”Dobrogea, Witness of the Millennial Civilizations of the Levant”

ȘCOALA ANUALĂ DE STUDII BIZANTINE REPREZENTĂRI ALE BIZANȚULUI ÎN ISTORIE, LITERATURĂ ȘI ARTĂ
Official launch of the ”Dobrogea, Witness of the Millennial Civilizations of the Levant”










”Ovidius” University, Senate Hall, Constanța
June 22nd, 2018

Official launch of the

”Dobrogea, Witness of the Millennial Civilizations of the Levant”

Dobrogea, the host of many cultures and civilizations, an area in which 16 ethnic minorities live in harmony, at the same time as they maintain their specific features as well as cultural and religious beliefs, is the model proposed by the Institute of Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization as a possible solution to the inter-ethnic and inter-confessional conflicts undergoing in the respective area.

Goals

  • The study of natural and cultural heritage in Dobrogea for the protection and preservation of natural and cultural sites;
  • Scientific research on the history, culture and traditions of numerous ethnic groups in Dobrogea;
  • Identification of the regions with potential for sustainable development according to the UNESCO criteria for creating geoparks;

All these goals aim to achieve a comprehensive knowledge of the long and harmonious cohabitation of some ethnicities, many of them having their roots in the Levant.

Research methods and strategies

The utilized methods and strategies are specific to the research fields: nature, culture, ethnicities. The interdisciplinarity character of the research is highly promoted. The project is based on the holistic approach of the natural heritage (with its two sections: biotic – biodiversity and abiotic – geodiversity) and of the cultural heritage (either tangible or intangible – traditions). This is an integrative and modern strategy aiming to contribute to the economic and social development of regions.

Duration of the project

It is a triannual project (2019-2021), structured on three annual stages, corresponding to the three geological and geographical regions of Dobrogea: South, Central and North.

The preliminary work (1st of June - 20th of December 2018) consists in signing partnership agreements, establishing thematic teams, and preparing a detailed plan of activities. In this period some exploratory visits shall be conducted to plan specific activities for each team of the project.

The partnership framework of the project

Three teams of researchers collaborate in this project, having the following specific goals:

  • History-archaeology: research of some relevant sites, dating from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine period, unknown or insufficiently investigated until now;
  • Dobrogea’s ethnicities and their cultures: history, traditions, integration in the social context of the region;
  • Dobrogea’s natural and cultural heritage: evaluating the state of preservation and assuring the visibility of the natural and cultural sites; documentation for the creation of a new UNESCO Geopark.

Capitalization of partial and final research results

The research results will be published in the International Journal of the Levant Studies, the biannual journal of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization. They will be also disseminated during national and international reunions (conferences, symposia).

At the end of the project, a monograph will be published about the natural and cultural heritage of Dobrogea, structured in three volumes focused on the three regions of Dobrogea (South, Central and North), with a highlight on its ethnicities’ history and culture.

Emil Constantinescu, Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization:

“Levant. Dialogue and identity preservation”

”Every time I was invited at the UN, at UNESCO, and in the parliaments of the countries in which I presented ”The Levant Initiative for Global Peace”, I stated that the goal of cultural diplomacy is neither the resolution of open conflicts, nor of frozen ones, but rather the culture of peace.

The culture of peace cannot be achieved unless we recover the culture of democracy. It cannot occur unless we rediscover the fact that dialogue can only be achieved through the preservation of identities. Dialogue cannot exist in the absence of one’s identity. The West failed in that regard.

These principles are the foundation of our endeavor”.

Professor Sorin Rugină, PhD, Rector of the “Ovidius” University of Constanța:

Dobrogea’s culture and civilization

“Dobrogea is an inexhaustible spring of culture and civilization, one we must know of and support. I strongly consider that this project can generate a spirit of emulation, in order to develop the environment from all points of view: economic development, but also environmental  and historical preservation.”

