Conservation of archaeological sites in Syria: Ugarit as a case study
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The conservation of cultural heritage responds to the necessities of understanding the site’s history, developments and key values. Archaeological heritage comprises tangible and intangible evidence so conservation operates equally on the two main domains, archaeology and architecture, which are inseparable and feed each other. Moreover, urban dimension is essentially included where the cultural heritage presents interesting urban settings linked to the architectural and cultural values. This thesis addresses all these important issues with the aim to identify, preserve and present the cultural values of archaeological sites in Syria, which are exceptionally rich in representing most of the Western ancient civilisations. The thesis focuses on the City of Ugarit, the capital of an important Bronze Age civilisation. The thesis aims to establish a poignant conservation concept on different scales, ranging from micro single architectural unit, the house, to the macro scale of the entire city. The study probes the ways of employing archaeology and architecture to produce conservation principles and architectural approaches for identifying, preserving and presenting the site’s cultural values. These procedures expose tangible and intangible values of the city, facilitate strong engagement of the visitors with the archaeological ruins, and simultaneously protect the original fabric from the visitation flux. The study is built upon understanding Ugarit’s archaeology, architecture and even social aspects, combining them in the analysis of each key area (Royal quarters, Domestic areas and Temples) to form well-founded interpretations and prioritise values. The proposal eventually combines all studied areas in a comprehensive narrative, which feeds the urban proposal for the whole city. In understanding the very rich and complex sites in Ugarit, a combination of in situ surveys, systematic recording, extensive analysis of literature and archaeological reports, and architectural reading of the fabric are carried out. This framework is a coherent base for the architectural intervention choices, which attempt to balance preservation implications and new materiality. Building virtual models of the proposed interventions enables the test of volumes, materiality, choices and the overall architectural experience. These models present the proposed interventions together with the original ruins. Therefore, the models are a great vehicle to transmit the reality of the conservation proposal and enhance its perception.