Plenary panel discussion 1
“The relationship between archaeology and heritage in the Middle East”
9th January 2020, Randolph Sculpture Gallery, Ashmolean Museum: 17.00–18.30
This panel will be an assessment of the relationship between archaeological methodologies/fieldwork/researchers in the Middle East and heritage. Heritage can be approached in two ways: as ‘critical heritage’ which is a major component of the emergence of heritage studies as an academic discipline; and as ‘heritage management’ which includes the implementation of mostly national policies in the Middle East related to archaeology. Critiques launched from heritage studies have called for the removal of archaeologists and their methodologies from the domain of heritage (for an extreme position, mostly developed in the post-colony of the New World, see Waterton and Smith 2009*). Broadly, this position argues that archaeologists are unable to serve the interests of the public (which is different from the narrow interests of the state), in particular if archaeologists are of European descent and work in formerly colonized countries. Also, the professionalization of heritage management has led to the diminished role of archaeologists globally in the public aspects of archaeology.
Yet, the most well-funded archaeology-related heritage initiatives in the Middle East are driven by archaeologists (and supported by archaeological methodologies, for example remote survey), and some of the largest are based in the UK. Towards answering the question “What is the relationship between archaeology and heritage in the Middle East?”, panellists are encouraged to consider differences between countries in the Middle East, and between the Middle East and other regions of the world.
This plenary panel discussion will be moderated by Mrs. Carole Souter CBE, Master of St. Cross College and former Chief Executive of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund (2003–2016) Memorial Lottery Fund.
Discussion Point 1. Agree or disagree: archaeological involvement in any aspect of heritage is inevitably self-serving, in particular through preservationist agendas that may align with national interests but often do not take account of local interests, circumstances and needs.
Discussion Point 2. Agree or disagree: the gulf between academic/national and local/popular interest in archaeology in the Middle East is as large as ever. So long as archaeological research continues to be mostly foreign-led the gulf between academic/national and local/popular interest will continue to grow, resulting ultimately in the further destruction to archaeological landscapes.
Discussion Point 3. Agree or disagree: the inevitable result of the removal of archaeologists (including foreign ones) from the domain of heritage is the ‘disneyification’ and/or misrepresentation of archaeology.
Discussion Point 4. If ‘sustainability’ is the goal for any resource, what does ‘sustainable’ mean to archaeologists?
*Waterton, E and Smith, L (eds) 2009. Taking Archaeology out of Heritage. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
- Prof. Çiğdem Atakuman (Professor of Archaeology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey)
- Prof. Reinhard Bernbeck (Professor of Archaeology, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)
- Dr. Robert Bewley (Director, Endangered Archaeology of the Middle East and North Africa, Oxford) http://eamena.arch.ox.ac.uk/team/dr-robert-bewley/
- Prof. Eisa Esfanjary (Professor of Architectural and Urban Conservation, Art University of Isfahan, Iran): panellist for ‘Relationship between archaeology and heritage in the Middle East’ http://126.96.36.199/Masters/default/?action=Biography&masterID=ccc0aa1b81bf81e16c676ddb977c5881&LaID=2
- Prof. Ömür Harmanşah (Professor of Art History, University of Illinois, Chicago, USA)
- Dr. Joanne Rowland (Lecturer in the Archaeology, University of Edinburgh) http://www.shca.ed.ac.uk/academic/jrowlan3
Plenary panel discussion 2
“Still digging? The future of archaeology’s methodologies in the Middle East”
10th January 2020, Wolfson College Auditorium, 18.00–19.30
This panel will be an assessment of the viability of archaeology’s traditional fieldwork methodologies in the Middle East today. Ongoing geo-political instability is an obvious consideration that impacts fieldwork, but also the increasing constraints by ministries on foreign/western fieldwork projects, ministries’ prioritization of archaeological conservation and heritage development management over research, the increasing costs of fieldwork, and the recent (funding) success of archaeology projects in the Middle East that have little or no fieldwork presence. As regards the latter, arguably the most impactful methodological developments in the archaeology of the Middle East in the past decade have derived from ‘big data’ projects that rely overwhelmingly on legacy and remote sensing data. What is the future of ‘dirt archaeology’ in the Middle East in the face of geo-political and financial adversity, as well as the expectations of ministries, and potential criticism for its outmoded-seeming methodologies?
This plenary panel discussion will be moderated by Prof. Amy Bogaard, Head of the School of Archaeology and Professor of Neolithic and Bronze Age Archaeology, University of Oxford.
Discussion Point 1. Agree or disagree: Archaeological fieldwork (excavation and on the ground survey) is the most important aspect of doing archaeological research. Without it, archaeology loses its disciplinary identity and begins to resemble other disciplines, for example geography when relying on remote sensing.
Discussion Point 2. Agree or disagree: Large-scale excavation involves outmoded methodologies and can be potentially unethical because of its destructive aspects, and because it relies too heavily on a large pool of local, low-paid labour.
Discussion Point 3. Agree or disagree: It is acceptable to conduct excavation or other fieldwork with on-site security provision.
Discussion Point 4. Agree or disagree: Foreign archaeologists have a responsibility to become front-line cultural ambassadors in the Middle East, which includes committing themselves to national development agendas and improving the socio-economic conditions of local communities.
- Dr. Abdulameer al-Hamdani (Minister of Culture, Baghdad, Iraq) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdulameer_al-Hamdani
- Prof. Alison Gascoigne, (Professor of Medieval Archaeology, Southampton University, Southampton) https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archaeology/about/staff/alg1w07.page
- Prof. Basema Hamarneh (Professor of Early Christian Archaeology, Universität Wien, Austria)
- Dr. Dan Lawrence, (University Lecturer in Archaeology, Durham University, Durham)
- Prof. Scott Redford (Professor of Islamic Art and Archaeology, SOAS, University of London)
- Prof. Assaad Seif (Professor of Archaeology, Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon)