SAH Blog

  • Washington State Slept Here: SAH Archipedia and the Question of Significance

    By
    J. Philip Gruen
     |
    Feb 24, 2015

    A couple of months ago I was asked what seemed, to me, an interesting question. As many readers of this blog likely know, SAH is well on its way to completing the first major stage of its SAH Archipedia project, SAH Archipedia Classic Buildings, where all fifty states will feature online entries of its 100 most “representative” buildings. I’ve signed on, along with my former student and now-colleague Robert Franklin, to co-coordinate the SAH Archipedia project for the state of Washington. Hardly claiming to be authorities on the architecture of the state—we chose to marshal several scholars, preservation consultants, professors, graduate students, and even the state architectural historian to help draft most of the entries rather than attempting to do all of them ourselves. 

    Marcus Whitman Hotel, Walla Walla, Washington (photo courtesy of Robert Franklin)

    Marcus Whitman Hotel, Walla Walla, Washington (photo courtesy of Robert Franklin) 

    But that wasn’t the question. The question came about during an email exchange with a potential contributor recommended to me by a colleague.  Having asked the potential contributor whether s/he would be interested in crafting entries from a list of the state’s 100 most “significant” buildings (quotations in the original), I received the following question:

    Also, are there any particular project specific criteria for determining which candidates for inclusion are the most "significant?"

    The question took me somewhat by surprise. I put the notion of significance in quotes in my email largely because I assumed it was common knowledge that “significance” is hotly-contested terrain, and that even hard-line preservationists holding tightly to vestiges of the “fifty-year rule” would understand that the notion of significance can be sliced many different ways—nearly all of which make sense depending upon the narrative. I avoided the term “representative” because—perhaps mistakenly—I assumed that “representative buildings” would raise more immediate questions or concerns, especially because one could easily interpret a “representative” list to focus upon a “one of each” sort of thing, where all eras or styles would be represented no matter what.  

    Still, the question puzzled me. Maybe I assumed that we are well past the point where we need to explain why a single room occupancy hotel once housing Japanese immigrants prior to internment might be just as significant as a fancy, architecturally-detailed commercial building designed by a megafirm in the heart of a metropolis. Of course, to an SAH crowd or even most preservationists these days, the importance of a cultural landscape approach—which brings to the fore several oft-overlooked or understudied aspects that provide a far fuller picture of the built environment than one might have found in more conventional analyses of the previous century—goes without saying.  But to everyone else? 

    This is by no means intended to suggest that the writer of that question was unaware of such an approach or was critical of ours; indeed, s/he was simply asking the question.  As I had neither divulged our criteria for significance nor provided our working list of the 100 most significant buildings in the state of Washington in my initial email, perhaps s/he would have been less enthusiastic to join a growing cadre of writers had s/he known that the criteria was limited to buildings before 1950, or that all buildings had to be high-style affairs, or that a site needed to be immortalized by a significant event or person in the state’s history—the famous “George Washington Slept Here” mantra. I don’t know.  I never asked.

    But the question did give me pause. Maybe the notion of “significance” remains unclear. Maybe, as architectural historians, we are still talking mostly to ourselves, and the word isn’t getting “out” to a less specialized public that may adhere to other impressions of significance. Maybe we are still in the midst of a long paradigm shift towards a more catholic understanding of significance and a broader acceptance of all building types, periods, and design conditions as worthy of recognition—one that may have begun in the 1960s with the build-up to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.  

    So I decided to respond, and my response grew from one paragraph into a couple of pages. I’ve revised it slightly since my original response, but the gist remains. As I began crafting my response, I quickly realized I was probably writing something that could be applicable for any state—with some exceptions, of course (not every state features the mid-century modernist timber houses of the Pacific Northwest). But I have no authority to suggest it is a template—SAH Archipedia editors Gabrielle Esperdy and Catherine Erkkila would be the ones to consult for that, although their flexibility and wide-ranging perspectives on the built environment indicates that a similar approach elsewhere would not be unacceptable. 

    In the meantime, I remain curious. Do we need to explain what constitutes something such as “significance?” Are we dealing with a moment when such notions have shifted for academics, but not practitioners or the general public?Should we consider more succinct definitions? I don’t have an answer, but I’ve enjoyed contemplating these questions as I’ve ventured into the extraordinarily challenging task of selected the 100 most significant buildings in the state—a challenge I suspect I share with every other colleague coodinating SAH Archipedia projects across the country. Our working list of buildings is available here and our criteria for significance is below. We now send these to every new writer who joins our project. We realize they are problematic, potentially riddled with contradictions, and only partly representative of the types of structures on our current list. But perhaps that is just the point. 

    What do you think?

    -------------------------------------------

    Dear Washington SAH Archipedia writer:

    Thank you for your interest in contributing to this endeavor. As you have had the opportunity to peruse the list of 100 sites, logically you might have some questions. What are the criteria for “architectural significance?” Why did some sites make the list and not others? Why are some areas, building types, or architects represented and not others? 

    The truth is that we don’t have a perfectly satisfactory answer to that question, other than to say 1) the list is still somewhat in flux (every time we look at it, it seems, we remove one site and add in a different one) and 2) limiting this to just 100 sites is the most difficult thing about this project. But it’s also the most exciting and interesting aspect as well.

    As background, the first version of this list was compiled by Professor Jeffrey Ochsner of the University of Washington. He was initially—and logically—asked to coordinate the project (he has vastly more expertise than we do), but he was unable to oversee it. However, he did share his initial list with us and made a number of recommendations, and our current list of 100 builds upon his. One particular feature of Professor Ochsner’s initial list was an excellent geographical balance, as he worked to include a satisfactory number of sites from the far corners of the state. 

    There is some logic to the current list. We are not experts on any of these sites and many we have not yet seen in person, but at this point we’ve at least looked into all of them and tried to understand them within a broad picture of Washington’s history. In general, however, this 100 list (which is not numbered from best to worst—it’s just trying to keep track of how many we have) is trying to present a story, or several stories, of the state through the built environment. We are less interested in cherry-picking buildings simply for their form, accolades, or notable designers and trying to craft stories around them. 

    To that end, one could argue that there is more of a cultural landscape approach to the Washington SAH Archipedia—it is less a guidebook to spectacular works of architecture. We are hoping that the individual entries we receive—while always keeping the built environment as the centerpiece and, if necessary, telling interesting stories about the designers—will not be a “bird book” type of entry that one is likely find in most architectural guidebooks. One still needs to be careful—the architectural details must be incorporated into each entry, including names, dates, materials, and important additions and alterations. Admittedly, in some cases, the “significance” is mostly an architectural one. And, yes, there are a few targeted examples that might say more about architecture or style than about the state or its history.