Professor Dan Grigorescu, PhD, Scientific Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization

Dobrogea, a representative model for the Levant

“The main goal of the project is the focus on the natural and cultural heritage of Dobrogea, and the manner in which natural and cultural values can support regional development. Such an approach of areas of extreme scientific and educational importance led to the constitution, within a NATO program, of a new type of protected area: the geopark. Over 150 geoparks have been established throughout the world in this program. The project shall have a holistic approach of natural heritage, with its two, strongly interdependent components: the abiotic component (geo-diversity) and the biotic one (bio-diversity). It is the manner in which nature is better understood that counts, together with the dangers affecting it, a manner requiring thus protection. An additional aspect within the project is the fact that cultural heritage shall comprise not only historical, archaeological, and architectural sites, as well as regional traditions and folklore, the latter representing the so-called intangible aspect of heritage. Patrimonial values of nature and culture generated all over the world legends and mythologies, and they abound in Dobrogea; the aim of the project is to research also this side of heritage.

Research focused on various ethnicities of Dobrogea, as well as their history and culture, represents another goal of the project, which is intended to be finalized through the elaboration of a monograph on natural and cultural Dobrogea”.

Professor Dan Grigorescu, PhD, Scientific Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization

The project of a UNESCO geopark in Dobrogea

”The geopark is a model embraced by the natural and cultural heritage which proved efficient in regional development. The concept was launched by UNESCO in 1997, as a result of a European movement for the protection and preservation of the inanimate part of nature, which is geo-diversity, undoubtedly less taken into consideration than the animated one, which is bio-diversity. Within a geopark, the two components go hand in hand, both as far as education for nature is concerned, as well as its protection and inclusion in touristic routes, together with places of historical and cultural reference.

In 2004, the Dinosaur Geopark Țara Hațegului (Hațeg County) was created, the first geopark of the former Communist part of Europe, acknowledged by UNESCO in 2005. The geopark was created based on the exceptional scientific values existing at the time, as far as paleontology and geology especially are concerned. The area of Țara Hațegului (Hațeg County) is known worldwide for its dwarf dinosaur fauna dating back to the end of the dinosaur era, around 65 million years ago, but also for the largest flying animal, contemporary with dwarf dinosaurs – the huge pterosaurs Hatzegopteryx. Moreover, the area comprises places of extreme cultural and historical importance, such as the artifacts of the Roman castrum of Sarmizegetusa – Ulpia Traiana, and the Densuș Church, representative of Transylvanian medieval architecture. Emulating the path already created in Țara Hațegului ( Hațeg County) , it is our intention to create a similar geopark in Dobrogea, within the project established in partnership with ”Ovidius” University.

Official launch of the ”Dobrogea, Witness of the Millennial Civilizations of the Levant”

Exhibition at the National Geology Museum

Bucharest, July 11th, 2018

“From craftsmanship to art. Stone processing”

The National Geology Museum, in partnership with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, the National History and Archaeology Museum of Constanța and the Geological Institute of Romania, hosts the exhibition entitled “From craftsmanship to art. Stone processing”. On the occasion of its opening, Ștefan Marincea, manager of the Geological Institute of Romania, Sorin Colesniuc, manager of the National History and Archaeology Museum of Constanța and Professor Dan Grigorescu, scientific director of the IASLCC, described the exhibition as the result of a combination between the esthetic and the scientific, as well as that between the experience of archeologists and that of geologists, highlighting all levels of stone processing, from constructions to art.

The visitor who manages to extract himself from the hustle and bustle of Victoria Road and enters the silent world of stones present in this small exhibition, shall discover, among the 114 exhibits covering approximately 6000 years of history, the world of the ancient man, with all its aspirations and anxieties, so far away from the present world. Each of the stone exhibits, be it a tool, a statue, an arrow head, catapult shell or cult or decoration elements, bears within its layers of stone a life story, that could have been our own. The story of silent stones unveils a relatively simple existence, in which people live in agreement with nature, an existence marked by the uncertainty of wars, agricultural practices, trade and crafts, but in which art, cult and religion play a great role. The most precious and rare exhibit reminds one that time is the most important gift that man ever received. It is a time measuring instrument, a solar dial placed between a bull’s horns, dating back to the IInd century, discovered in Cumpăna. Next to him stands, finely sculpted in marble, the sleeping head of Thanatos, the young god of death.

All the exhibits come from the History and Archaeology Museum of Constanța. The exhibition can be visited until September 22nd, 2018.

