Accepted Papers:

Desert oases and deserted villages: changing perceptions of ruins in the Libyan Fazzan  


Stefania Merlo (University of Botswana)
Susanne Hakenbeck

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper focuses on abandoned historic settlements in the Fazzan region of southern Libya and the multiple perceptions of their ruins by the tourists, archaeologists and local population

Paper long abstract:

The oasis in the desert has long had a place in the European imagination. Landscape, people and architecture converge into a timeless image that has attracted European travellers since the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, both in the past and in the present, when the romanticized gaze becomes a closer encounter, where the traveller engages with the material remains of a recent abandonment, the feeling of fascination often transforms into one of desolation and rejection. Within this, the notion of a ruined, sand-swept settlement takes on particular significance, contrasting the 'lost civilization' of the past with its contemporary population. A conflicting relationship with the ruins also characterizes the engagement of the local communities who have memories attached to these settlements but are also negotiating their perceived image of past poverty in contrast with modernized (and often imposed) new settlement patterns. This paper presents considerations emerged during fieldwork on abandoned historic settlements in the Fazzan region of southern Libya.

panel P19
Ruins: perception, reception and reality