Below you will find week-by-week details of our training program.
WEEK 2: UCL ACTIVITIES
The UCL component of the training in summer 2017 (11th – 15th July 2017), focused on affordable rapid survey techniques of cultural heritage with particular emphasis on photogrammetric recording of at-risk sites and monuments.
Corisande Fenwick (UCL)
Gai Jorayev (UCL)
Guy Hopkinson (Archaeology South-East)
Nathalie Gonzalez (Archaeology South-East)
Chris Curtis (Archaeology South-East)
Held at Sfax and Mahares in July 2017, the training included 12 Libyan and 6 Tunisian specialists and they learned the techniques of the rapid documentation of cultural heritage which is of significant local and global socio-cultural, historic, scientific and economic value. The technical methods of photogrammetric recording and surveying with different tools were taught in connection with the overarching ideas about heritage documentation, interpretation and management.
The programme began with the photogrammetric documentation of archaeological objects in the Musée archéologique de Sfax and then gradually moved to documentation of archaeological features and entire sites in Thaenae and Iunca. Although not directly under threat of immediate destruction, these sites had significant fragilities and those were used to focus the discussions on longer-term monitoring, conservation and vision of management. The use of recent and inexpensive technologies in photogrammetry were used to demonstrate the possibilities and the participants were shown how to implement it widely in their areas of work with the equipment they had (ranging from mobile phones to Digital SLRs).
Rapid documentation through photogrammetric means went hand in hand with processing of the data and extracting meaningful outputs that can be employed in heritage management plans, site monitoring and condition assessment, and site presentation and public engagement. The UCL team worked with participants individually where it was necessary in order to make sure that the challenging digital component of the training was successful. Throughout, every effort was made to present the main focus area – Photogrammetry – as part of the wider field of detailed documentation. Its benefits as well as its challenges were discussed openly and the participants had a chance not only to succeed in every stage but also fail occasionally in order to learn from the mistakes. In general, the UCL team wanted to make sure that the participants kept the bigger picture in mind whilst focusing on specific recording or surveying techniques.
Despite challenging field conditions, the week was a great success. The participants learned new techniques and actively participated in group discussions over long-term approaches to documentation and management. They presented their prior work in Libya and Tunisia, linked it up with the themes of the training and identified future projects at their home sites where these techniques would be useful. Channels of communication were established for further discussions between the participants and UCL specialists. The personal relationships built between the UCL staff and different Libyan and Tunisian participants during the training will further facilitate long-term exchange of ideas, discussion of documentation techniques and future collaborative work.
WEEK 3: ACTIVITIES WEBSITE
The KCL component of the training in summer 2017, Week 3 (16th – 31st July 2017), focused on the condition assessment and management of heritage sites and the public engagement.
Will Wooton (KCL)
Hiba Alkhalaf (KCL)
Alaa El-Habashi (Monafia University)
Hafed Walda (Independent)
The KCL team set out a clear training methodology to connect the training materials and exercises from Weeks 1 and 2 with Week 3. This methodology was shared with the participants and used throughout the week as a reference point to organise the materials and prioritize their tasks and actions. It consists of three phases: Identification and documentation of the heritage site (Weeks 1 and 2), Assessment and analysis (Week 3), followed by the Response based on the first two phases.
The focus of Week 3 was the integration of the documentation phase with conservation and management plans: moving from the geophysical survey and photogrammetry of Weeks 1 and 2 to assessing these resources and attributes, then designing, prioritizing and implementing appropriate interventions, and finally setting out a management plan for the archaeological site and its wider context. Throughout the week, we put emphasis on the identification of values and significance from various perspectives as part of the design of interventions and/or management plan, moving from micro to macro levels (and vice versa) when documenting, describing and understanding heritage sites.
The week generated much interaction especially during the on-site and in-class exercises. The participants learned and used new tools and approaches. They actively participated in group work and discussions in the following areas: condition assessment, including possible interventions and their prioritisation; identifying the main attributes and values of the site, writing a statement of significance; SWOT analysis; setting out a vision for the site; producing a set of objectives and a management plan for the site; identifying the main stakeholders and their interest and influence; engaging the local community with the proposed management plan, designing a charrette exercise; and creating and implementing outreach activities for various age groups.
The use of these various tools resulted in various interactive and innovative ideas being proposed by the participants that were further developed with the KCL team. Some of these ideas will be incorporated in the mini-projects that will be run during the 2 years of the project. This will establish communication channels between the Libyans, Tunisians and the training organisers which will result in new professional networks, and result in long-term outcomes from the project.
WEEK 4: ILLICIT TRAFFIC AND HeDAP
Durham University also coordinated a specific training focused on the issue of the worldwide illicit traffic of ancient antiquities, during week 4 (24th – 30th July 2017) in Mahres, Tunisia.
Morgan Belzic (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes)
John Brennan (Durham University)
One of the aspect of the training is the opportunity to train the expert archaeologists in the fight against the illicit traffic of antiquities and provide them with a tool which allows them to quickly record materials in storerooms and sites.
This aspect of the training was seeing as particularly important for the current situation in Libya, where the archaeological objects are constantly under risk of looting and many of them have already reached the international market for sale.
Illicit traffic of antiquities
For all the participants, this training was an absolute novelty and they were initiated to a new world of problems, issues and resolutions.