    We are aware that the geographical distribution of sites is not perfect, but in general it mirrors a proportional population balance (perhaps more so prior to World War Two than today, when there was a larger rural to urban population). For a state list, too, one ought to try to cover the state. Still, we recognize that there are fewer examples on this list in eastern and central Washington than west of the Cascades. Granted, the examples from eastern Washington might not be considered as aesthetically extravagant as equivalent sites elsewhere, but we did wish to maintain a broad geographical coverage.

    There was also the effort to understand the built environment in its widest possible sense. This meant the inclusion of everything from historic districts; works of engineering; industry; landscape architecture; and building types associated with particular ethnic groups to ordinary and vernacular examples including a campsite, a lighthouse, coke ovens, and a grange hall. This meant that the “famous architect” would not always be a criteria for inclusion, despite this being an online architectural encyclopedia. The vast majority of Washington’s built environment is comprised of works not designed by famous architects—both today and in the past—so we wished to provide more ordinary and non-monumental examples than one might expect to find in a list such as this. Even so, we know this list tends to feature the more extraordinary examples of the ordinary and vernacular. And even more still, there isn’t enough of the vernacular! One easily could look at the list and find a majority of buildings designed by notable architects and well-known historic districts and not nearly enough housing types, barns, diners, drive-ins, or motels, for example. Or in some cases, any at all. But we are not adverse to altering the list should there be a compelling rationale to do so, and we have made several changes to the list since it began.

    Chuckanut Drive, near Bellingham, Washington (photo courtesy of Lynette Felber)

    Chuckanut Drive, near Bellingham, Washington (photo courtesy of Lynette Felber)

    We also tried to include buildings from a variety of different time periods, but to those of a more traditional persuasion there are perhaps more than the fair share of buildings from the recent past on the list. This has more to do with preference: we believe more people associate the Pacific Northwest with a particular architecture that has been best articulated from the mid-twentieth-century onward (although there are perhaps earlier precedents that led to this architecture). Put simply, this relates mostly to an aesthetic that features timber; free-flowing space (both interior and exterior); prominent roof-lines; an overall emphasis on structure; and an attention to the surrounding—usually natural—environment. This overall aesthetic or process can be found most prominently in residential design and perhaps broadly (if stereotypically) wrapped up in the term “sustainable” design. It’s a particular kind of sustainability, however—one that incorporates the various building systems within that Northwest look. And, I think, this is what people imagine when they think of the architecture of the Pacific Northwest—and perhaps that of Washington state more than anywhere else. If there is a theme that runs through the Washington SAH Archipedia, perhaps it is that. 

    But it’s hardly representative of the only type of architecture one will discover on the list. There is plenty here from 1870-1940, even if we might argue that one would be hard-pressed to define much unique about Washington architecture during the time period—save for some vernacular examples of barn types; perhaps more company towns than many states; and maybe the preponderance of big engineering works (although that was not necessarily unique, either). Much of the rest of the architecture seemed to be keeping up with national trends, but not necessarily providing their most spectacular or representative examples. (We recognize that this may engender some debate.) Yet we’ve included several examples of non-unique building types: there is the Carnegie Library, for example, as well as the New Deal-era courthouse, the Gothic Revival church, the Art Deco skyscraper, and the historic district notable for its many examples from the Victorian period. These continue to hold plenty of interest, and the public may raise considerable eyebrows if there were no examples of these types.

    But we are not intending the Washington SAH Archipedia to be a call-to-arms; we did not intentionally include those buildings that are threatened with development pressure or in desperate need of repair; if such examples are on this list, it is because we deemed them significant for other reasons (building type, designers, geographical balance, etc.) However, if SAH Archipedia has the spin-off effect of garnering more attention to help preserve some of these buildings and spaces, then certainly that would be a benefit. But it was not a criterion.

    On a related note, we do not intend this list to be a “memory” piece per se; while we certainly hope that our writers will include earlier versions or no-longer-visible histories of the sites they are assigned, we tried not to choose any sites that have been demolished, are slated for demolition, or are altered practically beyond recognition—unless we determined the alterations themselves to be significant. Thus, sites such as Northgate Mall and Yesler Terrace in Seattle—very significant for different reasons initially and both part of our original list—have been removed. Northgate Mall’s original design has been altered beyond recognition and Yesler Terrace is undergoing major changes to make it arguably less significant as an architectural ensemble (although it could certainly be argued that its significance was not “architectural” to begin with). The Alaskan Way Viaduct—one of the most significant aspects of the built environment in twentieth-century Seattle (albeit not one of the most beloved)—is slated for demolition and might be gone altogether within a few years of Washington SAH Archipedia’s projected “go live” date in 2016. Still, we hope that the Washington SAH Archipedia will have another effect of encouraging the public to go out and explore these sites and to be able to recapture some of the important stories the writers are discussing in their essays—hence the reason for coordinates and maps.     

    We also wanted to include a broad range of design styles—although we know we ended up leaving some out. Sometimes this can be accomplished by just covering a series of time periods, but not always. So if you are curious as to why we might have included something such as the Thurston County Courthouse in Olympia (New Deal era stripped-down classical), or the Lake Quinault Lodge near Olympic National Park (“rustic”-style lodge characteristic of national and state park development in the early part of the twentieth century), it’s because we really had few other examples of the style. Could they be switched out with other examples? Yes—if there is a compelling rationale for doing so.

    You might wonder why there seem to be few single-family residences on this list, save for a few well-known examples (Cutter’s Glover House in Spokane, for example, or those houses included within districts, such as the Hilltop neighborhood in Bellevue or the Alphabet Houses in Richland). Perhaps it’s particularly ironic given that we might consider the “Pacific Northwest” style to have emerged out of residential design more than anything. Beyond trying to balance the list, however, it is important for SAH Archipedia that these buildings be clearly visible from a public right-of-way—particularly for the purposes of photography. We are trying as best as possible to avoid any copyright challenges or hassles, and we should not be encouraging the public to illegally access these sites or trespass. This is certainly not to suggest that many houses are not worthy of making this list.    

    Finally, there are some works on here which are perhaps far more interesting because of their “landscapes” in a broad sense, be that landscape political, cultural, or geologic (Teapot Dome; Panama Hotel; Mt. St. Helens visitor centers).

