Hassan Hajjali - Training Bursary - Sarepta Site Cleaning

My MA dissertation in Archaeology at the Lebanese University considers the site of Sarepta and its preservation through virtual recording as a sustainable safeguarding method towards a risk management plan. I chose to focus on sounding X that was excavated by the University of Pennsylvania, which represents the industrial quarter of Sarepta city.

As per the expedition reports sounding X covers an area of an 800-meter square. During my first visit to the site, no archaeological features were visible. All the area was covered by weeds, bamboo, and small wild trees. I was not able to conduct my fieldwork portion of my research with that state of the site that was leftover for years. I had several attempts to clean the site but all were failed due to a lack of funds and the bad economic situation of Lebanon that affected the performance of the official bodies. Until HFF generously accepts my proposal to fund the cleaning process of the Sarepta site.

The initial plan set to clean the site was amended and modified to fit the actual needs on the ground. On 21st October 2021 we started cleaning the site after coordinating with the DGA and the local municipality. Five volunteers participated for six days with three workers that worked for fifteen days. We first started cleaning the sounding, then we moved to the surrounding area where the treasure hunters dug trenches all around the site. 

In the absence of government control during the years of war treasure hunters used bulldozers to search for treasure, causing vandalism, large stones were found around the sounding. It took us fifteen working days to finish cleaning the sounding and the surrounding area. We removed only weeds and garbage accumulated above the archaeological features without disturbing, moving, or digging. After finishing the cleaning process we sprayed the herbicide as the weeds started to grow again. 

The 12th November 2021 was the last day for cleaning, and now everything is clean and clear. These images show the site before and after the cleaning process. I started inserting ground control points for the photogrammetry. I divided the area into small areas and started to take images that I will use to build the 3D virtual copy of the Sarepta site.

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