Professor Dan Grigorescu, PhD,

Scientific Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization

“The Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, one of the supporters of this exhibition has as its main goal the performance of scientific research on the cultures and civilizations of the ancient area of the Levant, referring here to the Middle East, Northern Africa, the Balkans and the Caucasus, places where religion, mathematics, medicine and other sciences originate from, but also an area of extreme reflection of art, especially sculpture. The aim of this research is to highlight the cultural values of this space of origin, in direct connection with the present and to underline the importance of these values for a world of good understanding and cooperation.

Among the Institute’s goals, one can find a new approach of heritage, which integrates the natural, biological and geological component, with the cultural, historical and artistical one.

The present exhibition is a very good illustration of the twinning between the natural and the cultural. The stone in which the exhibits have been crafted is the very essence of the geological nature, while the sculptures are the eloquent essence of art created by talented craftsmen.

Stone and sculpture are representations of body and soul, a union between the material and the spiritual, the latter rejoicing art throughout stone.

Such events having a deep cultural message and showing openness towards nature at the same time, are highly welcomed in the cloudy (from both a climate and spiritual point of view) landscape of these days.

The fact that this cultural event is hosted by the main geological museum of the country, in which stone has inscribed within its layers the history life, is a joyful occasion for me, as a servant of geology and an art lover”.

Official launch of the ”Dobrogea, Witness of the Millennial Civilizations of the Levant”

“Dobrogea, witness to the millennial civilizations of the Levant”

A strong debut…

It has been a summer full of interesting activities for this project that attempts a modern take on the values of Dobrogean heritage, and which analyses the way in which heritage sites can beneficially be used to support the inhabitants of the regions they are located in. One of the major objectives of this project is the identification of those regions of Dobrogea in which the UNESCO model for regional development, the geopark, would have the greatest chances for a successful implementation. For nearly three weeks, during July and August, the small yet enthusiastic team of professors, researchers and students from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, the “Ovidius” University in Constanța and the National Institute of Geology travelled down routes designed in such a way as to combine natural, geological and biological reservations, “Natura 2000” sites and historical monuments, that taken together best define the cultural values of a region.

Our travels started from the south, from Limanu and Hagieni, and continued in successive stages, towards the Casimcea plateau and the canals of the Danube situated in the central part of Dobrogea, then on to the hinterlands of the Măcin mountain range, to Babadag and Tulcea, in the north of the region. Among other sites, the team visited natural reservations of multifarious interest – geological, natural and biodiverse, with flora and fauna specific to the Dobrogean region – at Canaraua Fetei, Alah Bair, Dealul Consul and Cape Doloṣman-Jurilovca; the botanical and zoological reservations around Lakes Oltina, Vederoasa and Murighiol, abounding in species of fowl; the ancient woodland forests of Hagieni, Esechioi, Dumbrăveni, Codru-Babadag and Niculițel; the geological and botanical reservations at Topalu, Cheia and Gura Dobrogei; the caves at Limanu and La Adam; the palaeontological reservations at Alimanu, Credința, Dealul Bujoare, Cerna and Agighiol, as well as the stone quarries at Greci, Iacobdeal, Caugagia and Slava Rusă.

We lingered a while at the information centre of the Măcin Mountains National Park, where we admired the dioramas of the habitats endemic to the mountain range, the exhibition of traditional tools and craftsmanship traditions and the display containing the traditional dress of the various ethnicities of the region. We also covered several footpaths that cross the Park, between Iacobdeal Lake and Priopcea Hill. Our travels allowed us to document some of the plethora of historical sites that dot the landscape of Dobrogea, that region of Romania which over the past five thousand years has best preserved its monuments which date from the Neolithic to the Hellenistic, Roman, Roman-Byzantine, Byzantine-Mediaeval periods and beyond. We stopped near the ruins of the Dacian fortress at Albeṣti, at Ostrov near the ruins of the Roman city of Durostorum, at Dervent monastery, near the Byzantine citadel at Păcuiul lui Soare, at the Tropaeum Traiani monument at Adamclisi; on later occasions, we visited a number of sites that are better known to the public, such as Carsium – Hârşova, Capidava and Histria. In the north of Dobrogea, not a day passed that we would not visit the ruins of a citadel: Dinogeția at Garvăn, Enisala (Yeni–Sale), Argamum, Doloşman etc. Sometimes, as was the case at Halmyris, Murighiol, Ibida, Slava Rusă and Noviodunum (Isaccea), we had the opportunity to meet the archaeologists working on the site, who provided us with helpful guidance and context. The Paleo-Christian monument at Niculițel, containing the crypt of the four martyrs, the monastery at Cocoşu, the mausoleum of Sari Saltuk at Babadag and the independence monument in Tulcea were other historical sites located along our travel routes.

