The Reuse of the lost heritage: A missing partnership for reviving communities

The Reuse of the lost heritage: A missing partnership for reviving communities

Arwad, or "the shelter" in the Phoenician Language, is a historic island and port town just 5 km off the coast of Tartus City in Syria. It has incredible archaeological, and heritage remains dating back to the 2nd millennium. As a result, Arwad was added to Syria's tentative list for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

“Arwad, dwelled on the Mediterranean Sea, was endowed with natural defences and placed at the crossroads of ancient international Mediterranean trade. However, it is confronted with the paradox of too much and too little water.”

There is no denying that climate change has reached our shores. Its impacts are felt. Arwad, like any other small island, is susceptible to sea level rise.

FIG.2. Because Arwad is a highly dense island, sea level rise poses a serious threat to the island

“We don’t fear the angry sea nor the high waves.
We row the oars, forward, we are the Grandsons of the Phoenicians. “
This is what Arwadians say about the sea and its vigor.

The few remaining segments of the massive 10-meter outer city walls, except for the harbor, built by the Phoenicians will not help us in our never-ending battle against sea level rise.

“before we are drowned, we might die of thirst”.

Although Arwadians live on the water, they are reliant solely on the mainland for their water supplies. They are sailors, fishermen, and boat builders who fear water scarcity.

With the fact that there are no surface water resources on the island, access to drinking water in Arwad is a challenge.

The Sailors’ Dilemma: water surrounding us, yet, we might die of thirst.

The urge to take an immediate action to improve Arwadians’ ability to collect and store water and ensure the sustainable management of this essential natural resource over the long haul.

How can the island learn to live with water, work with water, not against it to protect themselves from thirst.

For Arwad, the only alternative is to harvest rainwater. Phoenicians harnessed the rainwater three millennia ago. Rainwater was collected and stored in rocky tanks and cisterns on the island.

Rainwater was collected and stored in rocky tanks and cisterns on the island.

The sparkling water springs known as "Al Fawarat" were discovered by Arwadians at a depth of 7- 10 m in the sea midway between Arwad and Tartus. They accessed the spring's water using the inverted funnel, the oldest method for extracting water from the sea. The spring supplied emergency water to anchored boats at the surface. Remnants of clay pipes used to supply the island with drinking water can
be found dispersed across the water between Arwad and Amrit. These water resources were depleted. Since 1993, Tartus and Arwad started drinking from Sin Spring. The problem with water distribution to houses appears to have been temporarily resolved.

The oldest method of extracting water from the sea. It was an inverted lead bell that was placed on top of the spring, linking it to a copper, leather, or earthenware tube that runs to the surface of the water or the island, where it empties into a special basin.

Securing water for the island’s future is everyone’s problem, from communicators to policy makers, to students and politicians, boatbuilders and fishermen.
Therefore, building a partnership with the local communities to boost access to clean water by strengthening community managed drinking water facilities is crucial to ensuring water security on the island. This partnership should be inclusive and inherit the water history of the island.

Water gives hope, so let us learn from the past, because the solutions are there and in the present combining them like yen and yang.

It is critical that we harness our history and bring forth the wisdom of the ages in order to save water for future generations. The past can aid in this regard by giving instructive instances and tried and true methods for handling peril and hazard. Understanding water and water systems requires centuries of experience. This is the future's answer, so to speak.

Protecting water resources and preserving cultural heritage can work together to make the world a better place.