In memory of Anis Chaaya

Anis Chaaya

It is with great sorrow that the ARWA Heritage Liaison Group shares the grief of Anis Chaaya’s family, friends and colleagues, after his passing this last Sunday, the 21st March 2021.

Anis was a professor in archaeology at the Lebanese University, board member of different scientific journals, member of the executive board of ICOMOS-Lebanon (International Council on Monuments and Sites), member of ICOM (International Council of Museum) and the director of the archaeological mission of the Lebanese University to the Castle of Jbeil/Byblos. He received his PhD in Languages, History, Civilizations of Ancient Worlds and Archaeology from the University of Lumière – Lyon 2, France.

When, in the framework of the structuring of ARWA, the various liaison groups were being set up, some of us, all militant archaeologists, discovered at the same time that we were united by the conviction that we had to act for a greater responsibility of the world of our research towards the aspects of protection and conservation of the cultural heritage, and in particular archaeological heritage, also seen in its potentialities for sustainable development of local communities. Faced with so many examples in which archaeological activities had been the cause of damage or even destruction of the excavated sites due to the lack of adequate measures, instead of sharing resources also with the needs of transforming the heritage in opportunities of wealth for the people, it was clear and urgent need to establish within the newly formed association of archaeologists a group that would stimulate critical reflection and consequent action to change an unacceptable state of affairs.

Having always practised his academic life based on these convictions, Anis appeared for our group as a point of reference that revealed a life commitment even for those of us who were unaware of his academic position and his work as an archaeologist in the field.

Anis was one of the most active members in the long debate that initiated the establishment of the Liaison Group, and he was always available to share his time and views in a constructive and positive way. In those months of intense discussions among those who later became elected members of the Liaison Group and many others interested in the Heritage debate, Anis’ contribution was constantly directed to the commitment of drawing clear guidelines to be disseminated in order to generalize a proactive approach to Heritage.

Since the inception of our works as members of ARWA Heritage Liaison but also a warm hearted, caring and noble person with a very fine sense of humor.

Though Anis was an international personality and esteemed scholar well known beyond the borders of his Country, he was deeply rooted in the territory of his beloved Lebanon. His interests and passion covered many fields: starting from the natural landscape, soil, mountains, rivers and vegetation to the manmade landscapes of villages, cities, castles, citadels and ruins of the past. His attitude clearly showed his vibrant love for human and environmental heritage, intended as means to build a better society through the involvement of local actors and communities in a perspective of equal and sustainable development.

The blast of Beirut last August 2020 saw Anis deeply involved and active organisations. His experience suggested that we should not lose the relationship with the many NGO’s he supported and all those organizations of civil society in which he placed the hope for the resurgence of his tormented country.

Anis Chaaya left this world and his homeland as he lived, linked to his friends to the very last minute, thinking of the future of his land and caring for all his beloved. He left us with this kind of elegant discretion that was one of his most prominent qualities. We shall miss a gentleman and an adorable friend and colleague.

We, colleagues, indeed fraternal friends, members with him of a group of an association, have preferred to remember him thus, informally, with the intention of conveying to the reader of these lines not only our great sorrow at having lost him, but also our great joy at having enjoyed even for a brief period the gift of his presence, and at the same time our profound admiration for a man of science, action and humanity, who must become a reference for archaeologists not only in Lebanon, but throughout the world.


THE ARWA Heritage Forum

Please find herunder an invitation to the ARWA Heritage Forum (18-20 June 2021).

Dear ARWA Members,

As stated in the Heritage Liaison Group’s synthesis, one of the most important areas to work on is the elaboration of a program of activities centered on the relationships between archaeology and heritage as well as on raising awareness about heritage related matters.

The place where the strategy identified by the Heritage Liaison Group can be confronted with colleagues has been identified in a general meeting, the ARWA Heritage Forum, that will be held online, spread over the 18th, 19th and 20th of June 2021: the time schedule of the sessions, maybe one or two per day, will be determined on the basis of the number and countries of those who wish to take an active part by presenting reflections on the themes that we propose or on reporting their will to participate in the Heritage LG workshops or in other actions (information, networking, meetings, exchanges around a case-study, etc.).

The ARWA Heritage Forum is a place of open discussions and brainstorming.

The results of the debates will help us in defining more precisely the specific roles and tools that can be used by the Heritage Liaison Group to develop its future commitment, with full collaboration with the other Liaison Groups of ARWA and all the members of our association. The content of the 2021 ARWA Heritage Forum will include discussions on:

Heritage and Society, including Heritage and Sustainable development;

Archaeology and Heritage;

Digital Heritage;

Funding, Stakeholders;

Free session.

Participating does not require any kind of preparation or formal presentation.

We hope that the Forum will be seminal in fostering the building of an organic and systemic relationship between Archaeology, History and Heritage, an essential step to back up actions of Enhancement, Protection and Promotion of cultural assets which may be considered important components of any research carried out on cultural heritage.

All those who wish to participate are kindly requested to contact the Heritage Liaison Group at before the 30th April 2021 and select points of interest within the 5 propositions and specifying their time zone.

With our best regards,

The ARWA Heritage LG

Maashi Abe
Anis Chaaya
Sebastiano Soldi
Mohammed Alkhalid
Sophie Cluzan
Judith Thomalsky
Pierfrancesco Callieri
Ferhan Sakal


Heritage Liaison Group Synthesis


Archaeology as part of Heritage

Heritage and its archaeological components are essential to cultural, educational and economic development of each country as supported by the UNESCO Conventions. The sustainable long-term preservation of the results of archaeological research is crucial to the future, requiring the conservation of the remains and their documentation. For a discipline whose research practice partly destroys its object, it is therefore a responsibility and a commitment to document, assess and promote the uncovered heritage remains, to share and disseminate information at all levels and to reach out and engage with local entities and communities.