The issue of the illicit traffic was addressed by Morgan Belzic, who has been working for few years with the international police and ICOM to stop illicit traffic especially from Libya.
The first part of the training was therefore devoted to the explanations to the course participants of the system used for the illicit traffic of antiquities.
They were instructed in the way in which the materials are sent through different countries, to hide their original provenance, they change name and provenance several times, until finally a fake certificate of provenance is created. They appear on auction catalogues often with different photographs, and they are often very difficult to be identified, if someone is not a specialist.
The next step was to explain the participants in what ways can the international illicit traffic can be stopped and how the police can support them in their work of protecting their objects and materials.
This knowledge is essential in the work of the expert archaeologists who are involved in the protection of the antiquities and it was essential to move to the next step of the training, where they were required to use the HeDAP, provide feedback, but also work on the structure of the APP, its vocabulary and its functions.
The HeDAP was created in 2014 with the aim to support a tool useful to fast record objects in store rooms and sites, providing accurate information to be stored in a second phase into the database with embedded the image recognition process, which will be included in the GIS.
The HeDAP had key challenges. The first practical session was at the Marabout at Iunca, where the trainees familiarise with the APP and tested it. After the first session a few issues, both technical and scientific were discussed. These were addressed and corrected immediately a two second practical sessions took place at the Museum in Sfax and at the site of Thenae.
The major issue that emerged was the Arabic vocabulary and a lot of the discussion was around the use of words in Libyan and Tunisian Arabic. It was a great opportunity to have Libyans and Tunisians working together.
The use and different meanings of the words of the two languages generated a very lively debate. The focus was particularly on the vocabulary for the sculpture (both Statuary and architectural materials); pottery and parts of the vessels; and the addition to the APP of a specific set of records for manuscripts and inscriptions, which are often preserved in store rooms.
The training for the use of HeDAP was directed to a small group of staff members of the Heritage sectors of Libya and Tunisia. The restricted choice was dictated by the need to provide advance training, not only on the use of the app, but also on its management. Moreover, the APP has been used since 2014, but is still developing. One of the major issues in the past has been the vocabulary and its translation into Arabic.
The training also included a series of lectures on the illicit traffic (especially from North Africa), its organization and the medium to fight against it.
The feedback indicates that the 87% of the participants found this aspect of the training of great interest and also absolutely new for them. They pointed out how this training was fundamental for them, since they have to deal constantly with issues of stolen objects, and they had never received specific training on this aspect. The 100% of the respondent indicated how this training changed their understanding of the issues of illicit traffic and its prevention.
The 100% of the respondent rated the course excellent and indicated that the whole activity was a great experience for them all for many reasons. They appreciated the opportunity to work in a small team. This gave them the chance to develop numerous discussions, curiosities and allowed them to improve the APP and shape it around their specific needs. All the respondents indicated this as a great added value to the whole experience. They found it extremely formative and it boosted their motivation and interest in the work with the materials to prevent their looting.
The APP was known to the Libyans participants, but it was a novelty for the Tunisians participants. The 100% of the respondent indicated that the APP and the training had changed their perception and their understanding of the importance of object recording and the actions to be taken in order to stop the international illicit traffic. They all engaged with the process of creating a shared vocabulary between Tunisians and Libyans and a common instrument that could be shared between the two countries.
WEEK 5: POTTERY CATALOUGING
Following the request by the Institut National du Patrimoine de Tunisie and Durham University, the Centre Camille Jullian (Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, MCC, CCJ, Aix-en-Provence, France) and the Mission Archéologique Française pour la Libye antique have organised at Iunca/Mahrès training on pottery cataloguing and analysis, for Libyan and Tunisian archaeologists during a week (24th – 30th July 2017) in Mahres (Tunisia).
Michel Bonifay (CCJ/MAF)
Sami Ben Tahar (INP)
Mongi Nasr (Université de Sfax)
The training focused on the analysis of the pottery that was collected during the survey in the first week. The aim was to form ceramists able to identify the artefacts and their chronologies.
During the first week of training were surveyed 28 transects (north-south and east –west). During the survey, they have systematically collected the pottery for a total of 300 GPS collection points. The study of the pottery has been carried out in seven days, following all the phases of the pottery study, from washing the vessels, marking, fabric analysis, typology, filling in the catalogue, photographic documentation and drawings.
The training also included theory and practical demonstrations (tables and drawings) on the computer. The basic bibliography used during the course has been provided for the course participants during the training.
The training allowed the cataloguing of the pottery collected during the survey, e.g. 5000 recorded fragments collected in 350 GPS points. The documentation included 747 photographs and 53 drawings. The catalogue has been integrated in the GIS elaborated under the direction of Dr Marco Nebbia (Durham University).
The impact of the training was very evident in the field and it is well reflected into the responses to the questionnaires.
The pottery training had a strong emphasis on the practical activities. This approach has been chosen for two reasons. The first was dictated by the nature and the aim of the training. The trainees were primarily archaeologists employed by Institutions active in the field of Heritage protection, therefore, given the short period of the training, was imperative to give them the basic, fundamental knowledge of the pottery processing and analysis, so that they can support the fieldwork. The second was, in fact, the response to the specific response by the trainees and follow their own request.
They all indicated that the training has completed changed their approach and their understanding of heritage recording and highlighted the importance of the material culture, which they always ignored. They now fully understand its importance and its added value, for dating the sites, for understanding commercial connections and also for providing information about the sites and plan their protection.