    So… what is “architecturally significant” about this 100 list? That’s difficult to say. We could have made this a much tighter exercise: picking only works in Seattle, or only the top designers, or only eight or so works per decade, or even holding tight to the fifty-year rule and/or criteria A, B, or C on the secretary of the interior’s standards, but such boundaries might have been even more puzzling to folks later clicking through the site who may never venture to gain a broad sense of what is included and why. So if this list looks a little bit messy and seems to lack cohesion, well, that’s entirely intentional. 

    But it also means that the list is still malleable. Already it has been shaped by suggestions, and that too is representative of significance; obviously, we historians, writers, consultants, preservationists, architects, independent scholars, and critics are part of a larger community of folks who help shape “significance”—the buildings don’t have too much significance on their own.  Since everyone seems to have a different opinion about the notion of significance, to have a smattering of opinions represented here, I think, is representative of significance in the mid-2010s! 

    Another good thing is that because this will be online, the first 100 is just that:  the first 100. There will be room to expand over time—something much easier than publishing this in print. If you look at our list on page two, you’ll see the beginnings of the “next 100,” also divided by region. Some of these are sites that were initially on the list and then were removed from it. Some also have moved back, and might do so again as we continue to learn more about them, and as others continue to chime in.

    Thanks again for your interest in this project. We are looking forward to working with you.

    Yours,

    Phil and Robert

     

     

    Phil-web-bio-pic-300x300Phil Gruen is Associate Professor and Interim Director of the School of Design and Construction at Washington State University. Gruen’s principal research involves American architecture and urbanism. He is particularly interested in the tug-of-war between the presentation of the built environment and its experience in human action and memory. His book manuscript, Manifest Destinations: Tourist Encounters in the Late-Nineteenth Century Urban American West, published in September 2014 (University of Oklahoma Press), explores this issue with respect to boosters and visitors in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Chicago. Gruen’s work also has appeared in Montana: The Magazine of Western History (2011) as well as in textbooks, anthologies, and encyclopedias on subjects ranging from monumental urban architecture in the United States to the planning and design of Disneyland in Anaheim, California. He has provided the introductory essay for Architectura: Elements of Architectural Style (Barron’s Educational Series, 2008). He chaired a session on architectural tourism for the Society of Architectural Historians’ conference in 2014, led the “Legacy of Daniel Burnham; Architect and City Planner” study tour for SAH in August of 2009, and serves on the board of directors for the Marion Dean Ross/Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.

    Go comment!
  • Harar and Old Goa: Architectural Hybridity on the Periphery

    By
    Amber N. Wiley, 2013 H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellow
     |
    Feb 11, 2015

    I started the New Year in Harar, Ethiopia, where I was one of few who actually acknowledged the event. The day was like any other day for most Hararis. Ethiopian New Year falls on September 11 (September 12 in the leap year) so there were no fireworks in the sky the night before. It was quite surreal to wake up in a traditional Harari house in this historic walled city and think about the year that lay ahead.

    Over the past month I visited two regions that can be considered “on the periphery” of their respective countries: the Harari region in Ethiopia, and the state of Goa in India. These regions are the smallest in Ethiopia and India, and are often characterized as being in their respective countries but not of their respective countries. It is this air of exceptionalism that attracted Victorian-era intellectuals like poet Arthur Rimbaud and explorer Richard Burton. Harar is the Muslim heart of Ethiopia, and Old Goa the Catholic heart of India. At the same time that they are portrayed as epicenters of great religious devotion, they are often branded as colorful, relaxed, fun, and “other:” a deviation from the norm, a place to break free from the usual.

    Figure-1_WileyFigure 1. Arthur Rimbaud Cultural Center in Harar, Ethiopia. An Indian merchant built the current edifice, now over 100 years old.

    These were trade cities – Harar thrived because of its strategic location along trade routes connecting landlocked Ethiopia to the port city of Zeila in Somalia, the Gulf of Aden, and the Arabian Peninsula.1 Part of the reason I chose to visit Harar was its trade relationship with India. I believed it would be a nice transition between the two countries. Old Goa, a prosperous port under the Islamic Adil Shahi dynasty, fell to the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. Since these were cities with far-reaching cultural and economic contacts they are often defined by their architectural pluralism. Their positions on the periphery, however, often paint them as “exceptional” which is problematic if one is attempting to understand them within the larger context of cultural heritage and preservation studies. As architectural historian Preeti Chopra emphasizes, “Far for being pure, most cultures are a product of diverse influences from others, a result of trade, travel, and conquest.”2

     Figure-2_Wiley
    Figure 2. Church of St. Cajetan (1655), Old Goa, India.

    These regions were contested grounds, important strategically for various empires, dynasties, and religious orders. Trade influenced the development, urban character, and architecture of both the Harari region and the state of Goa. The resulting architectural heritage, then, often highlights structures that facilitate trade such as fortifications, administrative buildings where transactions occurred, and the resultant residential areas and educational and religious facilities that reflect the splendor and magnificence of the trade economy in these areas.

    Harar the Walled City

    If one chooses to visit Harar by air, one must fly into Dire Dawa. Harar and Dire Dawa (formerly Addis Harar) are located in eastern Ethiopia. I spent a week in Dire Dawa, a city established at the turn of the twentieth century that owes its development to the railroad. Although the city acted as an important node from Djibouti to Addis Ababa, the portion of the rail network running from Dire Dawa to Addis Ababa is now defunct.

    The Compagnie du Chemin de Fer Franco-Éthiopien took over railway operations in 1908 after the Imperial Railway of Ethiopia, founded in 1894, folded under financial troubles. The Dire Dawa railroad station is the key architectural edifice associated with the city, and its construction had significant impact on the city’s planning. There is scant literature written about the urban development and architectural heritage of Dire Dawa, and most travel guides treat it as a place one should only visit in transit to Harar.

    Figure-3_Wiley
    Figure 3. Google Map depicting the two major sections of Dire Dawa: Kezira and Megala.

    I found the layout of the city to be quite intriguing. In Dire Dawa there is a stark contrast between the European Kezira section or “new town,” and the older Islamic section, Megala. In Kezira one finds airy restaurants such as Chemin de Fer, housed in a building constructed in 1912, tree-lined streets, shaded villas, and grand boulevards that converge on the railroad station. In Megala one finds a more organic growth pattern, narrower streets, winding roads, and cul-de-sacs. The presence of Indian and Arab traders in Dire Dawa influenced the design details of buildings in both sections of the city.

