|M.Sc Student||Michal Halevi-Bar|
|Subject||Outline for Reading the Cultural Significance of a Route|
The Pilgrims Route from Jaffa to Jerusalem as a
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisor||Professor Alon-Mozes Tal|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
Pilgrim routes offered travelers an unmediated physical contact and an intimate experience of the landscape. No longer used, many have fallen into disrepair. Time has eroded tangible and intangible features, threatening to erase their cultural significance altogether. The ICOMOS definition of cultural routes as physically distinct veins connecting localities with a unique historic dynamic poses a challenge in conserving heritage routes lacking their original physical integrity and authenticity. Underpinning this study is the assumption that routes’ cultural significance derives not only from intact tangible remnants but also from understanding the overall experience of the journey along these routes.
The key question, therefore, is how one extracts the overall cultural significance of a route from its various representations.
To provide a comprehensive reading, the study proposes a combined research method of analyzing remaining physical components, textual representations, and the actual travel experience.
The descriptions are highly valuable. They reflect tangible and intangible values, overt and veiled narratives, and the travel experience itself. Studying them allows identifying the physical and other marks representing these values and narratives, and marking the components most valuable for extracting and conserving the cultural significance.
The method discusses the interaction between the fields of significance, culture and landscape, and proposes a model for cross-referencing findings from three avenues of research to form a comprehensive reading of significance: historical-documentary mapping of the route’s physical field and its worthy marks; semantic-qualitative analysis of the representational field; and phenomenological-qualitative mapping of the actual experience and its representations. This method integrates the variety of significances, including those whose representations may be obscured.
As a case-study of a discontinuous route, the research studies the Jaffa-Jerusalem road, the once-busy pilgrims’ route now experienced as a drive on traffic routes 1 and 44. The modern-day highway generally corresponds with the ancient route but has altered beyond recognition its physical remains and extensive network of services, severing them from their historic context.
The historic-documentary study made present the route’s tangible marks that reveal its significance and evolvement as a cultural route.
The semantic-qualitative research approached texts written by travelers as first-hand testimonies of the travel experience. Interpretive-narrative reading of these identified key categories, recurrent words, descriptive terms, metaphors and narratives that serve selected myths. These facilitate comprehensive discussion of the overall various significances of the Jaffa-Jerusalem route.
The phenomenological-qualitative study of the texts explores the essence and qualities of the actual experience before, during and after various forms of travel on the route.
Piecing together the different representations, this method offers a renewed reading. The travelers’ experience embodied in their texts present the route as a phenomenon both tangible and intangible, and as a story and place set in the landscape-- essentially rendering it as being in the world.
The proposed method expands the concept of cultural significance currently prevalent in conservation, offering valuable tools for reading the cultural significance of historic routes, particularly those lacking physical integrity. It will also provide planning criteria for conserving the Jaffa-Jerusalem route and its return to the landscape.