Of particular interest during our visits was the continuous exchange of information between the members of the team: the biologists, versed in the different species of vegetation, insects, reptiles and birds we came across; the geologists, who were able to explain to the others the tectonic structures and formation of the rocks and the fossils contained therein, and all of them were deeply committed to highlighting the connections between the complementary living and unliving (geological) sides of the natural environment. This is, in fact, the one approach through which nature can truly be understood in its integrity, and thus be better protected.

Not all the observations made in our travels were pleasant, however, and some were downright disheartening: the mounds of garbage strewn haphazardly across the land, the lack, or in the best case the scarcity of available scientific information within already protected areas and, especially, the abundance of allergy-inducing ambrosia.

Wherever we passed through, we paid special attention to the particularities of the different ethnicities that co-inhabit the Dobrogean space, as made manifest through the architecture of their homes and the specificities of their customs, from what little we could observe in our brief passing. Ethnicity is an important aspect of the project we are undertaking, and, at Cobadin – well-known for its Turkish-Tatar importance – we lingered a little longer, in order to speak with the mayor of the township and inquire about a potential future meeting with the representatives of this community.

Now that autumn has come, it is time to iron out our observations, crystallize our ideas and prepare the following steps for the project. The first will take place on the 29th of November, with the public presentation of the project at the Museum of Geology in Bucharest, comprising a joint exhibition of our findings and a communications session…  Details will be forthcoming shortly!

Official launch of the ”Dobrogea, Witness of the Millennial Civilizations of the Levant”


Conference of the launch of the
“Dobrogea – Witness to the Millennial Civilizations of the Levant” Multi-Annual Project



Inauguration of the
“Stone Quarries, Citadels and Archaeological Monuments of Dobrogea” exhibition

National Museum of Geology, Bucharest, November 29th 2018

The Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, in partnership with the “Ovidius” University in Constanța and the Romanian Geological Institute, organized a conference for the official launch of the „Dobrogea – Witness to the Millennial Civilizations of the Levant” multi-annual project at the National Museum of Geology in Bucharest. The same occasion celebrated the inauguration of an exhibition titled “Stone Quarries, Citadels and Archaeological Monuments of Dobrogea.”

Held five months after the initial presentation of the project in Constanța, in June of 2018, the conference presented the preliminary results of the summer campaign and the projections for the continuation of the project over the following years. The event also featured a short film presenting the field research undertaken by a team comprised of university professors, researchers and students that worked on the project during three weeks in August across the breadth of Dobrogea, from the south to the north.

Over the two sections of the conference – “Ethnography, History, Archaeology” and “The Conservation of the Natural Environment” a number of studies were presented that will be expanded upon as part of the multi-annual project, across a variety of research fields focusing on the historical province of Dobrogea: the history of the landscape, of its inhabiting ethnic and religious communities and the associated natural and cultural heritage of the region. The project co-ordinator, Professor Dan Grigorescu, Scientific Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, presented the stated objectives and the preliminary results of the project while Dr Marius Skolka, the Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the “Ovidius” University in Constanța presented a “Travel Diary through Dobrogea in 2018”, summarizing the activities carried out in the field.

The research presented during the first section of the conference – focusing on Dobrogean ethnography, history and archaeology – broached a variety of themes such as: “140 years from the union of Dobrogea and Romania” (Professor Valentin Ciorbea), “The Tatar Community in Romania in in Danger” (Professor Tasin Gemil), “Sociological Research of Royal Student Research Teams in Dobrogean Villages” (Dr Enache Tușa), “An Image of Dobrogean Communities seen through Illustrated Postcards” (geographer Ștefan Manolescu), “Capidava – the Citadel at the Turn of the Danube. A Millennium of History.” (Professor Ioan Carol Opriș). “Geo-Archaeology in the Tumular Landscape of Ancient Kallatis: The Funerary Monument at Movila Documaci (Southern Dobrogea)” (Dr Valentina Cetean and collaborators), “Dobrogean Citadels and Regional Development” (Dr Mirela Paraschiv), “Some Aspects of the Geopolitical Role of Major Transport Infrastructure in Dobrogea” (Dr Andrei Schvab and collaborators).

