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The University of Alicante presents the Master Plan for Elche's L'Alcúdia archaeological site

Manuel Palomar claims that the Plan is needed, as L’Alcúdia “meets the conditions and has the potential required to become a landmark in Valencian history and archaeology”

 

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Alicante. 18 February 2019

This morning, the University of Alicante presented the new Master Plan for Elche's L'Alcúdia. Launched at an event at L’Alcúdia in Elche attended by university authorities, local authorities from the city of Elche and staff from the L’Alcúdia University Foundation’s research teams, as well as researchers from the UA and the University Institute for Archaeology and Heritage Research (INAPH), the Plan is a log book for a key archaeological site.

With “only 10% of its area excavated,” as stated by UA President Manuel Palomar in his presentation, the potential of this “leading archaeological site” is clear.

The Master Plan responds to the need for a strategic management framework for the L’Alcúdia site, in an effort to make it better known and increase its cultural impact, guaranteeing that the preservation of this asset of cultural interest is compatible with public visits and outreach actions. All in all, the objective is to plan, develop and conduct long-term assessments of research, conservation, management, dissemination and outreach programmes concerning the site.

UA Vice President for Research and Knowledge Transfer Amparo Navarro Faure welcomed those present and was in charge of giving the floor to participants during the event.

Sonia Gutiérrez Lloret, scientific director of the L’Alcúdia University Foundation for Archaeological Research, INAPH director and Archaeology professor at the UA, emphasised that "above all, L’Alcúdia is a forward-looking project,” adding that “a planning framework was needed for the future of this heritage of shared history."

Miguel Louis Cereceda, INAPH researcher and professor at the UA Department of Architectural Construction, laid out the content of the Master Plan, also pointing out that a first plan had already been drafted in the 2003-2006 period by professor Lorenzo Abad. That plan was developed little by little, taking account of economic limitations. Louis defined the Master Plan as “an initiative intended to protect heritage,” additionally stating that “its contents and form are not set out” in either laws or decrees; thus, they have drawn on the experience of previously drafted plans and the work carried out by the staff from the L’Alcúdia Foundation. The Master Plan presented this morning runs until 2029. The action programme will be implemented over three stages: first, 2018-2021; second, 2022-2025; and third, 2026-2029.

In his address Elche mayor Carlos González Serna said that today was “an important day for Elche’s cultural heritage” as “with the introduction of this Master Plan, the L’Alcúdia University Foundation puts in place a strategic management framework to promote the knowledge about and cultural impact of this valuable site.” The mayor congratulated the University Foundation and the UA, also thanking them for their “vital work for more than 20 years.” González Serna took the opportunity to “reaffirm Elche City Council’s strong commitment to the UA.” In the City Council’s view, all the strategic action lines and goals are extremely interesting, emphasising “the need to make the site available to society as the cultural and socio-economic asset” it represents for Elche.

About the Lady of Elche, which the city would like to have back, “the municipal government is working on a new temporary transfer, to take place sooner rather than later.”

González Serna stressed that his government is always willing to take part in all initiatives aimed at promoting this cultural asset and expressed his gratitude for the work carried out by the UA, professors Gutiérrez Lloret and Louis Cereceda, the Ramos family and researchers specialising in L’Alcúdia.

UA and L’Alcúdia University Foundation President Manuel Palomar closed the event. He explained that for years it had been clear to them that a strategic development line was needed at the site, which led to the creation of the plan. Palomar mentioned the establishment, in 1996, of the L’Alcúdia University Foundation for Research, in a joint initiative with Elche City Council, joined afterwards by the Valencia Region Government and Alicante Provincial Council. “This marked the beginning of a new stage aimed at recognising the relevance the site deserves,” he said.

Declared an asset of cultural interest in 1992, almost a hundred years after the Lady of Elche was found in 1897, “the site is much more than the cradle of a singular artwork,” he stated. As proof of this, he mentioned each of the spaces and centres created, such as the Museum, which opened in 2015, with three halls devoted respectively to the Iberian, Roman and Hispanic periods.

L’Alcúdia, according to Palomar, “meets the conditions and has the potential required to become a landmark in Valencian history and archaeology,” adding that the UA “intends to develop permanent excavations for research purposes, but also, above all, to get the students from the Faculty of Arts involved,” as part of their training.

The president noted that “in 2003 we already developed a first Master Plan created by Lorenzo Abad.” “That Master Plan worked,” as evidenced by the list of achievements over those years. The current Master Plan is important for everyone to know that “the strategy is clear: its preservation must be compatible with public visits to and outreach actions concerning this cultural asset, regardless of who is in charge; management and conservation programmes must be planned, developed and assessed in the long term.”

In reference to the four archaeological projects already under way, Palomar described them as “a set of projects we will keep promoting.”

He also mentioned the creation of the INAPH in September 2014, as a tool to realise the UA's potential in the field of archaeology.

In short, Palomar defined the Master Plan as “a UA initiative clearly committed to cultural heritage, research and knowledge.”

Moreover, he said, over the last three years they had worked in “very close cooperation with Elche City Council” and, addressing Elche's mayor, he remarked that “this is your university too.”

 

L'Alcúdia Master Plan: a log book for a key site

The L’Alcúdia archaeological site was declared an asset of cultural interest in 1992, almost a hundred years after the finding of the famous Lady in 1897. Although this fact gave it international relevance, the site is much more than the cradle of a singular artwork, as it is a place where the traces of the various societies that settled there are present. L’Alcúdia meets the conditions and has the potential required to become a landmark in Valencian history and archaeology.

