First Phase is Concluded: ROCHEMP2020: training for cultural heritage experts

As part of the ROCHEMP Project, from 17th of February to 26th of June 2020, the theoretical part of pilot course “ROCHEMP2020: training for cultural heritage experts” was organized by ROCHEMP Center. The course is composed of classroom lectures, individual study and practical activities for 21 participants coming from different professional areas and institutions in the field of Cultural Heritage Management, Conservation and Enhancement from Armenia, Belgium and Georgia.
The course is in English and certificate of participation will be delivered to the participants upon the successful completion.


Launched in an auditorium at the National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia this February, due to COVID-19 lockdown it was continued remotely via Microsoft Teams. Due to the professional skills of the University of Bologna Alma Mater Studiorum’s staff, the training course was carried out in the first-rate scientific environment and in the form of active discussions.

Professors and prominent scholars Alessia Zampini, Sara Fiorentino, Salvatore Napoli, Federico Fallavolita, Laura Vicci, Gaiane’ Casnati, Alessandro Ianucci, Simone Zambruno, Marco Pretelli, Anna Bonora have shared with the participants of the Course their knowledge and expertise on various topics related to the cultural heritage, such as the Evaluation of conservation projects, The implementation of technical drawings for decorative surfaces, Digital cultural heritage methods for tourism, Management and development plans for cultural heritage issues and case studies etc. The training course has united a very diverse and special team of professionals which made exchange of experience even more productive on a multidisciplinary level. We also hope that it will become a basis for new collaborations and projects.
And last but not least, a great acknowledgment is addressed to the scientific director of the ROCHEMP Project Dr. Prof. Mariangela Vandini and the Project Coordinator Dr. Tania Chinni for all their efforts and contribution to the development and implementation of this training course.

WEBINAR ON ERERUYK. A MAJOR ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE, HIGH PLACE OF CHRISTIAN ARMENIA

Wednesday May 27th
h. 19:00-21:00

Zoom (preliminary registration is required) https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdiZmN5sbUPJLdH_XPfMZWRto9JMyU0RIR4tqsxJFfrpB4IWw/viewform?usp=sf_link

On 21st of May, 2020 the Government of the Republic of Armenia approved the support for the research and preservation of Ererouyk basilica (6th c.) and for the creation of a little museum in Anipemza, to be provided through the Service for the Protection of Historical Environment and Cultural Museum-Reservations. On this occasion, the Regional Center for Cultural Heritage Enhancement, Management and Protection – ROCHEMP – hosts a webinar on 27th of May at 19:00 Yerevan time, about the history of Ereruyk basilica and archaeological site. The webinar will be led by Dr. Patrick Donabédian, Associate Professor of Armenian Studies at the Université d’Aix-Marseille (Aix-en-Provence, France), who from 2009 to 2016 was the Director of the multidisciplinary archaeological investigation of Ererouyk basilica and archaeological site conducted by the Laboratoire d’Archéologie Médiévale et Moderne en Méditerranée (LA3M – AMU – CNRS) .

The webinar will be held in English in the ambit of the training course “ROCHEMP2020: training for cultural heritage experts” organized by ROCHEMP Center in the ambit of an international cooperation project co-financed by the Italian Agency for Cooperation Development (AICS), the Alma mater Studiorum of Bologna University and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Armenia.

Free access upon registration. The link to Zoom will be sent to the all registered participants.

