Experts from the KulturGutRetter project travelled with the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief to Beirut. In an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Friederike Fless, President of the German Archaeological Institute, speaks about the KulturGutRetter operation. The project is currently being developed in the framework of the Archaeological Heritage Network.
On 4 August a huge explosion shook the Lebanese capital Beirut, affecting an estimated 300,000 people. Fatalities, a large number of injured people, the destruction of thousands of homes, and the traumatic loss of personal property were the result. The explosion devastated several city districts, in which a particularly large number of characteristic and beautiful old buildings had been preserved.
The German Archaeological Institute rapidly organized support for the Directorate General of Antiquities of Lebanon and for the Lebanese NGOs that were responding with great commitment. One member of the DAI in the framework of the KulturGutRetter project travelled to Beirut with the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief the day after the explosion. In the week that followed, Axel Seemann, a structural engineer specializing in historic buildings and a member of the DAI’s advisory committee on monument preservation, and Henning Burwitz, a building historian who has been part of the DAI’s Baalbek project for many years, supported the Lebanese Beirut Built Heritage Rescue (BBHR) initiative by working on site and advising in particularly difficult cases.
Since then the DAI has made financing available for several specialized architects of the BBHR2020 initiative, in order to offer rapid assistance in organizing winter protection for damaged buildings and drafting official applications that comply with conservation practice as well as to support the start of restoration work and the activities of the antiquities directorate.
Interview in German: Die KulturGutRetter – Notfallkonzept für akut bedrohte Kulturgüter | Interview with DAI-President Prof. Dr. Dr. Friederike Fless at Deutschlfunk Kultur, Fazit 19.9.2020
The German Archaeological Institute has carried out archaeological work in Lebanon regularly since 1997. A particular focus of its work has been the strikingly well preserved archaeological remains in Baalbek. Its research activities are always accompanied by the development of procedures for safeguarding archaeological and historical cultural assets. The DAI’s experience in the country as well as the jointly conducted conservation and training projects now facilitate the provision of direct and personal assistance in the case of the historic buildings of Beirut.
Titelbild: Damage assessment by Lebanese and German architects and structural engineers specialized in the preservation and management of historical monuments. | Photo: Henning Burwitz, DAI.