In the face of accelerating development due to a growing population, architectural and historical preservation has become a growing concern for Israel. New regulations and legislation have raised the need for trained personnel to work with architects and public agencies in order to devise and maintain standards of historical preservation. To help meet this need, the Western Galilee College and the Israel Antiquities Authority have cooperated to establish the Israel Center for Conservation Studies, creating an academic program leading to a bachelor’s degree in preservation of historical sites and structures. This program will focus on the preservation of historical sites in the Mediterranean environment, both the theoretical and practical aspects of this subject matter, and will be the first of its kind in Israel.
In order to house this program, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Western Galilee College purchased and renovated a building which was built during the Ottoman period and is located in the Old City of Akko (Acre). The building’s historical character is intact, with high ceilings, marble pillars, tiled floors and carved wooden ceilings. It can provide 1000 square meters of space on two floors.
The beautiful building was purchased and renovated with a most generous gift of Mr. Gary Shiffman, a long time great supporter of the archaeological work of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The Campus of the Western Galilee College is located near the old city of Akko. This geographical proximity has given rise to an interrelationship benefiting both students at the college and the residents of the city. Situating the new Israel Center for Conservation Studies in the Old City of Akko will have many advantages. Practical involvement in preserving sites as the city develops will afford students a direct experience of their program’s goals.
In 2001, UNESCO declared Akko as a World Heritage City with existing international sites worthy of preservation. This declaration was in recognition of the old city of Akko encompassing and preserving structures that date back to Crusader and the Ottoman periods. Since 1990, The Israel Antiquities Authority and the Old Akko Development Company have been actively involved not only in preserving and maintaining historical structures and conducting large scale archeological excavations, but also in building infrastructures for the basic needs of modern life.
Aims and Objectives of the Program
The aim of the Preservation of Historical Sites and Structures Program is to meet the need for well-educated conservationists with solid knowledge of the relevant fields of sciences and technology, history of arts and architecture, principles and methods of conservation, with a common language for specialists from different fields involved in the practice of multi-disciplinary contemporary building conservation.
The Israel Antiquities Authority Conservation Department
The Israel Antiquities Authority is the preeminent organization in the field of Israeli and Biblical archaeology. It is responsible for all matters of archaeology in Israel including land and marine excavations, development and protection of archaeological sites, archaeological research, education, publication, conservation and restoration of objects and sites, and presentation of archaeological material in Israel and abroad.
The Conservation Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority is the leading conservation department in the country for the preservation of Israel’s archaeological heritage, documentation of immovable objects destined for conservation, and the execution of architectural and artistic preservation.
The Western Galilee College
The Western Galilee College was established to meet the demand for academic challenges of the Galilee region. It viewed itself as serving the entire population of the northwest of the Israel within a 20-kilometer radius of its location near the city of Akko. This approach encompassed a population of some 800,000 people – Jews, Moslems and Christians. The college provided many of them with the only opportunity they would have for a post-high school education.
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