    Figure-4_WileyFigure 4. Commercial building in Megala, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.

    Figure-5_WileyFigure 5. Residential buildings in Megala, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.

    The jugol city of Harar is considered the architectural prize of eastern Ethiopia, and it also stands as the heart of Muslim Ethiopia. Muslim Ethiopians consider Harar to be the fourth holiest city in Islam, after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.3 There are an estimated 90 mosques and many Quranic schools within the 48 hectares enclosed by the city walls. Harar was founded in the eighth century, Sheikh Abadir introduced Islam in the twelfth century, Emir Nur built the city walls in the mid-sixteenth century, and the city was an independent emirate from 1647 to 1875. The Egyptians occupied the city from 1875 to 1885, Menelik II conquered it in 1887, and the Italians occupied it from 1938 to 1942. Each phase of governance is reflected through the remaining cultural heritage within and outside the city walls.

    Figure-6_WileyFigure 6. Mosque built during Egyptian occupation of Harar.

    For much of its history the city was closed to non-Muslims, and it was only after Egyptian occupation did the city become more accessible to opportunistic foreign traders and merchants. Today coffee and khat are two of Harar’s primary exports, and while those industries are still important to the lifeline of the city; increased tourism is also a welcome addition to the economic structure. UNESCO recognized Harar as a laureate city in its short-lived Cities for Peace Prize in 2002-2003 and inscribed the walled city on the World Heritage List in 2006.4

     Figure-7_WileyFigure 7. Gidir Magala. Italians built this market structure during occupation of Harar.

    The walled portion of Harar retains much of its urban fabric. When Amir Nur erected the walls in 1567 there were five gates through which visitors to the city had to pass (today there are six). These gates have become a distinguishing architectural feature of the city, and are even imprinted on the bottles of the locally produced Harar beer.

     Figure-8_WileyFigure 8. Courtyard of house with elaborate detailing near the Sheik Abudir mosque, Suqutat Bari area.

    The most celebrated aspect of Harari architectural heritage is the traditional Harari house. I chose to stay in one of the popular guesthouses to get a feel for the everyday use of the structure. The programmatic layout of the house is highly prescribed, following cultural conventions. Women and men have certain spaces dedicated to their use, all with various layers of privacy. There are numerous levels to the seating in the living room (gidir gār) that denote the status of family members and guests. Basketry is a prime decorative ornament for the interior of the houses.

     Figure-9_WileyFigure 9. Interior of model house at the Harari National Cultural Center.

    Modern Harar extends to the west outside the city walls. While it was certainly not my intent to highlight architecture of the Italian occupation in all of my blogs on Ethiopia, I find it necessary to mention here. Whenever I made my treks outside the walled city to document architecture from the twentieth century, people were surprised, curious, and a bit baffled as to my intentions. The heritage of significance, according to the guides, townspeople, and tourists I spoke to, was to be found within the walls. Serge Santelli’s chapter “The Structure of the City,” in Harar: A Muslim City of Ethiopia was most useful to me in this regard, as he treats both the old and new city as what they are—two sides to the same coin. That chapter helped me overcome the disconnect I felt when trying to piece the city together myself. It is true, the richness of traditional Harari culture is concentrated within the walls of the old city, and that should be admired. This should not happen, however, to the detriment and disregard for the rest of the city itself.

    Figure-10_WileyFigure 10. Former Italian municipio in newer portion of Harar, outside city walls.

    Goa: Rome of the East, Pearl of the Orient

    I do not believe Goa to be the Rome of the East. Perhaps in a religious sense it is a useful analogy, if one desires to think about Old Goa as a powerful concentration of Catholic practice. Perhaps. But trying to reconcile the nickname with the reality feels false for two reasons. The first is that Rome, the “Eternal City” is truly incomparable. The second is that Old Goa never reached the complexity in function, design, or development that Rome did. Part of the colonizing project, however, is to recreate the familiar in foreign lands, and to engage in heavy boosterism to spread propaganda for political and economic reasons. All that being said, Goa is a gem. An absolute treasure.

    I spent half of my time in Goa in Panaji (Panjim). It is the capital of the state of Goa. I was surprised to learn that the Portuguese had control of the area until 1961. The second thing that surprised me was the discovery that, along with a distinct architectural style that made a lasting imprint on the region, the Portuguese brought the marigold to India. The practice of Catholicism and the architecture it produces felt very much imported, but the marigold has been thoroughly integrated into the social, religious, cultural, and political customs of India. Hindu, Buddhist, and Catholic shrines are all embellished with marigolds. Marigolds are draped on the shoulders of important figures memorialized as statues. The marigold is a ubiquitous symbol of India.

    Panaji was colorful – a distinction also held by the city of Harar. The main advertised attractions of the city were the Church of the Immaculate Conception and the Goa State Museum. The museum was a gloomy affair – its modernist and geometrical design hinted at the grand intentions behind its erection. The building maintenance and the lackluster curatorial effort, however, belied a slim budget that held the operation back from its potential.

    Figure-11_WileyFigure 11. Commercial building in São Tomé neighborhood of Panaji.

    It was the vernacular architecture of Panaji that stood out the most. I stayed in the Old Quarter, or Fontainhas. This was one of the Portuguese residential quarters, and heritage tourism was gaining a foothold in the area. Boutique accommodations catered to a range of economic situations, and several art galleries displayed a variety of work—from traditional ceramic designs to contemporary Goan expressions.

    While doing research on the region I came across a curious passage in an article about the contested heritage of Goa. Travel writer David Tomory covered the protests against the 1998 quincentenary celebration of Vasco da Gama’s landing in India. Tomory states:

    The beauty of heritage—or the privately run heritage business—is that it doesn't depend on the past, offering only history without tragedy—the simple recreation of history's fun bits, such as food, costume, music and “ambience.” Heritage is the old romantic stuff that nobody minds. You can't see it being as contentious in Goa as “history” can be, but you never know…5

    This passage made me think about the tricky relationship between heritage and tourism and the ability for those who have an appreciation for both heritage and history to gloss over controversy for the sake of tourism. I am writing about the beauty of Fountainhas, but I am not writing about the Goa Inquisition. I delight at the beauty of architectural syncretism as it is manifest in Goa. I wonder what the Hindu-practicing Goans think about this heritage. When I visited the Goa State Museum I cringed at the images of Goans carrying Portuguese men from one place to the next on palanquins. The beauty of the architecture comes at a price—one of religious oppression and cultural subjugation.

