On 9-10 July 2019, and within the framework of the Baalbek and Tyre Archaeological Project (BTAP II), UNESCO Beirut organized a 5th and last workshop on the Baalbek Conservation Works. The Baalbek and Tyre Archeological Project falls under “UNESCO’s Documentation and Advisory Services” (UDAS) project, through which UNESCO aims to provide technical assistance to Lebanon’s Ministry of Culture/Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA) to control works and monitor conservation measures at the two World Heritage Sites of Baalbek and Tyre, noting that the conservation works are carried out by the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) and funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS).
The two-day final workshop brought together all the concerned parties, including the DGA, the CDR, consultants and contractors of the BTAP project, in addition to local and international experts, in order to discuss the adopted conservation measures at Baalbek site. On the first day, participants went on an inspection visit to examine the works that have been undertaken on the whole site of Baalbek, particularly on the Jupiter temple. The second day, all participants met at UNESCO Beirut Office to assess the results of the undertaken surface and structural conservation measures related to the second phase of the BTAP project and to discuss the quality and effectiveness of the implemented measures at Baalbek World Heritage Site.
In his welcome note at the meeting, UNESCO Beirut’s Programme Specialist for Culture, Engineer Joseph Kreidi, noted that through this project UNESCO was able to “provide expertise in order to ensure that conservation works on the sites of Baalbek and Tyre comply with international standards that would preserve and enhance the outstanding universal values upon which both Tyre and Baalbek sites were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List”. Kreidi highlighted that: “During the implementation phase of the BTAP project, and as a result of the discussions among the DGA, CDR, and the project’s consultants and contractors and the UDAS experts, several amendments were introduced to the original plans based on the experts’ recommendations and feedback following the in-depth study of method statements and reports as well as field investigations of planned and implemented works”.
Experts Teresa Patricio (Vice President of ICOMOS, Belgium) and Pierre Smars (Member of the International Scientific Committee on the Analysis and Restoration of Structures of Architectural Heritage/ISCARSAH) then made a presentation in which they shared their observations about the ongoing conservation works. The experts offered the DGA and CDR recommendations to guarantee risk-free interventions on the Baalbek site and ensure its balanced conservation.
Speaking of the value of the UDAS project, expert Teresa Patricio said: “This project is an example, a model to be followed, because it is rare to see different teams coming together, working together, and sharing their information and expertise. For the past 5 years, this was the uniqueness and the strong point of the UDAS project: the collective, collaborative work, and the sharing of information among stakeholders”. She added: “The effort of UNESCO to bring together international and local experts to share opinions and expertise on the Baalbek conservation works should be highly praised, as this is a unique initiative”.
Mr Antoine Alouf, member of Baalbek Municipal Council, asserted: “We are very grateful to UNESCO for carrying out this project because it managed to draw the international community’s attention to the Baalbek site, and brought international expertise to ensure that the conservation measures are carried out according to international standards in order not to jeopardize the outstanding universal value of this World Heritage Site”.
It is to worth noting that the UDAS project shall continue until the end of 2019 in order to follow up the complete closure of the BTAP conservation works at both World Heritage Sites, Baalbek and Tyre.