AEMBT – Summary Report

The workshop Ancient and Early Medieval building techniques in the mediterranean area: from East to West has been held from the 12 to the 14 of december 2018 at University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne and at the Maison de l’Archéologie et Ethnologie René-Ginouvès à Nanterre.

The workshop was possible thanks to the European Commission for funding the ACTECH project. A fundamental contribution was given by DIM Materiaux Anciennes et Patrimoniaux (DIM-MAP) of the Île de France Region (thanks to Sophie David and Anne-Fleur Barfuss), by the University of Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne and in particular by the Direction de la recherche et de la valorisation (thanks to Erik Zyla and Sandra Mereu) and from the MAE Nanterre (thanks to François Villeneuve and Laurence Quinty) and in particular thanks to the APOHR team led by Pierre-Marie Blanc. During the workshop an info-point of the Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) was also organized where information material was distributed on the activities of the Association and on the funding possibilities for researchers in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships programme, thanks to Angela Bellia and Alexandros Stylianou for their support.

In these three days, researchers from Spain, France, Italy, Syria, Jordan, Germany and Austria met to discuss the topic of construction techniques in the ancient Mediterranean and their diffusion and transmission between the Late-Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

The first day (december 12th), chaired by François Villeneuve (director of ArScAn and supervisor of the ACTECH project), took place at the salle Doucet in the historic building located in rue Michelet. After the presentation of François Villeneuve who dealt with the themes of dating and study of traditional architecture in the Near East, the session focused on the contribution of historical archives for the analysis and study of ancient architecture in the Near East, with contributions by Piero Gilento (on the Butler’s archive) and Stefano Anastasio (on the photo-archives of K.A.C. Creswell and Renato Bartoccini). Livio De Luca traced the progress on image-based approaches by integrating aspects related to 3D geometric reconstruction, the spatiotemporal modeling, and the semantic enrichment for the study and the recording of historical structures. The session ended with the intervention of Jean-Claude Bessac, who presented a general reflection on the study of construction techniques from the technological and ethnological point of view, taking the example of the city of Jerash. While Pierre-Marie Blanc presented the latest research on pottery by relating the data of projects carried out in southern Syria with the most recent data from on-going archaeological missions in northern Jordan.

The opening of the workshop in the salle Doucet.
Dr. Stefano Anastasio during his presentation on historical archives and Jordan archaeology.
Dr. Livio De Luca speaking about image-based approaches and semanthic web for the study of ancient architecture.

During the second day (december 13th), chaired by prof. Laurent Tholbecq (professor at the Université libre de Bruxelles), the workshop was hosted at the Max Weber center on the Nanterre university campus and it focused on building techniques of Syria and Jordan in the Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods. The morning session was opened by Pascale Clauss-Balty with a speech on the construction techniques of the Roman and Byzantine period in southern Syria. Pauline Piraud-Fournet presented a work on the large complex of the Trajan’s palace in Bosra, while Shaker al Shibib spoke about the construction techniques of the fortifications between the Roman and Byzantine periods in northern Syria. Mattia Guidetti‘s contribution was based on the interaction of churches in the Levant with the Muslims places of prayer in the first centuries of Islam. Piero Gilento instead presented the results of the ACTECH project with the illustration of the chrono-typologies derived from the work done at Umm as-Surab (northern Jordan)in the last two years. Nael Tuhamer showed the most recent activities carried out by the Department of Antiquities of Jordan on Byzantine and Islamic architecture in northern Jordan. Apolline Vernet‘s contribution focused on construction practices for domestic architectures in urban contexts in the transitional period from the Byzantine to the Islamic time in the Near East. Barbara Perlich concluded the day by describing in detail the construction phases of the Umayyad palace of qasr al-Mshatta, which was the object of an important restoration and valorization project.

Dr. Pauline Piraud-Fournet showing the stratigraphical reading on the walls of the Trajan’s palace in Bosra.
Dr. Barbara Perlich presenting the graffiti with pointed arches founded during the restoration project of qasr al-Mshatta.

The third day of the workshop (december 14th), chaired by dr. Antonio Almagro (CSIC – Escuela de Estudios Arabes) was completely dedicated to Islamic architecture in the Mediterranean taking into consideration North Africa and the Iberian peninsula. In the first contribution Jean-Pierre van Staëvel illustrated the building practices in the Eastern Maghreb (Ifrîqiya) during the first centuries of Islam, proposing some methodological reflections on the archaeology of the transition in North Africa. Maria Utrero Agudo focused her speech on some Early Medieval Christian temples on the Iberian peninsula, reflecting on relationships and influences between Christian and Islamic contexts. Pedro Gurriarán Daza concluded the session speaking about the masonry building techniques in Cordoba and in al-Andalus between the VIII and the X c.

Dr. Almagro and prof. Van Staëvel discussing about some aspects of the architecture in north Africa.
Dr. Utrero Agudo showing the methodological approach of her research on the early Medieval churches in the Iberian peninsula.

At the end of the workshop a round table was organized animated by Antonio Almagro, François Villeneuve and Roberto Parenti who summarized the three days of study reflecting further on the topics covered, opening up to new interpretations and working methods.

Prof. Villeneuve, prof. Almagro and prof. Parenti during the conclusion of the 3-day workshop.

The main objective of the workshop was to create a “knowledge network” on a Mediterranean and diachronic scale that gave the opportunity to have a broader view on a complex and heterogeneous phenomena as that of how the architectural know-how (savoir faire) was transmitted in the ancient Mediterranean between Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The contributions of the workshop, whose publication is in progress, will constitute an important work tool to continue the studies on this research line.

Participants after the three long days of workshop, thank you all!

by Piero Gilento

Cite this blog post
Piero Gilento (2019, April 1). AEMBT – Summary Report. ACTECH. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from

Piero Gilento

Marie Skłodowska Curie Postdoctoral research fellow at Paris 1 - Panthéon Sorbonne

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Piero Gilento

Marie Skłodowska Curie Postdoctoral research fellow at Paris 1 - Panthéon Sorbonne

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