     Figure-12_WileyFigure 12. St. Francis of Assisi (1661), Old Goa.

    With those factors in mind, it must be said that the churches and convents of Old Goa are truly exceptional. The crisp white structures stand as strong contrasts to the ultramarine sky. The heavy concentration of religious structures at once reminded me of Antigua, Guatemala, another abandoned capital of a colonial territory.6 I visited Old Goa on a Sunday, Se Cathedral and the Basilica of Bom Jesus had active church services. Tourists (and there were many) were not allowed into the sanctuaries during that time, but they could stand to the side of the entrance and take pictures. The Basilica of Bom Jesus additionally allowed tourists to take a side entrance to visit the relics of St. Francis Xavier, the Jesuit leader entombed in the building. Circulation continued from the tomb to the cloister where a Christmas display was still exhibited, and an art gallery highlighted the work of various artists. This setup made me think of some of the major pilgrimage churches I taught about in class, and how they worked as both sites of visitation and sites of worship.

     Figure-13_WileyFigure 13. Detailed woodwork embellishing the St. Francis Xavier tomb niche. Scholars have highlighted the masterful dexterity of Indian carvers who worked on the churches in Goa, albeit in a Portuguese Baroque style.

    Circulation was an important component of a church’s functionality, one that was often overlooked in art historical texts that focused on paintings and sculpture. I wondered how people related to each other in pilgrimage spaces—were they rushed through and hissed at, as I was at the Basilica of Bom Jesus? Was it always the crowded spectacle I experienced on that Sunday in January? I had, up until my time in Ethiopia and now in India, a very romantic idea of religious pilgrimage—a journey of solitude and quiet reflection. I participated in a great pilgrimage while in Harar, traveling to Kulubi for the feast St. Gabriel. The sea of bodies pressed together, the noise, and the vendors reminded me of my time in a crowd of thousands at the first Obama inauguration. My experience at the Basilica of Bom Jesus, being funneled through passageways for a quick glimpse of St. Francis Xavier’s tomb was reminiscent of my trip to the Louvre and the half-second I spent in front of the Mona Lisa. I have begun to think that the chaos of pilgrimage sites is but a small fraction of what makes the experience exciting for the pilgrims/tourists.

    The big story on the news this morning was President Obama proclaiming that Gandhi would be disappointed in the religious intolerance of contemporary India. I have been in India for less than a month, and I am not an expert on the religious or political situation, but that certainly was the opposite of my impression of the country. While in Panaji I came across a governmental sign discouraging city residents from dumping garbage. It stated, “Cleanliness is Next to Godliness” and displayed religious icons of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity. It was in Panaji, the capital of the Catholic state of Goa, where I visited two active Hindu temples. The imposition of Catholicism on the region did not snuff out other religious practices.

     Figure-14_WileyFigure 14. Cleanliness is Next to Godliness.


    Figure-15_Wiley
    Figure 15. Temple in Panaji. I was unable to ascertain the name of this structure.

    Harar and Goa offer very important lessons about our assumptions of architecture on the periphery. These two areas are “othered” in the critical discourse of their respective countries, but are in fact central to their respective religious communities. Harar and Goa are at once on the edge and in the center. Architectural, cultural, and religious syncretism can be found in these places, and in other cities around the world that have served as major nodes for commodity trading. These cities are not an exception – they are the result of trade, travel, and conquest.

    H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship Google Map

     

    Recommended Readings

    Paul Axelrod and Michelle A. Fuerch, “Flight of the Deities: Hindu Resistance in Portuguese Goa,” Modern Asian Studies 30 no. 2 (May 1996): 387-421

    Carlos de Azevedo, “The Churches of Goa,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 15 no. 3 (October 1956): 3-6

    Avishai Ben-Dror, “Arthur Rimbaud in Harär: Images, Reality, Memory,” Northeast African Studies 14 no. 2 (2014): 159-182

    John F. Butler, “Nineteen Centuries of Christian Missionary Architecture,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 21 no. 1 (March 1962): 3-17

    William Connery, “Within the Walls,” World & I 15 no. 12 (December 2000): 184-191

    François-Xavier Fauvelle-Aymar and Bertrand Hirsch, “Muslim Historical Spaces in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa: A Reassessment,” Northeast African Studies 11 no. 1 (2010): 25-53

    “Goan Residences,” Architecture + Design 17 no. 4 (July/August 2000): 76-84

    Elisabeth-Dorothea Hecht, “The City of Harar and the Traditional Harar House,” Journal of Ethiopian Studies 15 (August 1982): 57-78

    T. P. Issar, Goa Dourada: The Indo-Portuguese Bouquet (Bangalore: Issar, 1997)

    Rumi Okazaki and Riichi Miyake, “A Study on the Living Environment of Harar Jugol, Ethiopia,” Journal of Architectural Planning 77 no. 674 (April 2012): 951-957

    Philippe Revault and Serge Santelli (eds.), Harar: A Muslim City of Ethiopia (Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 2004)

    Isaac Sequeira, “The Carnival in Goa,” Journal of Popular Culture 20 no. 2 (Fall 1986): 167-173

    Tibebeselassie Tigabu, “Dire Dawa's Good Old Days,” Africa News Service November 24, 2014

    David Tomory “Reluctant Heritage,” Index on Censorship 1 1999 67-68

    David Wilson, “Paradoxes of Tourism in Goa,” Annals of Tourism Research 24 no. 1 (1997): 52-75

     


    1. See Richard Pankhurst, “The Trade of Central Ethiopia in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries,” Journal of Ethiopian Studies 2 no. 2 (July 1964): 41-91 and “The Trade of the Gulf of Aden Ports of Africa in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries,” Journal of Ethiopian Studies 3 no. 1 (January 1965): 36-81.

    2. Preeti Chopra, “Refiguring the Colonial City: Recovering the Role of Local Inhabitants in the Construction of Colonial Bombay, 1854-1918,” Buildings & Landscapes 14 (Fall 2007): 124.

    3. This title is disputed, as Kairouanin, Tunisia is also held to be the fourth holiest city of Islam. See John Anthony, “The Fourth Holy City,” Saudi Aramco World 18 no. 1 (January/February 1967)

    4. See Jan Bender Shetler and Dawit Yehualashet, “Building a ‘City of Peace’ through Intercommunal Association: Muslim-Christian Relations in Harar, Ethiopia, 1887-2009,” Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace 4 no. 1 (Fall 2010) 

    5. Tomory, 68.

    6. A series of plagues forced the abandonment of Old Goa for Panaji. Constant, deadly, and destructive seismic activity in Antigua forced abandonment of that capital.

