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  • Community Archaeology at Tell Balata, Palestine

    Hamdan Taha, Gerrit van der Kooij

    Chapter from the book: Bonnie, R et al. 2023. Living Communities and Their Archaeologies in the Middle East.


    This chapter introduces the community archaeology experience at Tell Balata, Palestine. It contextualises the aims, objectives and activities of a four-year joint project of the Palestinian Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage, the Faculty of Archaeology of the University of Leiden, and UNESCO’s Ramallah office, in cooperation with the local community. The site is identified with ancient Shechem and had been excavated in the last century by a series of archaeological expeditions, using a typical colonial archaeology, in which the involvement of the local community has been limited to physical work and dirt removal. The project’s main concern was the rehabilitation of the neglected archaeological site, and its development into a modern archaeological park for the benefit of the local community. The Tell Balata Archaeological Park was guided by a management plan based on UNESCO and ICOMOS principles and the management guidelines for World Cultural Heritage sites, in line with provisions of international charters and conventions. The plan determined the level and nature of community involvement. Community outreach activities included clearance work, excavations at certain spots to build capacity in the heritage sector in marginalised areas, involving workers in excavation and restoration work, and connecting the people with the place. Other outreach activities included promotion work, such as signposting outside the site, a site map and trail signage on site, leaflets, education and awareness programmes, the oral history survey, site staff training, and the interpretation centre. Complementary activities included excavation reports, a teacher’s handbook, a guidebook, a documentary film, and additional visitor-friendly provisions on site to facilitate and promote domestic and international tourism.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Taha H. & van der Kooij G. 2023. Community Archaeology at Tell Balata, Palestine. In: Bonnie, R et al (eds.), Living Communities and Their Archaeologies in the Middle East. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.33134/HUP-19-6

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Additional Information

    Published on Sept. 29, 2023


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