ERERUYK, A MAJOR ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE, HIGH PLACE OF CHRISTIAN ARMENIA

Patrick Donabédian

LA3M, UMR 7298, AMU/CNRS, Aix-en-Provence


The early Christian and medieval site of Ereruyk is located at the northwestern extremity of the current Republic of Armenia, on its border with present-day Turkey, a few kilometers from the remains of the medieval capital Ani. From 2009 to 2016 a French-Armenian archaeological team led by the LA3M laboratory of Aix-Marseille University (France) has submitted this site to detailed, multidisciplinary investigations.
The site contains the vestiges of several constructions among which the most impressive are the ruins of an undated, but obviously early Christian basilica, with unusual features. Its study led to revisit Armenian-Syriac relations in the early Christian period and to deepen our knowledge of “memorial” sanctuaries. The survey also concerned the dating of the basilica, its architecture, carved decor, its place in early Christian Armenia, as well as the hypothesis of a pre-Christian stratum. Most of the other components of the Ereruyk ensemble raise difficult questions relating both to their function and their dating. The site poses also more general questions concerning the nature of the complex and the reasons for its location, in a place nowadays particularly deprived, as well as several enigmas that appeared during the investigations. The multidisciplinary team set up by the LA3M of Aix-en-Provence and the Regional Museum of Shirak (the province where the site is located) strived to provide answers at least to some of these questions.
After the discovery, near the church, of a cemetery and a memorial area, the mission began to clear a field that until then was very marginal and even taboo in medieval Armenian archeology, that of funerary archeology. The detailed archaeological and anthropological study of more than seventy graves, and 29 dates obtained thanks to radiocarbon analysis of human bones, gave a first picture of the long evolution of a Christian cemetery in Armenia, from late Antiquity to almost today. A geomorphological analysis of a seasonal stream bordering the site was also conducted to try to better understand the place of this “wadi” in the past life of the complex. This was done in parallel with the study of ruined architectural structures located within its bed. All this allowed to reconsider the relations that Ereruyk necessarily had, around the year 1000, with the neighboring town of Ani.
The lecture will review the results achieved by the mission, the questions raised by its investigations, some answers that have been found, as well as the enigmas that still remain to be elucidated.

Patrick Donabédian
Born in Tunis (Tunisia) in 1953, Patrick Donabédian received his first training in Slavic languages, especially Russian, and in art history at the University of Provence (1970-74). Then he studied Armenian language, art history and architecture at the University of Yerevan, Armenia (1975-80). He obtained two doctorates in art history, one at the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg (1981), the other at Paris-X-Nanterre University (1986). In 2004, he had an accreditation to direct research (HDR) in Armenology / art history at the University of Montpellier III. For more than forty years he studied with passion and professionalism the medieval art of Armenia and Georgia with a particular focus on architecture and decoration. In parallel to his scientific work, from 1992 to 2006, he served French diplomacy as a cultural advisor in Eastern Europe, notably in Armenia (1992-1996), before returning to the university sphere in 2006. Since that date, he has been in charge of the Armenian Studies Section at the University of Aix-Marseille (AMU), and a researcher at the Laboratory of Medieval and Modern Archeology in the Mediterranean (LA3M, AMU / CNRS). From 2009 to 2016, he led the Franco-Armenian archaeological mission of LA3M in Ererouyk (Armenia). P. Donabédian is the author or co-author of ten books, including Les arts arméniens (with J.-M. Thierry), Paris, 1987 (Prix 1988 de l’Académie française) and L’Age d’or de l’architecture Arménienne. 7th century, Marseille, 2008 (2008 Prize from the Institut de France – Academy of Fine Arts). He has published over two hundred scientific articles in specialized journals and collections. He is author of the book EREROUYK – UN SITE ARCHÉOLOGIQUE MAJEUR, HAUT LIEU DE L’ARMÉNIE CHRÉTIENNE (in French and Armenian language) that will be soon available in Yerevan (ed. Sarguis Khatchents, PRINTINFO).

Some additional information
In 2016, the archaeological site of ERERUYK and the near village of ANIPEMZA have been inserted in the prestigious list of the 7 MOST ENDANGERED sites of Europe thanks to the nomination submitted by the Centro Studi e Documentazione della Cultura Armena (CSDCA), an association that since 1970 is supporting local experts and stakeholders in the implementation of different actions aimed to the safeguard and enhancement of Armenian cultural heritage. In May 21st 2020 the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Armenia deliberated to support the preservation of the basilica and the of little mausoleum of Ererouyk and the creation of a little museum in the House of Culture of the village of Anipemza.