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  • The Medieval City and the Pilgrimage City: Gondar and Lalibela

    By
    Brooks Travelling Fellow Amber N. Wiley
     |
    Jan 5, 2015

    Gondar “The African Camelot”

    I looked at the date on Fasilides Castle—1667—and thought to myself “Wow, this is incredible! If only I had known… I would have taught my history class in a completely different way.” The date was important for two versions of a class I taught. The first version was entitled “History of Architecture: Renaissance and Baroque.” The second version was ambiguously titled “History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism II.” In both versions of the course the historical trajectory had found its way to England via Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren by 1666. We spent a little bit of one class period on the urban fabric of London prior to and after the Great Fire of 1666. We were completely immersed in arguing about rational plans versus organic growth versus a combination of the two, or even something completely different for London. And here — here in Ethiopia, just one year after the fire, grand palaces were built at the onset of the Gondarine period. I was shocked at how little I knew about this time in African history, and was intrigued by the date as a way to connect with the Western history that I had taught and with which I was most familiar.

    Gondar was an old imperial capital in northern Ethiopia. Emperor Fasilides ruled from 1632 to 1667, and this was the time frame posted near the entrance to his castle. The building was the first constructed in the Fasil Ghebbi compound. The complex hosted several castles erected by a succession of emperors, as well as one building on the far north side erected by a queen, Mentewab.

    Figure-1
    Figure 1. Library of Yohannes I in the foreground, Chancellery of Yohannes I in the background. Fasil Ghebbi complex. The Italians did reconstructive work on the library between 1938–1939.

    The Fasil Ghebbi complex was breathtakingly beautiful. The shapes, outlines, and details of the palaces were so unique that I regretted not teaching about them before (then, how could I, since I did not know them before?). The three most impressive buildings in the complex were Fasilides Castle, Library of Yohannes I, and the Palace of Mentewab. These were also three of the best preserved. It was hard for me to determine what parts were reconstructed and which were simply conserved. These points are hard to extract from a tour guide, although some can be determined through published articles. Various portions of the complex fell victim to time and natural weathering, others to an earthquake of 1704, and also to damages sustained during World War II.

    Figure-2
    Figure 2. Mentewab Palace in the Fasil Ghebbi complex.

    The exterior detailing of Mentewab’s palace set it apart from the other buildings in the complex. The windows and doors were accentuated red tufa details, including carvings that depicted various cross designs attributed to different regions in Ethiopia. This, of course, was a sign of unity and of holiness. These same details can be found in her banqueting hall at the Mentewab-Qwesqwam Palace, a later complex she constructed outside the Fasil Ghebbi compound.

    A mid-1570s castle erected by Emperor Sarsa Dengel closer to Lake Tana influenced these buildings. That castle, Guzara, was the first of the kind that would be described as “Gondarine style” by scholars of Ethiopian art and architecture. The plan of Guzara castle is square with four circular bastions at each corner. Egg-shaped roofs top these bastions, a feature that was repeated in the palace complex of Fasil Ghebbi. Architectural antecedents of the stone and mortar Guzara Castle do not exist in Ethiopia, and various scholars have posited that Sarsa Dengel employed or was inspired by the work of Ottoman Turks.

    Guzara Castle is little more than a picturesque ruin that sits atop a hill outside a small city. There is no major tourism there — the day I visited I was the only foreigner in sight. Slender, young farm boys followed me through the ruin, asking for pens and money. There was no interpretation at the site, and my Gondarine guide was not extremely knowledgeable about the specifics of the construction. I was extremely surprised to find that Guzara was considered contributing to the UNESCO World Heritage listing of Fasil Ghebbi given its remote location and lack of infrastructure and inclusion within the tourism circuit promoted in Gondar.1 What Guzara provided, more than any major illumination on the evolution of the “Gondarine-style” architecture, was a challenging trek and workout.

    Figure-3
    Figure 3. Former Italian Cinema on main avenue linking Fasil Ghebbi to the post office.

    My main reason for visiting Gondar was actually to see and understand the Italian presence in the city. I was introduced to Gondar through David Rifkind’s 2011 article “Gondar,” published in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Every week a different student in my “Architecture, Culture, and Society” class at Tulane presented the hypothesis of an article related to our weekly themes. One theme was “Empire.”  The assigned readings for the week were two chapters from David Brody’s Visualizing American Empire: Orientalism and Imperialism in the Philippines. I presented the etymological roots of words like “Empire,” “Imperialism,” “Culture,” and “Civilization,” found in Raymond Williams’ Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, and illuminated Edward Said’s theories on Orientalism and the process of “othering.” A very engaged student found Rifkind’s article and presented the thesis, tying it to the discussion we had about the relationship between architecture, urban planning, and empire. I remembered her presentation and the article when I was planning this trip, and knew I had to head to Gondar.

    Figure-4
    Figure 4. Villa in the Italian section of Gondar.

    The Italian presence in the city, beyond the walls of the Fasil Ghebbi, is still very evident, as Rifkind describes. The monumental post office, connected to the Fasil Ghebbi complex by a major avenue, the villas, commercial, and administrative buildings to the north are all quite conspicuous. What is missing is any kind of preservation or interpretation of these sites. Given their inclusion in a controversial point in Ethiopian history I wondered why they had not been demolished, and whether local residents felt some sort of antipathy towards their existence. None of the town residents I spoke to had any strong negative feelings towards the Italian buildings in Gondar. In fact, the Italian presence in Gondar was considered inconsequential to many residents, as I was reminded time and again that the Italians never conquered or colonized Ethiopia.2

    On Faith and Pedagogy

    In order to teach a world history of architecture course, one should be prepped with the world history of faith systems and religion. As humans evolved and mastered the basics of sustenance—hunting and gathering, constructing shelter, farming, domesticating animals—man was searching for the meaning of his existence. Monolithic arrangements were constructed to mark death, the moment when man stopped roaming the earth and stayed in one place. The need to situate ourselves in the world and to remember those who were once in existence gave us some of our earliest architecture. Agrarian societies dependent on the changing seasons, the sun, and rain for good harvests began sacred rituals around those things. That is why the granary shape is an important formal typology in Japanese Shinto religion and various African religions as well. Man’s need to mark cycles of life and cycles of nature on earth and in the sky led to the creation of complex structures, the most famous being Stonehenge. The Egyptians believed in the divinity of Pharaoh, and the erection of pyramids strengthened that ideological relationship. Greeks crated temples for the man-like gods. Aztecs created sacrificial temples dedicated to their gods. Christians erected churches to worship their God. It goes on and on.

