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Contemporary archeology vis-à-vis benefits of heritage assets : a case study of Alexandria’s lighthouses and their integrity in the industrial heritage

2:30 PM, Lundi 29 Août 2022 (20 minutes)
The contemporary city is an urban palimpsest, consisting of archaeological accumulations- of the built environment, the surface, and buried subsurface- that are traces of the pasts entangled with one another in the present. Being influenced by the earlier modern material of cultural studies, and identification of the contemporary archaeology concerning the built structures of the traditional lighthouses is studied, as mentioned by the UNESCO, among others for the industrial heritage. The term contemporary archaeology is an academic momentum that has been introduced recently in 2003. It deals with three spheres; spatially, temporally, and materially. It engages critically with the material remnants and social phenomenon of late modern societies. Spatially, it identifies the transitory states of landscapes, context, and memories. Temporally, its focus is shifting; studying a moment that is not fixed to a specific phase. Materially, the physical traces of the past in the present are viewed diachronically as a palimpsest- assemblages of layered overlapping histories. Alexandria city, with its famous Pharos lighthouse, is studied, especially it is regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Although it is collapsed, its fame is still surviving. Adding to this, Pharology, which is the science of designing lighthouses, is named after the Pharos. It became necessary to study other lighthouses in Alexandria that shaped the urban sphere of the city and are not well recognized before they fall into obscurity, not only because the most famous lighthouse overshadows them, but also because of the risk of becoming outdated as a result of breakthroughs in navigation technology. Not to mention the urban context of the lighthouses that is transformed dramatically in the last years, due to political actions and socio-economic aspects which made these lighthouses and their contexts for the ports abandoned and gradually disappearing into what is called the course of urban (re)development. Consequently, contributions must be given to document the cultural heritage, memories, and benefit from the built structures and its context as a pivot for reviving different spots throughout the city with the community, thus creating a creative narrative composed from an invisible layer of the city. Creativity as a target to benefit from the heritage assets is having a role in the recent past apprising understandings of heritage that are socially engaged and responsive to site-specific political ecology. It highlights particular forms of practice and addresses gaps within the political ecologies of urban places that, if addressed by practitioners, may result in collaborations between individuals and the constitution of heritage. Also economically, there is a potential for these lighthouses are open for touristic actions and creative projects. This paper sheds light on the memory of the existing lighthouses and their contextual transformation throughout the understanding of contemporary archaeology and proposing a set of potential and projects that can be taken into the level of implementation adopting a socio-economic development. Based on the analytical and descriptive approaches, historical maps and images are studied and analyzed through sequential phases to the current situation.
UNESCO| World Heritage Centre - Brandenburg University of Technology-Cottbus
Urban Heritage Planner at UNESCO, World Heritage Cities Programme | Urban Researcher and Architect
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