The 7 Most Endangered programme identifies the most significant and threatened monuments, sites and landscapes in Europe and mobilises public and private partners at all levels to find a viable future for these heritage gems. It was launched in 2013 by Europa Nostra with the European Investment Bank Institute as founding partner and the Council of Europe Development Bank as associated partner. It has received the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union since 2014, as part of Europa Nostra’s network project ‘Mainstreaming Heritage’. See: http://www.europanostra.org/europe-7-most-endangered-heritage-sites-2016-announced/

©The photos of Ereruyk are by the photographer Tigran Hayrapetyan

Culture as a developmental driver for Italy in the post-Covid scenario

15 May 2020 / 15.00-18.30 CEST / Remote participation

Cultural and creative sectors are among the most affected by the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis

Immediate measures are needed to support the cultural institutions, people and firms that will enable the culture sector to weather the crisis and thrive. At the same time, the crisis provides an opportunity to rethink and reposition the role of culture as a competitiveness driver for countries, cities and regions.

Italy, whose national image is greatly associated with culture, could seize the opportunity by launching a new cycle of strategic design. Such a process needs to involve public administration, industry, cultural players and professionals, and civil society.

The purpose of this webinar, organised by the OECD Venice Office for Culture and Local Development and Cultura Italiae, is to contribute to this process by convening some of the most authoritative and experienced representatives from cultural and creative sectors and policy makers to debate the role of culture in Italy’s competitiveness model and the ways to foster culture-led local development in the recovery and beyond.

Join the discussion

To participate, please register via this online form by Wednesday, 13 May 2020.

Registered participants will receive the link to connect one day prior to the event.

The webinar will start at 15.00 Paris time, please check the time difference with your place.

Working language: English.

Cultural genocide or cultural cleansing

 Cultural genocide or cultural cleansing is a concept that lawyer Raphael Lemkin distinguished in 1944 as a component of genocide. The Armenian Genocide Museum defines cultural genocide as “acts and measures undertaken to destroy nations’ or ethnic groups’ culture through spiritual, national, and cultural destruction.

The concept of cultural genocide was not included in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

In 1912-1913 the Armenian Patriarchy of Istanbul presented an account of the churches and monasteries in Western Armenia (Eastern Anatolia) and in the Ottoman Empire. More than 2300 were accounted for including the early unique Christian monuments of IV-V centuries. But most of them were looted, burned and destroyed during the genocide.

In 1974 UNESCO stated that after 1923, out of 913 Armenian historical monuments left in Eastern Turkey, 464 have vanished completely, 252 are in ruins, and 197 are in need of complete repair.

Armenian architectural buildings are consistently being demolished with dynamite explosions and used as targets during Turkish military training exercises; the undamaged stones are also used as construction materials. In some rural places, Armenian monasteries and churches serve as stables, stores, clubs and in once case, even a jail. On many occasions the Turkish government converted Armenian churches into mosques.

On June 18, 1987 the Council of Europe adopted a Decree demanding from the Turkish government to pay attention to and take care of the Armenian language, culture and educational system of the Armenian Diaspora living in Turkey, also demanding an appropriate regard to the Armenian historical monuments that are in modern Turkey’s territory.

Source official web site of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of RA

Horomos Monastery, 10th-11th centuries

The view of the Horomos Monastery before 1965
The view of the Horomos Monastery 1998 (photo S. Karapetian)

Sourb Prkich (Holy Saviour) Church of Ani, 11th century

The view of the monument in 1910s
The view of the monument in 2000 (photo S. Karapetian)

The precious link between all Armenians

France Armenia Magazine, the precious link between all Armenians, is the result of the hard work of a small team of permanent staff, managers and many volunteer editors convinced by the task they have been carrying out for many years, to maintain the Armenian identity in the diaspora and in particular in France. The France Arménie Magazine is a monthly. Since September 2019, France Armenia is also available in digital format on smartphones, tablets or computers via an application.

The magazine has about 10,000 subscribers worldwide.

A correspondent of France Arménie Magazine Nairi Khchadourian visited the ROCHEMP center in the early February of 2020. She was inspired by the aim and activities of the ROCHEMP Center and offered an interview to the director of the Center Ani Avagyan, which was published in the April 2020 edition. We are happy for this opportunity of sharing the initiatives of the ROCHEMP Center with the Armenia diaspora, as in France so in other countries with this well recognized platform. Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to further cooperation.

