1- To cement, or not to cement?
From the first days of April, the Ministry of Culture was faced with media dispute regarding the issue of cementing the Archeological discovery in the centre of Lezha.
The antique wall, 5.20 meters high and 48 cm wide, found in Gjergj Kastrioti square in front of Lezha Municipality was discovered in November 2014 during works of rehabilitation for water pipes.
In one of the public appearances for Klan TV, Minister Kumbaro reacts to this issue emphasizing that after the study, documentation and salvation was conducted, the team of experts and archeologists decided to cover the wall with special materials to leave its study to the future.
The Minister says: ‘’Archeology recognies the technique of documentation, evidencing and providing information and experts have come to the conclusion that it should be covered with a sensitive material, not cement it’’.
Meanwhile, another declaration on the issue was posted on Facebook only, not the official website of the Ministry, which is a legal obligation in the framework of official communication and institutional transparency.
The declaration of the Ministry of Culture on Facebook:
‘’The Ministry of Culture clarifies that the information given this last hour from some media outlets, regarding rehabilitation works in Lezha and archeological discoveries is incorrect.
With respect to the right for information of the public opinion and in respect to the work of experts for cultural heritage who are working on the terrain and other institutions of the Ministry of Culture regularly following the interventions in the territory to prevent any damage, the Ministry of Culture notifies as follows:
Regarding recent discoveries during the implementation of rehabilitation projects in the city of Lezha, the Ministry of Culture, completely responsible and in complete accordance with its mission to preserve, protect and recognize the values of our cultural heritage, clarifies that together with specialized structures under the Ministry, we are following step by step and according to legislation the development of works for several projects such as ‘’Promenade in the Drini river bank in Lezha’’, rehabilitation of the Historical Center, Lezhe (Rehabilitation of Gjergj Kastrioti Square), the Project ‘’Water Supply in the city of Lezha and Balldren’’.
The potential of the city of Lezha is well known, and aware of the fact, the Ministry of Culture is following with rigorosity and respecting not only the methodology in line with the Law on Cultural Heritage, but also the procedures and practices of contemporary urban archeology.
For the case in hand, the project ‘’Water supply network in the city of Lezha and Balldren’’, financed by the German Bank KFW, which aims to rehabilitate the existing water supply network, we clarify that during works the team came across two wall structures and immediately specialized teams of the Ministry of Culture, verified the situation on the ground and the works were immediately halted, pending a decision of the National Council of Archeology, as it is required by law.
The NCA, which met specifically for this event, analyzed in details the projects and required the design and implementation of a methodology for the entire area of the project to precede any similar cases of archeological traces, to conduct preliminary verification of the affected areas from interventions of the water supply network, in line with the work plan of the executing company. This will be followed by the conduct of archeological processes until the complete documentation, a process that in any case will be supervised from specialized structures of the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with archeological experts.
Regarding the latest findings, specifically the structure composed of a rectangular foundation, above which an arch is formed, the NCA decided to look into the possibility of deviating the water supply line.
‘’We clarify that from initial tests and verifications, conducted by archeologists of specialized structures of the Ministry of Culture, the deviation is completely achieveble technically and will be done in the upcoming days from the company that is working under strict supervision from specialized structures of the Ministry of Culture.
This is the methodology that the Ministry of Culture has turned into daily practice, unknown before, putting a halt to the period when archeological treasures were destroyed with decisions and under private and corruptive interests’’.
In the contemporary concepts and practices of preventive archeology, not necessarily each incidental finding in urban areas is extracted on the surface, but it is studied, documented and conserved in the previous state, to enable future generation to know and study cultural heritage. Nowadays is the era of sustainable infrastructure development in our cities in respect of their past and historical nature and especially with the aim to promote these national and cultural values.
What stands out in this notification is that the water supply network was rightfully deviated, which has not been done in the past in the city of Lezha. It seems that after media attention specialists thought deeply about the issue and together with other institutions decided to suggest deviation as a solution.
In addition, the argument that not every incidental finding should be extracted is not very convincing. It would be correct to say that in the concepts and contemporary practices everthing possible is done to transform these findings into an attraction, meaning they would be treated in a way that makes them visible and reachable for the public, not covering them with movable materials. Wouldn’t it be better to treat these findings without the need to return later on to them?
This is a problem that has a solution if the abovementioned arguments are taken under consideration.
If we would look at the images of the central square where the finding is located, we would see that the wall is covered in stone tiles, as in many boulevards and streets of different cities.
But if we were to analyze different models of other countries in these cases, the identification and conservation of these objects of cultural heritage is done with transparent layers in order to not isolate them from public attention so that they are accessible to visitors. This would help reduce the costs and facility to continue the studies in every period and to offer a practical service instead of burying and exhuming the same treasure, every time we need to revise and verify,
At this point, the Ministry in cooperation with other dependent institutions might refer to and apply the same models from developed countries in order to identify values of our cultural heritage.