Although natural hazards and decay constitute a significant risk to some ancient quarry landscapes and their associated infrastructure, such threats are of minor importance as compared to those involving bulldozers and dynamite: city and village expansion, industrial and agricultural development and the building of roads, power lines and canals. Also looting, vandalism and, in some few cases, tourist pressure are important threats. For all these risks, ancient quarry landscapes share destiny with other types of cultural heritage all over the world.
The risk posed by modern quarrying operations is more typical in ancient quarry areas than with regard to other heritage resources. Modern quarries are often located in ancient quarry landscapes with long traditions, in the QuarryScapes project region exemplified by the Aswan area in Egypt. Whereas large-scale industrial extraction may wipe out an ancient quarry in a minute, small artisan-type activities, although ultimately destroying archaeological evidence, often contribute to keeping traditional craft alive.
QuarryScapes addresses the threats to ancient quarry landscapes at two levels: 1) The man-made physical risks, as well as natural hazards and decay; 2) The legal aspects and local awareness. Three areas (Aswan, Northern Faiyum, Chephren's Quarry) in Egypt are selected for in-depth studies of risks, which starts by gaining a picture of the development of the landscapes over the last 40-50 years. This is done by gathering information from available maps and satellite images, as well as through fieldwork, old photos and descriptions.
The information is processed using GIS, and is supplemented by regular monitoring through field visits and satellite imagery. Data on actual development and development plans is gathered and interpreted in terms of impact on the quarry landscape. Information on the legal status of the areas, land ownership and awareness among residents and developers is gathered next. All this work is done in close cooperation with the authorities working as partners in QuarryScapes (SCA/EAIS) and, if possible, with local scientists, residents and developers.
A 2000 year-old quarry in the midst of the construction of "New Aswan City", Egypt. Photo by Per Storemyr.