The Tunisian-British Project at Bulla Regia was established in 2014 as a collaborative endeavour between the INP and UCL. Prompted by Dr Chaouali’s discovery and salvage excavation of a new late antique church and cemetery outside the site boundaries in 2010, the collaborative project was deliberately designed to explore and document the site’s neglected late antique and medieval history and bring to publication this important new discovery within the remit of a training project. The project combines multiple techniques – remote sensing, photogrammetry, excavation and bioarchaeological analysis – to reconstruct the urban development of Bulla Regia from its Numidian origins to its abandonment in the middle ages and to understand the diet, health, origins and mobility of its late antique inhabitants. Our methodology prioritises non-invasive archaeological methods (remote sensing, geophysics, photogrammetry) of standing late antique monuments and analysis of material in the archives, supplemented by targeted small-scale excavations to answer specific research questions. Fieldwork was postponed several times in 2014 and 2015 because of the security situation in the region of Jendouba, but subsequently a geophysics season was conducted in 2016 and a season of rapid documentation with limited excavation took place in 2017.
This presentation will describe the rationale and history of the project. It will describe the problems that the security situation posed for the project and how rapid documentation techniques combined with a responsive and flexible approach has enabled us to achieve our goals. It will then discuss the challenges and opportunities that rapid documentation techniques offer to record, research and conserve Tunisian heritage through a comparison of our work on recording two monuments with very different excavation histories: the church and cemetery uncovered in the rescue excavations of Dr. Chaouali in 2010 and the Church of Alexander excavated, but never fully published, in 1914 by Dr. Carton.
Dr Moheddine Chaouali, Inspecteur du Patrimoine, Institut National du Patrimoine
Dr Moheddine Chaouali is Inspecteur du Patrimoine for the North-west of Tunisia, as well as holding the post of chargé de recherches at the Institut National du Patrimoine and is responsible for the management of the archaeological sites and museums of Bulla Regia and Chemtou. He received his PhD from the Université de Provence at Aix-Marseille (Centre Camille Jullian) in 2008. A specialist of Roman Africa, his particular research interests are Roman estates, epigraphy, roads and Roman monumental architecture. He is scientific director of multiple international collaborations, including an INP-World Monument Fund project restoring the mosaics of Bulla Regia, a Tunisian-Italian project studying and restoring the theatre at Bulla Regia and the Tunisian-German project at Chemtou excavating the Numidian town and Roman temple. In addition to these international projects, he has directed rescue excavations at Thuburnica (the temple of Saturn), Vallis (a villa urbana) and at Bulla Regia (the western cemetery).
Dr Corisande Fenwick, Lecturer in Mediterranean Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, UCL
Dr Corisande Fenwick is Lecturer in Mediterranean Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. She received her PhD in 2013 from Stanford University. Her research focuses on late antique and Islamic North Africa and the western Mediterranean. She has worked extensively in North Africa and currently co-directs excavations at Bulla Regia in Tunisia and the UNESCO site of Volubilis in Morocco as well as being the medieval specialist for the Wadi Draa project in Morocco and Ghadames in Libya. She is also Co-I of the British Council-sponsored Training in Action project for Tunisian and Libyan specialists and responsible for the training initiative in photogrammetery and UAV survey. She is Honorary Secretary of the Society for Libyan Studies.
Dr Gai Jorayev, Heritage Management Manager, Centre of Applied Archaeology, UCL
Dr Gai Jorayev is Postdoctoral Research Associate on the British Council Training in Action project and the Heritage Management Manager for the Centre of Applied Archaeology at UCL. He received his PhD from UCL in 2013. His current research interest areas lie in modern uses and management of heritage as well as public archaeology. Gai has extensive experience of working collaboratively on large-scale commercial and research projects and his current work is closely linked with initiatives of international organisations such as UNESCO, ICOMOS and UNWTO. As well as focusing on cultural heritage and preservation, Gai is experienced in local capacity building and has led multiple heritage education initiatives. Gai also leads the UCL research group in the uses of unmanned aerial systems for documentation of complex archaeological landscapes, and he is experienced in spatial analysis and modelling. At Bulla Regia, Gai is responsible for developing photogrammetric recording system for the project and training Tunisian students and researchers in photogrammetric techniques.