    I split most of my time in the 16th–18th century portions of my “Renaissance and Baroque/History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism II” course discussing divergent design trends in the Catholic and Protestant churches. Not once did I cover the Orthodox Church. Orthodox Christianity is a unifying force in most of Ethiopia. In class I talked about Renaissance theories like those of Alberti or the drawings of Da Vinci that focused on the centralized church plans and discussed the fact that the liturgy of the Catholic Church did not support this idealized space. However, Ethiopia has countless centralized churches in addition to basilica plan churches because their liturgy allows for the reconfiguration of space as needed, as long as it abides by one major schematic principal, illustrated below.

    Figure-5
    Figure 5. Schematic from Niall Finneran, “Built by Angels? Towards a Buildings Archaeology Context for the Rock-hewn Medieval Churches of Ethiopia,” World Archaeology 41 no. 3 (2009): 424.

    Figure-6
    Figure 6. Elfin Giyorgis, one of several churches in the Fasil Ghebbi complex.

    Greece is the only other country I have visited where Orthodox Christianity was dominant, and they also have many central plan churches. But even the Greek Orthodox Church has significant differences from the orthodoxy practiced in Ethiopia. I have found a number of religious-cultural practices in Ethiopia to be particularly fascinating as an outside observer. One could easily mistake/conflate/confuse the conservative practices of Christianity in Ethiopia with those of Islam. For instance, taking off shoes when entering into a holy space, and the women covering their heads. There is also a significant amount of circumambulation and prostration that happens both outside and inside the spaces themselves.

    Doing the research here in Ethiopia on Orthodox Christianity was dizzying. Eastern, Oriental, Ethiopian, Greek, Slavic… whew. As archaeologist Niall Finneran reminds us “The Ethiopian Church was tied politically to the Coptic Church and Alexandria and also too, it should not be forgotten, to the west Syrian church as well as the Byzantine world.”3 The ties between these religious practices are very much reinforced by old trade routes that have existed for centuries between some of these ancient cultures and modern day countries.

    “A Necessary but Temporary Evil”

    The first things that one sees when approaching the primary cluster of rock-hewn churches at Lalibela are the large white shelters looming above the internationally famous structures. Let’s just say, the vantage points and pictorial views that are in your textbook are a lie. Except the photographs of Biet Giyorgis (coincidentally it is the most circulated image). UNESCO erected these protective structures in 2008 in a joint project with the European Union, who supplied funds for the construction. UNESCO is upfront in its integrity statement about issues surrounding these structures: “Temporary light-weight shelters have now been installed over some churches and these, while offering protection, impact on visual integrity.”4 Anastase Zacharas, administrator at the European Commission involved with the project called the buildings a “necessary but temporary evil.”5

    Figure-7
    Figure 7. View from outside the second cluster of churches. Lalibela church Biet Abba Libanos with protective shelter. Teprin Associati of Italy designed the temporary structures. This is a modified version from their original commission-winning proposal, which was less visually obtrusive. Façade of Biet Abba Libanos shows cracks on left and center, the right portion of the wall has been replaced. One can see more utilitarian shelter for Biet Lehem in the background.

    The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela faced significant challenges in the twentieth century, including man-made damage. The churches are cut from living rock, and as such have to respond to the shifting of the earth’s surface over the centuries. This led to fracturing and destabilization of the buildings themselves. There is also micro vegetation that has grown in the countless edifice cracks. As Jacek Rewerski, specialist on troglodytes, states “Conserving a cave [building] is a totally different activity from conserving a building made of ‘dead’ stone removed from its environment. A cave building lives, changes and ages with the earth of which it is a part.”6

    In the mid-1950s Italian Sebastiano Console undertook conservation efforts for the churches, adding a “protective” coat of tar to the buildings and covering it with red paint. He also covered the roofs with cement and metal to shield the buildings from water damage that was especially harsh during the rainy season. The rock could not breathe under tar and paint coating, resulting in additional cracking of the structures. In 1966 a joint project between UNESCO, the Ethiopian government and the International Fund for Monuments (later the World Monuments Fund) helped reverse the damaging restorations that were undertaken in the previous decade. The rock-hewn churches at Lalibela would become the first landmark project of the World Monuments Fund.7

    Despite the early attention from the World Monuments Fund, conservation at the site lagged due to the overthrow of Haile Selassie and the rise of the Derg political party. The World Monuments Fund was unable to complete the later phases of its project in the 1970s. International coalitions were not invited to work on the site again until the 1990s. The need for immediate, yet delicate and conservative approaches to preservation work at the site is evident. The UNESCO statement of integrity about the site is telling:

    Structural problems have been identified in Biet Amanuel where an imminent risk of collapse is possible, and other locations need to be monitored. Serious degradation of the paintings inside the churches has occurred over the last thirty years. Sculptures and bas-reliefs (such as at the entrance of Biet Mariam) have also been severely damaged, and their original features are hardly recognisable. All of this threatens the integrity of the property.8

    There are holes in the ground around buildings where previous shelters had been erected. A small section of the Biet Medhane Alem church still bares evidence of the fateful tar and red paint restoration of the 1950s.

    Figure-8
    Figure 8. This image of Biet Medhane Alem illustrates various conservation techniques undertaken at Lalibela over the course of the last sixty years. Original pillars have been replaced. The last vestiges of the tar and red paint are an illustrative reminder of previous harsh alterations to the building. To the right are the posts that hold the canopy of the newest additions—the UNESCO protective shelters.

    Replacement pillars and walls for portions of the buildings that have already failed are conspicuously reconstructed to illustrate the fact that they are not original. In many ways, the work undertaken at this extremely holy pilgrimage site is a case study of best and worst practices for future preservation and conservation students and professionals. Increased tourism is both beneficial and detrimental to the conservation of the site. On the one hand increased tourism means increased tourism dollars being spent in the small town. On the other hand, the churches already receive a significant amount of internal pilgrims from Ethiopia, and the added human presence of foreign tourists can wear down the natural materials of the buildings at an exponential rate.