A number of studies were also presented for the second section of the conference, dedicated to the “Conservation of the Natural Environment,” on topics as diverse as “Biodiversity in Quarries – A Case Study of Iglicioara Quarry” (PhD candidates Alexandra Telea, Theodor-Sebastian Topliceanu and collaborators), “Impact Factors of Protected Areas in Romania” (Masters’ students Geanina Fănaru and Alexandra Elena Șoimu), or “Common Natural and Cultural Heritage Conservation Strategies of Archaeological Sites” (Sabina Ochiana and collaborators). In addition to these, the event featured the presentation of a number of posters on “Marine Habitats in ‘Natura 2000’ Conservation Sites off the Romanian Coastline” (Dr Daciana Sava), “Habitats and Plant Species of Conservational Interest on the Romanian Coast” (Professor Marius Făgăraș), “Dobrogea’s Climatic Individuality” (Dr Marius Lungu) and “The Touristic Potential of Northern Dobrogea” (Dr George Cracu).

„O abordare holistică a patrimoniului natural şi cultural ȋn beneficiul școlii şi al comunităţilor”

Professor Dan Grigorescu

Scientific Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization:

 “A holistic approach to natural and cultural heritage to the benefit of education and local communities”

Dobrogea is, without a shadow of a doubt, the region of Romania most representative of the geographical and spiritual space of the Levant, both through its natural landscape, and especially through the diverse histories of the many different ethnicities that have and continue to coexist peacefully in this space. This is where the idea for the Dobrogea project sprung from, shortly after the establishment of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization in November of 2017. The main objectives of the project are as follows: to take a holistic approach to research into the natural and cultural heritage of Dobrogea, with a view to its conservation, administration and sustainable capitalization upon through education and tourism; to conduct research into the history, culture and traditions of the various ethnicities present in this space, in order to foster a better understanding of them; and to facilitate the creation of geoparks in accordance with UNESCO criteria, as this form of conservation area has over the past few years proven a very effective approach to the development of those regions featuring important natural and cultural heritage sites.

The project is carried out on the basis of partnership agreements entered into by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization with the “Ovidius” University in Constanța and the Romanian Geological Institute. The overarching methodological strategy of the project envisions a collaboration between the academic environment – professors, researchers, students – and the communities living in areas of interest, based on the ratification of partnership agreements between representatives of the academic community and local authorities. It is a project that takes a hands-on approach to the acquisition of research data, following on-site field observations with in-depth research and focusing on the interaction between the biological and geological spheres, promoting interdisciplinary research of the natural environment taken as the sum of the animate (biodiversity) and the inanimate (geodiversity) components of any given ecosystem. Moreover, the region’s heritage will similarly be considered holistically over the course of the project, with equal emphasis placed on its natural and cultural landmarks, as this approach – in keeping with the UNESCO model of geoparks – can indeed support the sustainable development of Dobrogea.

“This occasion comes at a fortunate conjuncture, nestled between November 14th, the date of the union between Dobrogea and Romania, and the impending celebration of Romania’s Centennial.

Last summer, over the course of three weeks, a small team of professors and students made their way across Dobrogea from the south to the north of the region. In keeping with the spirit of the project, each day’s sojourns included places of geological, biological and cultural interest: natural reservations, ancient citadels and archaeological monuments.

The end result of the project will be the publication of a monograph, titled “Dobrogea – Nature, History, Culture”; the impact of the project will also be made felt through the organization of scientific manifestations, exhibitions, and publication in IASLCC periodicals, as well as the dissemination of accumulated knowledge in specialty courses and university curricula.

Dobrogea is a wonderful land, of particular natural beauty, that features an abundance of sites of scientific and cultural interest. It is full of open and welcoming people, a space where the diversity of ethnic communities adds to the historical and social interest of the region. Only those that travel across Dobrogea from one end to the other, as we did, can acquire a thorough impression of these undeniable realities, and thus be able to integrate them into a complex and in-depth study designed to improve on a number of the negative aspects we also came across – in no way few in number – and to contribute to an increase in local visibility, with a beneficial impact on the local population.

