The HFF Post Doctoral Fellowship (PDF) granted to Dr. Lucy Semaan for a period of three years, from 2015 to 2018, is the first initiative of its kind by HFF in Lebanon. The research will be undertaken jointly under the supervision of Dr. Nadine Panayot-Haroun, head of the Department of Archaeology and Museology at the University of Balamand, Lebanon, and Dr. Lucy Blue, head of the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton, UK. Dr. Semaan will be essentially based at the University of Balamand with regular research stays at the University of Southampton.
The main research interest of this PDF considers the development and the significance of the maritime cultural landscape of the ancient site of Anfeh, in North Lebanon; and poses the question how did people use and modified the waters and adjacent coasts of Anfeh in ancient times? Textual evidence and vestigial remains on the site’s promontory and surrounding underwater environment suggest substantial maritime activity and practices from the Late Bronze Age to the Ottoman Period (Panayot-Haroun 2015). Previous underwater visual surveys were undertaken at the site in the seventies by Chollot (1973: 152), in the early nineties by Amadouny (1999: 61-75), and in the past decade by the late Lebanese archaeologist Michel Hélou†; but these were not systematic nor comprehensive. In October 2013, an international team of maritime archaeologists under the supervision of Dr. Semaan undertook a preliminary underwater visual survey (Semaan et al. in press). This survey assessed the important archaeological potential of the waters of Anfeh and provided a preliminary idea of the underwater topography and physical settings.
Hence, the focus of this PDF is to pursue and build on these previous underwater endeavours and aims at reaching a wider appraisal of the underwater cultural heritage of the waters adjacent to the site. Underwater surveys would attempt to locate shipwrecks which are indicative of seafarers and seafaring, navigation routes, boatbuilding techniques, and trade. Meanwhile, identifying harbour installations and anchorage points would shed light on the use of the physical environment, i.e. the coastal landscape and shallow waters, as well as on the economy and maritime sustenance at the ancient site of Anfeh. The research area extends from the promontory of Ras al-Natour to the north, stretching along 1.5 km south of Ras al-Qalaat until the geographical limit of the Barghoun River; while covering a 2km2 area in the open sea.
In addition, the study of the characteristics of the bio-physical environment of Anfeh (hydrological, meteorological, sedimentological, and oceanographic) would help to understand how these enabled and/or constrained, maritime activity in the past. Thus, there is a need to expand an appreciation of this aspect of the coastal and underwater landscape through geomorphology, remote-sensing, and a study of sea-level changes. This will help reveal the nature of the maritime connectivity of Anfeh’s coast with the sea and neighbouring coastal communities; how the maritime space was experienced through the ages and how this changed over time; and most importantly the maritime accessibility that Anfeh’s coast afforded to people and how cultural and natural agents modified and engaged the maritime landscape.
Finally, this PDF is a crucial step towards promoting capacity building in the field of maritime archaeology in Lebanon, one of the Honor Frost Foundation main goals. It will contribute to the knowledge of Lebanon’s archaeology by establishing a firm three-year maritime research program to investigate an otherwise understudied aspect of one of the most relevant historical and archaeological sites in North Lebanon. The results of this PDF would be published in a monograph to diffuse information and advance maritime research in Lebanon and beyond.
Amadouny, Z.E., 1999. Plongée archélogique sur le littoral libanais, Beirut.
Chollot, M., 1973. Perspectives d’archéologie sous-marine au Liban. Cahiers d’Archéologie suaquatique, 2, pp.147–156.
Panayot-Haroun, N., 2015. Anfeh Unveiled: Historical Background, Ongoing Research, and Future Prospects. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology & Heritage Studies, 3(4), pp.396–415.
Semaan, L. et al., The underwater visual survey at Anfeh. In N. Panayot-Haroun et al., Mission archéologique d’Enfeh. Résultats préliminaires des travaux de prospection et de fouille 2011 – 2015. Bulletin d’archéologie et d’architecture Libanaises, in press.