Alia Fares

Nationality: Lebanon/Germany
Professional associations: Landward Research, KfW and Lebanon Mountain Trail Association
EAA member since: 2020

TEA: “How do you see archaeology changing in the future?”

A. Fares: “I see archaeology becoming more of a public interest outside of academia. Sites and monuments (as well as their surroundings) are becoming interactive educational centers, where people not only view but can also respond to the needs of their heritage, reflecting on its educational and tourism potential. Archaeologists are turning into heritage managers, assisting the visitor, not only to visit past cultural heritage, but also to integrate that into a deeper understanding of one’s own present identity. Archaeologists are slowly becoming social influencers, more conscientious of the importance of propagating their knowledge to all segments of society, not just the academic milieu. This helps in enhancing the protection and preservation of heritage for future generations.”

TEA: “What is the most important and relevant part of your work?

A. Fares: “Studying ancient cultures and revealing their identities is highly enriching, yet it does not fulfill my own personal goals. My greatest pleasure comes from sharing this knowledge with a wider public, specifically with younger minds. While deciphering the mindset of our ancient predecessors is extremely intriguing, sharing these discoveries with others makes the effort worthwhile.

I just prepared and implemented the Bkaatouta Heritage Weekend (July 31st - August 1st 2021) with an amazing team of heritage volunteers during which we taught young children how to excavate, identify various pottery sherds and understand timelines. Watching those curious kids learn to appreciate, protect and preserve their heritage gives our work meaning. Furthermore, I have been collaborating with local municipal and antiquity authorities in rural and neglected communities to build shared heritage management strategies, thus assisting in the protection of Lebanon’s cultural and natural heritage along a 470km-long hiking trail. Only by passing on our knowledge and properly training local heritage “guards” can we secure the sustainable preservation of our shared heritage. Here also, can I see a deeper purpose to what we do as archaeologists.”

TEA: “What was the most unusual thing you have ever experienced on site?

A. Fares: “After spending five days excavating inside a monastery, my team and I were kicked off the premises by a nun!”

TEA: “Any advice to new archaeologists just starting out?

A. Fares: “If you are passionate about archaeology, please share your discoveries with the rest of the world, don’t publish only in closed academic circles. The human rewards that come with spreading your knowledge more widely are priceless.”

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Photo of A. Fares courtesy of O. Kallab

Flyer 2021 Bkaatouta Heritage Weekend, courtesy A. Fares and E. Akiki