What the Past Reveals: Heritage Conservation and Values Across Time
Speaker: Lisa Ackerman, Executive Vice President and COO, World Monuments Fund
From the earliest days of settlement to the present, communities have attached meaning to special places and have conveyed values through the buildings erected and the cities that have evolved. From the discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum centuries ago to the finding of the Lod Mosaic 20 years ago, we are fascinated by the process of discovery, analysis, and conservation. We understand instantly that the past is telling us something about life long ago, as well as what we learn about the contemporary world when these ancient artifacts both reveal and retain their secrets.
World Monuments Fund has, since 1965, devoted its activities o partnerships around the world that assist with advocacy, documentation, conservation, and interpretation of historic architectural and archaeological sites. While the emphasis is physical conservation, the benefits of the work are often increased local capacity for caring for sites, greater public awareness of the reasons preservation matters, and a reimagining of the ways in which the past and present intersect at historic places. Increasingly, heritage has been in the news because of attacks on historic sites and by extension on cultural identity. The Lod Mosaic is an important example of the way in which conservation and exhibition of the work serve as a beacon. WMF has not worked at Lod, but its work in the region and in other locations shares similar values that illustrate the benefits of understanding international heritage.
This lecture series has been made possible by the generosity of Isaac Gilinski.
Predators and Prey: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel
In 1996, workmen widening the Jerusalem–Tel Aviv road in Lod (formerly Lydda), Israel, made a startling discovery: signs of a Roman mosaic pavement were found about three feet below the modern ground surface. A rescue excavation was conducted immediately by the Israel Antiquities Authority, revealing a mosaic floor that measures approximately 50 feet long by 27 feet wide. This large and extraordinarily detailed mosaic floor has only recently been carefully removed from its site and conserved. Found in a large villa believed to belong to a wealthy Roman, the excellently preserved mosaic floor dates to about AD 300.