Video-conference (informal meeting) among EU Ministers of culture on 8 April 

Video-conference organised on the initiative of theCroatian Presidency of the EU and chaired by Nina Obuljen.All 27 EU Member States participated.

European Commission Representatives who joined the meeting were: Věra Jourová (European Commission Vice President for Values and Transparency),  Mariya Gabriel ( European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth) and Thierry Breton(European Commissioner for the Internal Market). 

Ministers and representatives of the European Commision exchanged views on the immediate/ initial measures implemented to mitigate impacts of the crisis and measures that should be taken at the European level.

The Press Conference that followed the video-conference is accessible here, in case you are interested. Here you can read a short press release. 

The key points discussed were:

All EU Member States have undertaken necessary steps to help artists, cultural workers, cultural institutions and companies in the crisis.

Most Member States agreed that cultural and creative sectors are among the first (if not THE first) to be severely hit by the crisis and lockdown of public spaces.

Member States expressed their concerns as of how quickly some parts of the cultural sector will be able to recover once the immediate crisis is over.

The digital consumption of cultural content on various online platforms during the isolation was also addressed and praised.

Member States presented national measures, which are different and context-specific, but can be grouped as follows:

  • Majority of Member States have implemented social measures to protect the most vulnerable workers: freelancers, independent, small enterprises.
  • Operational measures:Extended deadlines and changed criteria of deadlines of national calls to adapt to the situation.
  • Financial measures: a number of countries made available funds for cultural and creative sectors 

The Media and the importance of the professional work of journalists to prevent fake news and disinformation was also addressed. 

Commissioner Mariya Gabriel presented activities already launched by European Commission, both horizontal and sectorial. 

3 horizontal measures that can and should be used for the cultural sector:

  • Coronavirus response investment initiative (37 billion Euro from Structural Funds to alleviate the effects of the pandemic) 
  • New instrument for temporary support to mitigate unemployment risk in emergencies (100 billion Euro)
  • Temporary framework for state aid (culture is specifically listed as one of the sectors that are most severely hit).

Sector-specific actions (under the Creative Europe framework programme of the EU):

  • Maximum flexibility for ongoing and planned actions (including extension of Deadline for application to some calls published under the programme)
  • Special measures to support cinema ( 5 million Euro as part of a supplementary fund)
  • Redirecting the work of the cross-border dimension of performing arts towards virtual mobility and digital culture. In May, a Fund of 2 million Euro for this purpose will be announced.
  • Commissioner Gabriel also proposed to launch 2 platforms: one for Member States to share good practices and another one for the sector itself (to exchange and find solutions to the challenges posed by the crisis)

People are turning to culture in these difficult times. Commissioner Gabriel addressed culture as ‘The Treasure of Europe’. 

In general, Ministries appreciated the measures already taken by the European Commission as well as the ‘quick response’ to address the current crisis. 

Next steps: 

EU Ministers in charge of Culture will continue to be in close contact and cooperation in the coming weeks, as to prepare a Ministerial meeting on this topic in May 2020. In this Ministerial meeting, EU Ministers in charge of Culture should make a solid assessment of the crisis, propose Joint action for the post-crisis period as well as options for recovery of the cultural and creative sectors.

