to put together the results of their assessment concerning each small section of the fort, and proposing possible interventions in relation

to their priority (see Figure 4). Each of the groups agreed on the most vulnerable parts for the whole structure, based on analysing the stone weathering types, its causes and severity.

Figure 4. The groups are working on their in-depth condition assessment (including threat and possible intervention at the site of Iunca, then processing the collected data and preparing their presentations at the hotel.

The afternoon session started with a presentation about the Stakeholder Workshop that we would be running the following day that aimed at the co-production of a statement of significance with representatives of the local community and various stakeholders in Mahres and Sfax. We divided the trainees into groups and provided them with the required tools and tasks that would facilitate their work during the workshop; i.e. SWOT table, Stakeholders mapping, and table of values and attributes.

Day 4 – Thursday (27th June)

We started the morning with further preparation for the workshop before the arrival of the invited stakeholders – the total number of local people who participated in the event was 24. We had divided the day into three working sessions: a morning session where we introduced the project and its activities, screening videos about our previous training seasons and the outreach activity we ran in April 2018 at the site of Iunca, and also introduced the aims and the rationale of the workshop. This was followed by a lunch where the guests were invited to eat with the trainees, discuss their work, exchange ideas and future visions, and develop their professional networks.

Figure 5. The morning session of the Stakeholder Workshop introducing the project and its activities.

During the afternoon, the trainees worked alongside the local community in 5 groups sketching out the values and strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the site of Iunca. Then they produced a statement of significance for the site and proposed a vision for its future. This exercise followed a clear process involving value assessment, starting from an analysis of the site, an understanding of its historical context and the identification of its values. During the third session, each team presented their work in front of the rest of the audience. This event was live-streamed on the Facebook page of the Radio Web Mahares and Radio Shabab Mahares.

Figure 6. Top left the groups are preparing their vision for the site, followed by each group presenting their work to the rest of the audience.

The whole workshop was also covered by a reporter from the local newspaper called ‘AlChourouk who wrote an article about the awareness raising campaign undertaken by our project and about the significance of the site of Iunca. Ammar Othman from the INP, had assisted us by binging together the representatives from local institutions, universities, and civic and cultural associations in Maharas. This exercise provided a forum for the exchange of ideas and visions for the site between the various stakeholders.

Figure 7. The workshop was live streamed online and covered by local newspaper ‘Alchourouk’.

Day 6 – Friday (28th June)

The whole morning was spent in class during which we reviewed the training materials, exercises and the outcome of the stakholders workshop. We focused on the themes that were relevant to their mini- projects and the way to take their new knowledge forward in their work: i.e. conducting condition assessment using our forms we produced in Excel and imported in GIS, identifying various type of stone deteriorations and its causes, and planning for awarness-raising campaign and interactive workshops. We discussed the activities together and then participants were given the opportunity to evaluate the workshop via questionnaires. These focused on their experience of the training by asking them to reflect on how their knowledge had changed, and also our performance. Participants were asked to consider future recommendations for the project and the training specific to the content of the KCL training. This was followed by a certificate giving ceremony to the trainees.

Figure 8. The certificate giving ceremony at the end of the training.

4. Results and feedback

In order to evaluate the success of the week-long workshop from the participants’ perspective, pre- designed Arabic feedback sheets were completed by them. They were asked to assess their ability (on a scale of 1-5), before and after the training, in the following areas: the assessment of archaeological resources, the management of archaeological sites, and local community engagement. They were also asked to comment on the performance of the KCL team. Open textbox questions were added in order to give the participants the freedom to express their opinions regarding the way they intended to use their new skills, the skills they are hoping to develop further, and the ways that we could improve the teaching materials and support them during the course of the project.

The evaluation questionnaire demonstrated that, by the end of the week, participants were much more confident in a number of areas. There was a noticeable improvement in their skill levels in these fields – identifying construction materials and identify the cause of the decay and stone weathering. Participants felt less confident in proposing interventions that aimed at structural stabilization. This is understandable as we had a very short time to discuss these methods and approaches and the aim of this training was to improve their skills in identifying the cause and risks of decay on both building materials and structures.

Figure 9. The outcome of the questionnaire related to their skills in condition assessment and site management before and after the training.

For the skills related to heritage management, the trainees felt confident in identifying the site’s attributes and values, working with local community and understanding the steps to put a management plan. However, they felt less confident in creating a statement of significance. The stakeholder’s workshop reflected this as there is no equivalent document in both the Tunisian and Libyan system. It might take some more effort and practice to improve their skills in producing such a document. However, some of the suggestions from the participants about how they intend to use the skills at their workplace including the organisation of a number of outreach activities and events to engage local community and various stakeholders in site management and to produce a statement of significance. Some also indicated that they would focus on their mini- projects and carry out condition assessments, involving the identification of materials and techniques.

Figure 10. The outcome of the questionnaire related to their skills in public engagement and outreach activities.

Overall participants were very satisfied with the training provided by the KCL team and evaluated most of it between well and very well (see Figure 10). They agreed that questions were welcomed, and appropriate responses given, and that the instructors knew the subject matter very well and gave clear explanations of the topics. However, most of the participants thought that the training speed was too fast and that one week was not enough and that affected the organisation of the training. There was an agreement that the quality of the training could have been better if the duration of the training was a bit longer.

Figure 11. The outcome of the questionnaire about the performance of KCL team.

5. Impact

We started our training asking the participants specifically about the main challenges they are facing during their mini-projects and the main skills that are relevant to their needs. We used the feedback from the last training in June and October 2018 to adjust and improve this year’s training as much as possible. The evaluation shows that the training objectives were met but also highlights where improvements can be made.

In general, the training brought together heritage specialists from different professional backgrounds (archaeologists, architects, surveyors, and technicians) from Libya and Tunisia, all of whom worked for the DoA or INP. They collaborated with each other, assessing the condition of a specific heritage site, Iunca, in terms of stone weathering and negotiated its values with the local community and stakeholders. The exercises, discussions and events they completed showed that they had developed new skills in identifying the stone weathering caused by natural conditions, its deterioration speed and its impact on the whole structure. The most immediately recognisable impact, however, was when they worked with the representatives of local community and stakeholders, especially when negotiating the values and amending their visions for the site. They all worked in an effective way as part of their teams and agreed on certain tasks and responsibilities for each team member.

To ensure the long-term impact of the training, the KCL team, especially Hiba, is monitoring and assisting the participants as they progress their work in their mini-projects. Responding to the participants needs as specified in the evaluation, Hiba is working with several trainees to help organise outreach activities, design leaflets and educational materials while also running condition assessments and proposing a set of interventions for specific sites in Libya and Tunisia.