During the cleaning up in the famous six columns of Baalbeck

Cleaning Baalbek Temples

A group of activists protested few days ago because of the unprofessional restoration, which distorted the sculptures especially the Temple of Bacchus.

Baalbek temples, one of the greatest treasures in Lebanon, have witnessed the passage of numerous cultures. Lebanese people take pride in having Baalbek temples as one of its touristic place. “Although the Temple of Baalbek is a Roman temple, is still viewed as Lebanese heritage amongst the people, and considered one of the most phenomenal historical symbols in the world and dates back to almost 200 A.D” argues Paula Nawfal(2017), the president of citizenship club at LAU. “Therefore, its history, location and design has augmented its importance which made it a praise Lebanese monument” (Nawfal, 2017).

Lebanese and Syrian workmen during their break of cleaning up

The Council for Development and Reconstruction has started with preservations and restorations of the temples and the archaeological constructions of Baalbek in 2015 with funding from the World Bank. In addition to the participation of Lebanese and Italian experts, as well as specialists from the International Council on Monuments and historical sites (ICOMOS) and UNESCO, monitored the cleaning of the temples. “Experts are here to improve the structures of the temples, not to ruin it,” said Mhamad Awada(2017), the Head of the Tourism Committee at Baalbek. He continues to explain that “these temples are exposed to natural factors that are harming the temples, so it is a must to clean up the first layer in order to maintain them.”

Nevertheless, activists who opposed this decision described the cleaning of Bacchus temple as “aggressive”. “The difference between the temples before and after the cleaning is easily observable,” said Ali, the tour guide at Baalbek temples. “The loss of the first layer of these monuments resulted in a loss in their historical value,” he added. The guide described the differences between the original and the newly reformed Bacchus Temple. “Here are the sculptures of dancing girls inside the Bacchus temple, which was the first night club in the history; they faded now.”

Remnants of workers during the cleaning process

The Municipal of Baalbek denied all the charges that this decision is an aggressive one. “The cleaning process was done with the best techniques (laser), and according to specific criteria,” noted Awada (2017).

However, from an architectural view, this decision has two effects on the temples. “The restoration process done for Baalbek ruins especially Bacchus and Jupiter temples has two effects, positively in a way that a constant care must be taken of the pilotis of the temples so we would be protecting them from devastation and falling apart.” Said Amina Alban(2017), an architecture student at LAU. “Whereas the negative side is losing the ornaments sculptured on the portico of the temples caused by using old reconstruction techniques.” Added Alban.

Effects of fungi on the temple

And of course we shouldn’t marginalize the aesthetic side of Baalbek’s temple alongside their outstanding historical and touristic one. “Baalbek is an essential hub of tourism for Lebanon since it encompasses the historical beauty of the country. Therefore, establishing Baalbek International Festival that gathers singers and shows from all over the world to carry out a well put festival. Amidst political turmoil in Baalbek and the region, the festival still goes on, proving the Lebanese’s strive to continue living and to continue promoting Baalbek as a historical location,” Nawfal (2017).

Before and after the cleaning of Jupiter’s Temples

Aljadeed tv( 2017)

[Video file]. Retrieved from :http://aljadeed.tv/arabic/news/news-reports/020320174?keyword=%D9%82%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A9%20%D8%A8%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%83

Yehya, I.(2017) Man youshaweh kalaat Baalbek? Aljoumhouria

Retrieved from :http://www.aljoumhouria.com/news/index/353445

Yehya, I.(2017) Mohawala li tashweeh kalaat Baalbek. Aljoumhouria

Retrieved from :http://www.aljoumhouria.com/news/index/59263

Ismail, W.(2017) Maza yahsol fi maabad Bacchus al athari. Annahar

Retrieved from :http://www.annahar.com/article/544050-%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B0%D8%A7-%D9%8A%D8%AD%D8%B5%D9%84-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%AB%D8%B1%D9%8A

Baalbek municipality: 03 413 456

Mhamad Awada(the Head of the Tourism Committee at Baalbek) : 03 226 455

Amina Alban(Architecture student at LAU): 70 667 748

Paula Nawfal(The president of citizenship club at LAU): 03 730 796

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