Al-Mashhad- Palestinian Institution for Cultural Landscape Studies
The past two decades have witnessed substantial interdisciplinary approaches between archaeology on one side, and humanities and applied sciences on the other, on the grounds that these sciences are no longer just considered as assistants to archeology. Rather, with the rise of modern and postmodern archeology, they are understood as part of the structure of archaeology.
Debates about archaeology in Palestine cannot be conducted without talking about politics, although many of the parties might try to marginalize this issue. The flag of Antiquities in Palestine and Israel is involved in the prevailing of political discourse; in addition to that archaeology was involved in the formation of identity of both Israelis (Kletter 2006) and Palestinians as well (Abu El-Hajj 2001). Existing studies of political discourse in archaeology have had an effect on the formation and deconstruction of the concept of identity, following the rise of new archaeological studies, modern and postmodern trends in archaeology. After the entrance of epistemological, philosophical and anthropological studies in archaeology, the new trends in modern Archaeology dismantle the concepts of identity and its relation to our understanding of the past.
In this paper we will try to shed light on the policies of destruction of cultural landscape in Palestine by focusing on a number of archaeological sites and areas; those are Wadi el-Natuf, in shuqba village.
The main question in this paper is: What is the concept of the destruction of cultural landscape? We will then examine this concept on both theoretical level and on the ground through these sites.
Archaeology is a process of systematic destruction of archaeological sites based on scientific methodology and techniques (Ashmore; J. Sharer 2000). Any work in archaeological sites that does not involve scientific methodology is considered unregulated and may lead to destructive effects.
In this paper the framework for addressing the destruction of cultural landscape will focus on two issues: (1) Social changes in these three villages and their impact on cultural landscape. (2) Political changes and its impact on cultural landscape. In this framework we will focus on the Oslo agreement, the political division of cultural landscape in West Bank, and the reason that thise villages are located in the so-called C areas as Oslo Convention states.
Shuqbah is a Palestinian village in Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate, located 25 kilometers northwest of the city of Ramallah. It is bounded from the southwest by the village of Qibya, from the southeast by Shebtin, from the northeast by Deir Abu Mish'al and from the north by the Israeli colonized of Ofarim. Shuqba has a total area of 13,990 dunams and the built-up area covers 616 dunams. Shuqba was home to approximately 4,497 inhabitants in 2007.
(Wadi el-Natuf); the emergence of the Natufian culture around 13,000 or 12,800 B.C. was a major turning point in the history of the Near East (Yosef 1998: 163). The site was mentioned by Conder in Survey of Western Palestine as a small village on high ground surrounded with trees (Conder 1889, 289). The site also surveyed in 20s of 20th century by father Alexis Mallon of the University of St. Joseph in September 1924 on a journey from Jemmala to Lydda (Boyd 1999: 210). In 1928 Garrod conducted excavation in the site for two seasons, the circumstances leading to the unintended cancellation of the Shuqbah project (Ibid: 212), since that time the site never excavated.
In this paper we will review the process of cultural destruction that is taking place in cultural landscape of Shuqbah, and Wadi el-Natuf in particular. Some believe that the importance of Shuqbah stems from the cave, however, most specialists in the field of antiquities ignoring cultural landscape in this region, where Natufian culture considered as an integral part of cultural landscape of the region, it is not less important than any house built for example, during the Ottoman period.
Emphasis will be placed on the process of destruction the whole cultural landscape. The starting point will be the center of the village (old town), which was built during the Ottoman period. Nowadays the old town is completely abandoned without any interest in traditional structures, and without documentation or restoration process.
Palestinian society has performed numerous changes since 1993; one of them is architectural changes, where the majority of Palestinian villages have seen the process of changes in architecture. This period has witnessed an expansion of these villages in built up areas. This made a bad effect on traditional architecture. The transition from traditional to modern architecture leads Palestinians to abandon and to destroy traditional structures.
The old town of Shuqbah was built on more strata from earlier periods. Through a quick reading of the scatters of pottery inside the old town, there are scatters date to Mamluk, Ayyubed and Crusader periods. There is also evidence in the case of conducting excavations in the vicinity or in the center of the old town; Disclosure of archaeological evidences will be appear from earlier of the Ottoman period, for example, during the work of the municipality near the mosque and the old town workers have revealed by chance on wells and channels. However, these wells and channels were quickly re-filled again without documentation or recording process. People mentioned that there was not any interference by the Antiquities department during this work or any other works in this region, and there was not any intervention to maintain the cultural and historical heritage in the region.
About the landscape of Shuqabh village, there are many Khirabs and archaeological sites around Shuqbah, those sites are devastating without any kind of interest even studies or documentation, even the villagers who are dealing with these sites as personal ownership. Anyone can see the effect of antiques theft. Some people were digging everywhere searching for antiquities.
The major problem in Shuqbah is the apartheid wall in western area, the wall divided the landscape and controlled hundreds of dunams, in addition, the wall has a bad effect on the built up areas, and on the future plans for the natural development of the village, so Israelis will not allow Palestinians to built in many areas around the village especially in western part.
Wadi el-Natuf is facing systematic destruction process. The cave is now surrounded by the expansion of the built up area to southeastern and northeastern sides of the village. Moreover, it is between the bypass roads that cross the mountains from southwest to the northeast side of the village, Israelis started a project to widen the road, so this road will have an effect on the landscape of the Cave. Inquiries in the southwestern side of the cave are destroying the cultural landscape of the village and the cave. To the northeast of the cave, there is an enormous recycle for cars. Inquires in the southwestern side of the cave is destroying the cultural landscape of the village and the cave. In addition to all that there is not any organized visits to the cave, and anyone can enter the cave anytime, anyone allow to do what he want to do inside or outside the cave; empty cans and the remnants of food inside and around the cave.
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