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Actualité de la recherche
Débats. Archéologie et diplomatie européenne en Méditerranée
II. — Regards croisés sur l’action des pays européens face à la crise libyenne [entretiens]


Muftah Alhddad
p. 355-357

Texte intégral

Before the crisis

Can you present an overview of your teaching activity at the University and archaeological field research?

I am currently Associate Professor of Archaeology and Ancient history at Azzaytuna University in Tarhuna, Libya. My teaching covers field archaeology methods and theory, landscape archaeology, the use of GIS in archaeological site survey and documentation. During my doctoral research period (2005-2010), I gained experience in the archaeological heritage of the Sahara, participating in two significant archaeological projects that were directed by my supervisor, Professor David Mattingly: Desert Migrations Project and Peopling the Desert. My current research interests include the archaeology of Roman Tripolitania, ceramic production and typology, and the development of a spatial-database for Libya’s cultural heritage.

Did you collaborate with projects carried out by foreign institutions? Can you describe what cooperation with foreign colleagues was about?

Yes, I have collaborated with a number of projects carried out by foreign missions and institutions. This activity mainly started after finishing my PhD study in 2010. Shortly after returning home to Libya I became the first director of the Documentation and Digitalization of Cultural Heritage Centre at the Department of Antiquities (2012-2015). During this period, I collaborated with the American Archaeological Mission, taking part in its work in Libya. From 2014 onwards, I began to work with the University of Durham, coordinating a number of training courses for Libyan archaeologists and conducting seven archaeological field surveys in different regions of Libya. The most important of these field-survey projects was the Gebel Nafusa Survey, undertaken in April and May 2015. I’m also currently a member of two projects funded by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund: Training in Action and Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA), the latter also funded by Arcadia.

In 2011 and since then

In 2011, when the war broke out in Libya, did you plan local field missions with partner foreign institutions?

No, I did not, but I directed a local fieldwork mission without a partner of foreign institution, that was an excavation at Suffit archaeological site, Gebel Nafusa, December 2011.

Were you able to maintain your teaching activity at the University that year? What was your daily life like?

The situation was not suitable to keep any activities running regularly. The daily life was very unsecure and risky, there were shortages of many basic necessities of life, we were without electricity sometimes for days and without internet connection for eight months.

Were you able to maintain links with your foreign colleagues that year? Were you able to travel to the partner countries? For what types of activities?

No, I was not able during the period of the conflict (February to November 2011) to maintain links with my foreign colleagues.

Since 2011, what has been the evolution of your relations with foreign archaeological institutions? In what form(s) were they maintained? Are you having difficulty travelling to Europe?

When I was the head of the Documentation and Digitalization of Cultural Heritage Centre at the Department of Antiquities (2012-2015), I started to build strong relationships with most of foreign archaeological missions and institutions that work in Libya. In 2013, I visited several times the French archaeological mission during its field work in Leptis Magna. Michel Bonifay and I managed to give a lecture about the Roman amphorae to the Libyan archaeologists working at Leptis Magna.

After 2011, it became hard to get a Schengen Visa. We have to provide many documents, make interviews, pay extensive fees and stay in Tunisia two weeks or more waiting for the result.

Concerning funding of Research and university teaching, how would you describe the Libyan situation? Have the amounts of Libyan funding allocated to archaeology been significantly impacted?

Again, after 2011, due to conflict and instability of the political and economic situations, there was virtually no financial support from the government related to research, not only in the field of archaeological research but in most areas of scientific research.

Can you count on international funding? If so, which ones and for which types of activities?

I have seen that a great impact of the international funding has related to the capacity building of Libyan archaeologists by training them in varying sectors, especially, in heritage documentation and protection.

Prospects for the future

If the Libyan territory remains inaccessible for the next few years, how do you envisage maintaining cooperation relations with the European and Maghreb countries?

I think that the cooperation process will continue the same as it has in recent years with the vast majority of collaborative activities between Libya and foreign institutions having to take place in Tunisia.

As a Libyan archaeologist, what long-term solutions can be considered to contribute to the continuation of archaeological field operations, to the maintaining of knowledge transfers and the preservation of your country’s heritage? What measures could help you in your day-to-day work?

If the current instability continues in Libya unchanged, it will be hard, for me, to suggest any measures for that.

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Référence papier

Muftah Alhddad, « Libye »Mélanges de la Casa de Velázquez, 50-2 | 2020, 355-357.

Référence électronique

Muftah Alhddad, « Libye »Mélanges de la Casa de Velázquez [En ligne], 50-2 | 2020, mis en ligne le 01 octobre 2020, consulté le 06 juillet 2022. URL : ; DOI :

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Muftah Alhddad

Faculty of Arts, az-Zaytuna University, Tarhuna / Department of Antiquities, Libya

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