Artozia and the Politics of Archaeology


“The Ministry of Culture then offered a bizarre “solution” that entailed unearthing the ruins and registering them, then covering them up with soil and 30-50 centimeters of concrete so that buildings could be constructed on top of them.

Burying ruins is an internationally recognized technique for preserving monuments when they are in danger. A time-resistant fabric is placed to isolate the ruins at the modern ground level and the archaeological discoveries are then covered up with sand or soil. This technique is used to bury rooms or mosaic floors. But this is the first time in the world that a whole archaeological site is being buried. Lebanese politics have imposed new methods in the field of archaeology.”

Artozia: The Many Ruins of Nahr al-Bared by Joanne Bajjaly

Gertrude Bell on the 1910 Masterpieces of Muhammadan Art Exhibition

[21 August 1910]
Sunday Munich

Dearest Mother. I had a delightful day at the exhibition today. All the professors were taking a holiday so that I had the library to myself. I read a great big book all through – it was about carpets, but it had lots of other things in too, and I felt at the end that I had got a good way forrader. The exhibition is in the Ausstellungs-park – you know, near the huge statue of Germany. I lunch in a little open air restaurant near it, which saves time and is pleasanter than the hotel. It’s broiling hot – I love it.

Today before I came away I found in the park a place where a lot of orientals are sitting and carrying on their trades. So I sought out the Syrians – they are from Damascus – and had a long gossip with them. One was a Druze and he told me all the news of the Hauran. I was delighted and so were they for they never have anyone to speak to.

I am going to lunch with the Pagets tomorrow and then I shall hang about till Hugo comes. I have used these evening when I have been alone to write an article on the Persian and Arab poets for Mr Richmond. I hope it is all right. I think it is. And I am glad to have it off my mind. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

I’m writing to Father tonight.

(from the Gertrude Bell Archive, via Eva-Maria Troelenberg’s fantastic article on the exhibition in the latest Journal of Art Historiography)