Contested Cities in Heritage Landscapes

Square in Jerusalem

Square in the Old City of Jerusalem © David Gill

Dr Britt Baillie, researcher with the Cambridge University ‘Conflict in Cities‘ project, addressed the UCS Heritage seminar today on the theme of ‘Re-bordering Jerusalem’. Baillie reminded us of the historical landscapes surrounding Jerusalem as well the way that communities have been dissected by modern political boundaries. Her research included a case study on the ‘village’ of Walaja, to the north-west of Bethlehem. She reminded us of the importance of the Ottoman records providing information about land-holding. This linked to my own work on Harry Pirie-Gordon mapping this part of the world in 1917/18.

I was struck by her presentations on ‘time lines’ and the emphasis on the Second Temple Period. I was struck how the Hadrianic rebuilding of the city was down-played or even ignored in modern narratives.

The images of collapsing terracing-systems reminded us how a cultivated landscape, dating back for a couple of millennia, was being allowed to disappear.

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