One of Landward Research’s cultural heritage education projects in Lebanon is taking place in the Qaa, a region located north east of the country along the Syrian borders. On Saturday, July 30th 2022, el-Qaa witnessed the first of a series of educational events, as its rural heritage was celebrated together with its youth. More than 15 teenagers, aged 13 and above, were brought together to be trained on ancient traditional mudbrick building techniques, the authentic architectural legacy of el-Qaa.
This initiative is the first of its kind in the region. As part of the education program of Landward Research’s “Qaa Heritage Revival Project” (QHRP), the team aim to create heritage awareness at a crucial young age, educating the youth on the importance of preserving and rebuilding their authentic rural mudbrick identity and triggering their curiosity to revive their ancestral way of life.
The day was divided into 2 sessions, starting with a 3-hr morning program dedicated to learning the process of mudbrick production. Two master builders volunteered to teach the teens how to prepare the mixture, made up of hay, fine sand, earth, and water as the main ingredients. A shady spot close to an abandoned mudbrick house was chosen. Partly shattered mudbricks, recycled from previous walls, were chosen and the young learned to prepare the right consistency mixture, stomping them with their feet, then pouring it into previously prepare wooden molds. 14 mudbrick adobe were created and left to dry out until the next day. With the support of HIMAM, the local NGO partner, a traditional breakfast was prepared and served, in the presence and support of the el-Qaa’s mayor. Bread was baked close by in a traditional mudbrick oven, known as “Tannour”.
The 3-hr afternoon session was devoted to continuing the database inventory, targeted to collect architectural and anthropological information about the mudbrick houses of the village. This activity was initially started end of last April 2022 with a first full day attempt. The young participants were divided into separate groups and they walked around the village, each targeting a house and noting down its characteristics. In collaboration with several architect restorers and archaeologists, the inventory will build the basis of the successive full architectural database of the village.
Landward Research and QHRP’s team would like to thank all the volunteers, especially el-Qaa’s youth, local enthusiasts, the amazing mudbrick master builders, HIMAM NGO, the Municipality, Lebanese Directorate General of Antiquities, academic partners from the Lebanese University, Department of Archaeology, Branch II and Balamand University, Archaeology and Museology Department, as well as all those who are supporting this initiative.