The Master Plan responds to the need for a strategic management framework for the L’Alcúdia site, in an effort to make it better known and increase its cultural influence, guaranteeing that the preservation of this asset of cultural interest is compatible with public visits and outreach actions. All in all, the objective is to plan, develop and conduct long-term assessments of research, conservation, management, dissemination and outreach programmes concerning the site.

The book L'Alcúdia d'Elx. Plan director 2017-2029 is a log book describing the past, present and future of one of Spain’s most iconic archaeological sites: Elche's L'Alcúdia. Over two decades ago the University of Alicante was put in charge of this extraordinary heritage asset. To manage it, the UA created the L’Alcúdia University Foundation for Archaeological Research; other patrons are Elche City Council, Alicante Provincial Council and the Miguel Hernández University, and the Valencia Region Government is equally a partner. 

The Master Plan is intended as a useful tool to manage several sorts of data (architectural, archaeological and for dissemination purposes) affecting the everyday operation of the site. Handling this data requires synergies as well as a cross-cutting approach. Detailed planning, also with the consensus of everyone involved, is essential in this kind of joint work if one is to meet the objectives working to cyclical and reasonable deadlines.

The new Plan is based on collecting data about plans previously developed and implemented, setting a series of milestones that provide the basis for the targets to be reached in the site’s present and short- and medium-term future. Over these years, the UA's commitment, supported by the Valencia Region Government and Elche City Council, has led to the creation of two first-rate museum facilities where visitors can see the collection of fundamental exhibits from the Iberian, Roman and Late Antique periods housed at the Interpretation Centre, which opened in 2008, and the remodelled Monographic Museum (2014). Alicante Provincial Council equally assisted, from 2006 to 2008, in the museological display and enhancement of the wall that, behind the Interpretation Centre, leads to the heights of the site, where former excavations can be visited, as well as others sponsored by the City Council in 2011 through the Plan Confianza. The Foundation’s 20th anniversary marked the beginning of a new period, with enlarged and renovated museum facilities.

Launched by the UA, the Master Plan is a joint project run by the UA's INAPH. It was directed by professor Miguel Louis Cereceda, from the UA Department of Architectural Construction, and Sonia Gutiérrez Lloret, a professor at the Department of Archaeology and scientific director of L’Alcúdia and the INAPH. A large team of UA lecturers and researchers took part, alongside technicians from the L’Alcúdia University Foundation and coordinated by Yolanda Spairani and Mercedes Tendero. Members of the documentation team are Diego Peña, Alejandro Ramos, Ana Ronda, Ángela Ramos, Rafael Ramos, David Torregrosa, Luis Jaime Morales, María Ángeles García and Raúl Prado.

Also involved in the project, acting as consultants on a variety of aspects, were Lorenzo Abad, Archaeology professor and L’Alcúdia’s scientific director between 2003 and 2014, UA Comptroller and Foundation secretary Rafael Pla, members of the L’Alcúdia Scientific Council and directors of ongoing research projects: Francisco Javier Jover, Alberto Lorrio, Juan Mesa, Feliciana Sala, José Uroz and Jaime Molina.

 

UA Office of the Vice President for Research Knowledge and Transfer's funding programme

Comprehensive management of assets of cultural interest is necessarily based on three principles, namely research, management and dissemination, which converge and reinforce one another. For this reason, the UA Office of the Vice President for Research and Knowledge Transfer has been tasked since 2017 with supporting these efforts through a funding programme aimed at on-site research, comprising three projects: Domus, Heritage Virtualisation and Heroes and Ladies. All of them are still under way, aiming to delve into and channel greater knowledge of L’Alcúdia’s archaeological reality.

To enhance the site and promote dissemination and outreach, the Plan diagnoses and analyses, in structural terms, the ancient urban layout that has been unearthed and that is also deteriorated by the weather and the passage of time. Visits to the site require precise, decisive actions on this vital issue, which is why this is one of the main topics covered in the Plan. After analysis and data collection, the strategic management lines are set out according to need; the first actions to be implemented are the most urgent ones, and an action programme is established that comprises three chronologically sequential stages: from 2018 to 2021, from 2022 to 2025, and from 2026 to 2029.

As stated in the book’s synopsis, L’Alcúdia can and must become the paradigm of critical, inclusive, properly understood and properly explained history. Instead of being “the place where the Lady came from,” i.e. a space intended merely for permanent remembrance and recognition of its relevance, it should at last become a model archaeological complex – in which case the Lady might be borrowed for display there from time to time.

 

Goals of the Master Plan

In line with this philosophy, shared by the INAPH, the Master Plan is intended to protect, preserve and develop knowledge through the following goals:

  • Researching, preserving, managing and disseminating L’Alcúdia’s archaeological heritage.
  • Encouraging and planning high-quality archaeological and heritage research on site and about the site, taking its territorial context into account.
  • Promoting the L’Alcúdia university site as a space for research, training and dissemination of knowledge.
  • Consolidating L’Alcúdia’s position as a leading cultural landmark at international level.
  • Enhancing innovation and transfer concerning historical-archaeological and heritage knowledge.
  • Conducting a historical study focusing on how the site’s constructions have evolved.
  • Obtaining the detailed morphology of the architectural remnants by means of high precision devices.
  • Analysing the construction systems and materials employed.
  • Carrying out a diagnostic study of the state of conservation of the most relevant elements.
  • Anticipating needs for intervention in the elements studied, proposing stages of action and an estimated economic value.
  • Making the site available to society as a cultural asset and a factor for social development. 
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Manuel Palomar's statements

on the presentation of the L’Alcúdia

Master Plan

Manuel Palomar's statements

on the UA and Elche’s joint work

at L’Alcúdia

Elche mayor’s statements on L’Alcúdia

Sonia Gutiérrez’s statements

on the Master Plan

 

 

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