Massive excavation continues at Saifi

I was lucky enough to pass by the Saifi dig (above) today when the gate was briefly open. Notice the huge amount of blue crates above the tents in the close up shot below. These are used to store artifacts, so there must be many of them dug up at the site:

I have written about this excavation last March. But it seems a lot more tents have been installed since then and more blue crates are now visible. At the time, the project being built at the site was called Saifi Gardens, a luxurious glass and steel residential complex, as seen in this previous post.

But now it seems the project has been renamed Saifi Plaza–at least that is what the new walls say:

Of course as an average citizen– pedestrian or driver– all we can see on most days are these walls. So has the project been changed in any way? Will this effect the time given to the archeologists before the site is cleared to make way for the new buildings? Is there any chance the find will be so valuable that the project will be cancelled or put on hold?

It would be great if anyone living in the nearby buildings could send us some more shots of the dig, since the government’s department of antiquities aggressively bans anyone from taking photos close to the site as I have often found out the hard way.

For more on the state of archeology in Lebanon–and the tensions between developers, archeologists and bureaucrats, see a piece I wrote for the BBC about the removal and dismantling of ruins belonging to Beirut’s Roman Hippodrome last summer. In the second part of the piece, I outline some of the larger questions about transparency, accountability and governance in the sector, which remains one of the most secretive in Lebanon.