    Wanderlust: Nomadic Interpretations of Contemporary Africa

    "Have just returned from Ethiopia with a mass of welts from the bed bugs of Seven Olives Hotel in Lalibela,” Colonel Gray wrote in a letter to Richard Howland of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. – one of the [World Monuments Fund] early trustees, "but with the satisfaction of turning over to the Antiquities Administration the completed monument. God preserve me from faraway places."
    - World Monuments Fund: The First Thirty Years

    I guffawed when I read that line. I could relate.9 As I told my father and two younger brothers over Skype on Christmas “It’s nothing like the movies!” My brother Roland asked, “What do you mean, how so?” I replied, “The bed bugs, fleas, mosquitos… wearing the same clothes for days on end… sometimes no hot water, sometimes no electricity.” My dad replied, “So you mean, when Indiana Jones emerges from a cave with a crisp white shirt, it’s not real?” We all laughed. It has been quite the challenge trying to be Indyamber Jones while in Ethiopia. The country’s infrastructure leaves much to be desired, though there are crews working every day to expand roads and make the smaller cities and sites I have visited more accessible.10 The reward, however, is experiencing architectural sites and preservation practices that are so far removed from what I have previously known. Another reward is the opportunity to capture these sites through my photography and share them with the world.

    I am very pleased to announce the inclusion of my photography in an exhibition in the United States while I continue to travel on this fellowship. Several of my works from Ghana and Ethiopia will be a part of the exhibition “Wanderlust: Nomadic Interpretations of Contemporary Africa” at The Project Box, a creative arts space in the Paseo Arts District of Oklahoma City. The show runs from January 2–30, 2015.

    Figure-9
    Figure 9. Wanderlust at the Project Box, Oklahoma City, OK.

    Wanderlust: Nomadic Interpretations of Contemporary Africa” is a group art show highlighting the diversity of Africa through eyes in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Somaliland/Somalia and the United States of America. Curated by Afrikanation Artists Organization (AAO), Wanderlust features work by Oklahoma City-based artists Ebony Iman DallasGay PasleyRonna Pernell, Alex Mutua Kathilu, as well as Zena Allen, the Afrikanation International Art Exchange participants, and myself. Jeff Mims, an Oklahoma City-based Afrikanation musician, will play acoustic guitar during the opening reception, which coincides with the First Friday Gallery Walk in the Paseo Arts District.11

    In addition, Afrikanation Artists Organization USA will be collecting much needed youth art supplies to send to Voices for Street Children/Little Voices orphanage in Addis Ababa and professional art supplies to artists in Somaliland/Somalia. My travel to faraway places has allowed me to participate in an international artist community that is particularly rewarding and meaningful.

    H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship Google Map

    Recommended Reading:

    Sandro Angelini, “Lalibela – Phase I: Adventure in Restoration,” (New York: International Fund for Monuments, Inc., 1967)

    Merid Wolde Aregay, “Society and Technology in Ethiopia 1500-1800,” Journal of Ethiopian Studies 17 (November 1984): 127-147

    LaVerle Berry, “Architecture and Kingship: The Significance of Gondar-Style Architecture,” Northeast African Studies 2 no. 3 (1995): 7-19

    Stanislaw Chojnacki, “New Aspects of India’s Influence on the Art and Culture of Ethiopia,” Rassegna di Studi Etiopici 2 (2003): 5-21

    Niall Finneran, “Built by Angels? Towards a Buildings Archaeology Context for the Rock-hewn Medieval Churches of Ethiopia,” World Archaeology 41 no. 3 (2009): 415-429

    Niall Finneran, “Lalibela in its Landscape: Archaeological Survey at Lalibela, Lasta, Ethiopia, April to May 2009,” Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 47 no. 1 (2012): 81-98

    S. C. Munro-Hay, “Horse-Shoe Arches in Ancient Ethiopia,” Rassegna di Studi Etiopici 33 (1989): 157-161

    David W. Phillipson, “From Yeha to Lalibela: an Essay in Cultural Continuity,” Journal of Ethiopian Studies 40 no. 1/2 (June-December 2007): 1-19

    Jacek Rewerski, “Life Below Ground,” UNESCO Courier 48 no. 12 (December 1995): 10-14

    David Rifkind, “Gondar,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 70 no. 4 (December 2011): 492-511

    Matteo Salvadore, “Muslim Partners, Catholic Foes: The Selective Isolation of Gondärine Ethiopia,” Northeast African Studies 12 no. 1 (2012): 51-72

    Tomohiro Shitara, “A Study of the Methods and Materials Used in the Construction of Italian Buildings in Gondar,” Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering 5 no. 2 (November 2006): 215-220

    Bahru Zewde, “Gondär In the Early Twentieth Century: A Preliminary Investigation of a 1930/31 Census,” Journal of Ethiopian Studies 21 (November 1988): 57-81



     

    1. UNESCO has plans to address these types of issues at the Continental Conference on UNESCO Sites in Africa foreseen in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, in November 2015: http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/1136/

    2. The characterization of Italy’s presence in Ethiopia is also highly debated by the scholarly community, as was examined in my previous blog on Addis Ababa.

    3. Niall Finneran, “Built by Angels? Towards a Buildings Archaeology Context for the Rock-hewn Medieval Churches of Ethiopia,” World Archaeology 41 no. 3 (2009): 424

    4. UNESCO, “Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar Region” http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/19

    5. Sophie Boukhari, "Lalibela's Fragile Churches." UNESCO Courier (July /August 1998): 71

    6. Jacek Rewerski, “Life Below Ground,” UNESCO Courier 48 no. 12 (December 1995): 10-14. The churches at Lalibela fall under the purview of the mission of two separate but important specialist initiatives in conservation. The first is Histoire Architecture Découverte Etude Sauvegarde (H.A.D.E.S.) and the second is the World Heritage Programme on Earthen Architecture (WHEAP).

    7. The World Monuments Fund has expanded its operations in Northern Ethiopia. Work continues at Lalibela, funding for conservation at the Mentewab-Qwesqwam Palace, and Yemrehana Kristos is included on the 2014 Watch List.

    8. UNESCO, “Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar Region” http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/19

    9. I did not stay at the Seven Olives Hotel and cannot speak on their current situation. Colonel Gray’s letter was written in the early 1970s.

    10. The funding and the managerial workforce for these many of these projects come from China.

    11. This information was taken directly from the Wanderlust Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1571301193100544/.
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