From March 19 to April 6, 2007, the GCI and Tunisia's Institut National du Patrimoine (INP) conducted a workshop entitled "The Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites in Tunisia."
The workshop evolved out of a partnership between the INP and the GCI that was initiated in the late 1990s with the training of Tunisian site technicians in the documentation and maintenance of Roman-era mosaics. To complement this first phase of training, the GCI and the INP designed the recent workshop for approximately twenty-five young INP professional staff—archaeologists, architects, engineers, and historians—all of whom have some responsibility for archaeological sites and built heritage throughout Tunisia. The objectives of the workshop were to provide participants with a more comprehensive understanding of the principles and practices of conservation; to relate these international principles to specific situations encountered in Tunisia; to emphasize the need for holistic and interdisciplinary perspectives when devising strategies for conservation; and to strengthen professional bonds among the course participants, most of whom had not previously worked together.
The GCI assisted the INP in the development, planning, organization, and implementation of the three-week workshop, which was held at the eastern coastal town of Hammamet. This location was selected because of its proximity to the sites of Pheradi Majus, Thuburbo Majus, and El Jem, each of which was used for training and field exercises. The workshop was taught by an international team of conservation professionals from Tunisia, Egypt, Canada, England, Italy, Belgium, and the United States, who collectively provided a broad context for the application of conservation principles.
The GCI and the INP plan to build on this activity through the continued mentoring of workshop participants. Three times in the coming year, participants will reconvene for about one week, meeting at a Tunisian site where the issues of archaeological site conservation and management are particularly challenging, as well as representative of the problems and conditions these INP professionals regularly encounter. These activities will be designed as opportunities for the practical application and reinforcement of the lessons learned during the spring 2007 workshop. Through the initial workshop and follow-up mentoring activities, the GCI and INP hope to nurture a new generation of professional INP staff who will be well equipped to lead the way in sustainable conservation of Tunisia's cultural heritage.