Principles of Heritage Liaison Group

The Heritage Liaison Group is dedicated to encourage an archaeology with a holistic approach committed to heritage. It will suggest activities focusing on raising awareness about heritage related matters, developing links and actions with the archaeological teams, in support to heritage towards the Countries of activity; interacting with the international community in different circumstances related to heritage questions.

Together with the Archaeology LG, different workshops and a think-tank will be launched to define more precisely the specific roles and tools that can be used by the Heritage Liaison Group to develop its future commitment, with full collaboration with the other Liaison Groups of ARWA.


Heritage Liaison Group in action

The suggested actions of the Group aim at fostering the building of an organic and systemic relationship between Archaeology and Heritage which is an essential step to back up actions of Enhancement, Protection and Promotion of cultural assets which may be considered important components of any research carried out on cultural heritage.


A – Protection

Participation in the identification of the assets through research

The Heritage Liaison Group suggests to consider the data produced by any research as part of the heritage of the Countries of activity and encourages the open exchange of knowledge and data also through implementing documentation practices which take into account research purposes as well as the needs and rules of the Countries of activity.

Support to heritage protection in the Countries of activity

Research teams, local or foreign, should be aware of the legal circumstances and preventive management plans applied by the Countries of activity to heritage, and propose to cooperate with the stakeholders, when circumstances allow this possibility. The Heritage Liaison Group wishes to raise more awareness among field archaeologists about the management aspects of heritage sites and cultural landscapes carried out by the Countries of activity, and among funding organizations about the importance of supporting protection and promotion of heritage assets.

The Heritage Liaison Group may contribute in supporting local or international campaigns in raising awareness about the protection of heritage sites and cultural landscapes and its members may take an active role as advisors in the worldwide fight against illicit trafficking and in informing the colleagues solicited or considering publishing illicit antiquities of the possible consequences of their acts as concerns the ethical principles of the profession.

Taking care of heritage assets with interventions aimed at preventing their deterioration

The Heritage Liaison Group will encourage preventive protection measures of heritage. Moreover, the Group will promote the principle to share protection and conservation knowledge, approaches and reports among the teams and with the Countries of activity as well to support training of local staff.

Taking care of intangible heritage with interventions aimed at preventing their loss

The Heritage Liaison Group encourages actions for the preservation of technical traditions, craftsmanship and skills echoing the technique archaeology discovers.


B – Enhancement, promotion and development

Alongside the Countries where they work, archaeologists may play a major role for the enhancement of cultural heritage. The Heritage Liaison Group will help to promote a respectful “use” of the archaeological heritage in its pedagogic significance, the promotion and the development of cultural heritage, taking into account the necessity of relaying it to the future generations as well as its capacities in terms of sustainable economic development.

The Heritage Liaison Group may be devoted to raise awareness among the local and international community about the importance of heritage enhancement in the perspective of development, and to stimulate and support a network for collaborations between the countries (cultural, educational, heritage and tourism institutions), the archaeological teams, the brother museums around the world, the international institutions, the NGO’s, the foundations or the ongoing International Projects focusing on cultural heritage at the core in combination with education, community outreach, audience engagement, promotion and sustainable development.
Studying cultural heritage concepts into the local society to contribute in formulating socio-cultural approaches that could enhance the protection strategies of endangered territories is also considered a relevant aspect.


C- Natural disasters

The Heritage Liaison Group may contribute to raise awareness about the importance of assessing risks caused by natural disasters, implementing preventive plan and mitigation measures, and creating a solid documentation of heritage at risk which will be the foundation of future conservation and presentation activities.


D – Conflicts

As any other cultural heritage, archaeological heritage is threatened in periods of conflict. As an association of independent professionals ARWA may provide documentation and advices when solicited. As a non-political body, it can be a bridge and be a professional, scientific and ethical voice helping during crisis, with a conscious knowledge of the challenges that professionals may face in such circumstances.


News from the Heritage Liaison Group
September 2020



Following the catastrophic blast that occurred in Beirut the 4th of August 2020, the Heritage Liaison Group discussed the possible ways of helping our colleagues in Lebanon. One possibility would be stimulating and reinforcing an international network in order to evaluate the situation and identify the ways by which help could be brought by professionals in such dramatic circumstances.

The first operative step was taken with the Japanese Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (, a Japanese hub for international cooperation in cultural heritage (Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs). Following the proposition by Masashi Abe, a member of the Heritage Liaison Group, the meeting was set up with the subcommittee for West Asia, one of the seven subcommittees of this organization, and was held on the 2nd of September 2020, online.

Three members from ARWA Heritage LG participated in the meeting: Masashi Abe (Japanese Consortium), Anis Chaaya (Lebanon University) and Sophie Cluzan (Louvre Museum). Lebanon was represented by Jeanine Abdul Massih (Lebanon University), head of ICOMOS Lebanon, and by Anis Chaaya.

From the Japanese side, not only specialists (archaeologists and architectural conservators) from various universities but also staff members from the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and the head of ICOMOS Japan attended the meeting. The possibility of cooperation for safeguarding the cultural heritage in Beirut was debated in detail by Japanese members and our group.

The colleagues from Lebanon had presentations on the current situation of the cultural heritage damaged by the Beirut explosion on the 4th of August, 2020. An evaluation of the necessities as well as their degree of emergency was done. The Japanese organization appeared to show great interest in the implementation of a supportive program, which we hope may take place soon.

Beirut from the sky