Quality principles: from the first drawings to the bulding site

On December 17th, at ROCHEMP office, it has been organized the first public event in the frame of Action C. It consisted in a round table on QUALITY PRINCIPLES: FROM THE FIRST DRAWINGS TO THE BUILDING SITE to which took part all the stakeholders of the Cultural heritage preservation process.  The aim of the meeting was twofold: 1- to present ROCHEMP centre to the Armenian experts working in the field of monuments preservation and 2- to start a discussion/collaboration with them with a focus on the quality principles for the process of monuments preservation and on the price list for preservation works.
The meeting started with a warm welcome speech by the representative of the Embassy of Italy in Armenia, prof. Anna Maria Seca and with a clear presentation of ROCHEMP center structure, main missions and goals by the ROCHEMP director, Ani Avagyan. Then Gaianè Casnati (CSDCA, Europa Nostra, ROCHEMP) introduced the topics for discussion by mentioning the outcomes of the international debate on quality interventions in the field of Cultural Heritage and the difficulties to which the Armenian experts are confronted. The debate was very heated and got much wider than the two proposed topics, touching also the problem of licensing preservation project designers and implementers (constructors and restorers), improving tendering processes, making available materials and technologies, overcoming the obstacles to intergenerational exchange, increasing the offer for technical education (VET) and creating more possibilities for projects implementation and, last but not least, the need of improving and updating the regulation of the sector with an increased consistency between urban and architectural planning.
Mrs. Nune Petrosyan (Deputy director of the Urban Development Committee), Stepan Nalbandyan (Armenian Association of Historical Monument Restoration Architects), Sarhat Petrosyan (Urban Lab), Grigor Nalbandyan (Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, NUACA), Nanar Kalantaryan (Scientific-Research Center of Historical and Cultural Heritage of Armenia), Garegin Knyazyan (head of the Monuments Preservation Department of the Agency for Historical and Cultural Monuments Preservation and Fruition), Ara Vardanyan(Chief architect at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin), Gagik Gyurjyan (head of ICOMOS Armenia), Marina Buniatyan (NUACA), Ara Avetisyan (architect restorer) actively participated to the discussion. It was clear that all the experts of the field share the opinion that the situation of Cultural Heritage Preservation in Armenia is very problematic. They also share the feeling that in Armenia some reforms are need in the sector, they are urgent and apply to different fields like education, intergenerational exchange, laws and regulations, identification of quality standards for design and implementation of the interventions on CH, pricing, safety, etc.
The two objectives set in ROCHEMP Action C have been considered as having crucial importance. All the experts agreed to work together, through further well focused professional discussions, eventually with the coordination of ROCHEMP, to come up with common, concerted proposals to implement systematic reforms. It was agreed that, with the collaboration of local Government and Institutions, ROCHEMP can have a role in bridging at least some of the gaps and boosting the processes of development by setting a platform for discussion and by promoting and coordinating international support (technical and financial).

Gaiane Casnati

Promotion of Armenian Cultural Heritage Knowledge in Europe and the Role of ROCHEMP Project

The first public conference was organized on 17th December of 2019, by Armenian Centre ROCHEMP in the spectacular Frescoes Room of the National Gallery of Armenia. The invited participant thirty people of representative people, teachers, students and some of Armenian principal Institutions in relation with culture and education. The aim of the conference was to explain the purposes and necessities of ROCHEMP Centre and opening a dialogue about the experiences and the ideas, in order to create the international networks among the specialists who are interested in cooperation in Enhancement of Armenian Cultural Heritage.
After greetings and the presentation of the Center about the director, Ani Avakyan, the others made their speeches: Gaianè Casnati (CSCDA – ROCHEMP Centre), Anna Sirinian (University of Bologna, Department of History and Cultures – ROCHEMP Centre), Levon Chookaszian (History and Theory of Armenian Art – Yerevan State University), Erna Manea Shirinyan (Matenadaran – Department of Theology, Yerevan State University), Aram Isabekyan (Dean of Academy of Fine Arts of Yerevan), Sona Baloyan (Matenadaran – International Relations), Khachik Harutyunyan (Senior Researcher, Matenadaran) and Anoush Sargsyan (PhD Student, Matenadaran). The creation of the center received a lot of compliments from the audiences and during the conference, everyone proposed suggestions about diffusion of knowledge of Armenian Cultural Heritage in Europe involving the ROCHEMP Centre. Lenov Chookaszian proposed the participation of the Center in the organization of VII International Symposium of Armenian Art in Armenia on October 2020. The Dr. Khachik Harutyunyan proposed to submit a dossier to obtaining European Heritage Label at Matenadaran for the studying centers of production of Armenian manuscript in Europe, through ROCHEMP. The PhD student of ROCHEMP Center Anush Sargsyan, proposed a collaboration with Europeana project and Google to increase the digitalization of Armenian manuscript. During the discussion, most of the people said that it is important to promote exchanges between teachers, researchers and students of Armenian and European Institutions because of their  experiences, projects and collaborations, like Erasmus programs realized with University of Bologna in the last few years.     

Anna Sirinian