Landscape view of Iunca in Tunisia
Iunca, Borj Younga, Tunisia  ©

A.Leone, Durham University

We are happy to award the Training in Action project £657,076

This project will train 40 staff from respective Libyan and Tunisian national heritage organisations in documentation techniques, preventative conservation and heritage.

The project intends to serve as a replicable model for Libyan and Tunisian heritage professionals to train new staff, creating a sustainable cultural protection model in turn. 

Tunisia and Libya: rich in the remains of previous civilisations

There are many cultural World Heritage Sites in Libya and Tunisia, both countries rich in the remains from Carthaginian to early Islamic civilisations.

Although archaeological sites are not always considered to be high value by local communities, historically, they have been an important source of tourism to both countries. Much of the heritage in Libya and Tunisia was excavated in the early 20th century and has not been investigated since.

Instability in the region has put the sites at risk, with armed groups present on them or in their immediate surroundings. Much of the area has been placed on Unesco's list of 'sites in danger' and continuing conflict puts the heritage in these two countries in direct threat, with extremist interpretations of Islam gaining purchase and leading to the destruction of pre-Islamic and early Islamic structures.

Creating a replicable model for Tunisian and Libyan heritage professionals

The project will carry out a three-week training programme to train Libyan and Tunisian professionals in:

  • GIS and survey techniques (use of apps, 3D modelling and geophysics)
  • site, monument and object recording
  • preventative conservation and heritage management on site and in museums

Further training for 16 of the most promising trainees will be offered together with intensive English language instruction. 

About the Department of Archaeology, University of Durham

Durham Archaeology is an outstanding department that is regularly ranked as one of the top two Archaeology departments in the UK (e.g. Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, The Guardian University Guide 2017, Complete University Guide 2017) and one of the top five globally (World University QS rankings 2016).

The expertise covers a broad chronological and geographical span, from the Palaeolithic to the present-day, and from South Asia to the Mediterranean, Europe and the British Isles, and established fieldwork projects across the world.

There are a range of cutting-edge laboratories, extensive commercial infrastructure and a network of heritage-sector collaborators to match. Being located in Durham City, a  UNESCO World Heritage site, the department is strongly engaged with issues related to Heritage and Heritage at Risk in many parts of the world, including North Africa, the Near East and South East Asia.

Project partners

  • Dr Anna Leone of Durham University will work with academics from two further UK institutions (Corisande Fendwick, UCL and William Wootton, Kings College London).
  • The project will partner with the Department of Antiquities of Libya and the Institut National du Partimone de Tunisie, to build on an existing relationship with both national agencies, with whom the UK university partners have historically worked closely.