I will now give the floor to the leadership of the organizations that partnered for this special project: to Mr. Emil Constantinescu, the President of the Scientific Council of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, Ms. Delia Dumitraș, the Director of the National Museum of Geology – the gracious hosts of our present event – and to Professor Marius Skolka, representing the “Ovidius” University of Constanța, our principal partner in this lengthy endeavour.”

Emil Constantinescu: „Institutul nostru poate fi o gazdă pentru cei care își dedică viața cercetării și găsesc în cercetare o rațiune de a fi și nu de a avea”

Emil Constantinescu

President of the Scientific Council of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization:

 “Our Institute can play host to those that dedicate their lives to research, and find in this a reason for being, not solely for having.”

Earlier, Professor Grigorescu evoked the Centennial celebrations. Indeed, these have been and continue to provide the backdrop for many – more or less – pompous speeches. When talking about the Levant, we speak of millennia – and thus I find a story more fitting than a declamation. After millennia, all of history eventually becomes a story; yet sometimes, these tales ring truer than history itself. For this reason, I thought it appropriate to share with you the story of our Institute.

This tale began when, in my capacity as President of the Academy of Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, I had to give an opening address to the undergraduate and Masters’ students that attended that institution from across the world. As I lacked a suitable theme for such an opening address, I conferred with my good friend and close collaborator, Zoe Petre – the memory of whom I pay pious homage to. We thought that, for an introductory course, the story of the Levant would be very fitting.

Why talk about the Levant during a course on cultural diplomacy? Because, if you succeed in finding avenues of cooperation in a space perceived solely as a zone of conflict and wars, then you stand a better chance of beginning a true dialogue. Moreover, the Levant is the cradle of Western civilization. It is the birthplace of algebra and geometry, astronomy and physics, history and geography, poetry and theatre, and of the Olympic ideal. Here spanned the world’s great empires. In their (known) succession, the Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek (under Alexander the Great) or Roman Empires, the Arabian Caliphates and the Persian and Ottoman Empires were not solely forged by the steel. They also gave birth to emblematic cultures and civilizations, and to a certain type of collective mentality that even today, after thousands of years, continues to stand apart from that of its neighbours. After the fall of Constantinople, one part of the Graeco-Roman elites remained in place, and influenced the succeeding Ottoman Empire, who was able to incorporate these influences and create its own individual culture. Another part of the Byzantine elites fled to Italy, taking with them everything of value in terms of Greek culture, philosophy and art; a great influx of high culture that paved the way for the advent of the Renaissance. Western civilization – especially following the Industrial Revolution – acquired the economic and then the military strength to rule and lord over the rest of the world, thus diffusing their culture that traces its origins to the Levant. The British, French, Spanish, Portuguese or Dutch empires, like any empire, also cultivated a certain blend of arrogance. The Levant became the imaginary space to which all the evils of the Western world were banished to, as they were attempting to represent themselves as perfect models. And so, a certain image was created of a space filled with tension, set against a background of poverty to the ostentatious wealth of a conquering, arrogant West. Indeed, Winston Churchill took it one step further, arguing that the Balkans – an intrinsic part of the Levant – have more history than they could afford.

Nearly three decades from the fall of the world’s last great empire, the Soviet Empire, we can already see the growing decadence of the West. A decadence manifested through a marked decline of the average levels of culture and through the loss of moral values. In a way, this mirrors what transpired not in a day, not in a year, not in a decade, not in a century, but over several hundred years from the fall of the Roman Empire. With its glorious infrastructure, economic strength and exceptional military might, the Roman Empire that generated the first globalization in history, became decadent once it lost its moral values, and was left with bread and circuses to satisfy not only the masses but its elites as well. All those who have studied history in any depth agree that it was not the barbarian migrations that brought down the Roman Empire, but that it began to collapse from within the moment it lost its adherence to its set of moral values.

Our attempt to bring the history and culture of the Levant to the fore can represent a return to the crucible in which Western values were forged. It is an ambitious project, but, as we can see, it can also elicit appropriate reactions. When I launched the ‘Levant’ Initiative for Peace in the Middle East – quickly metamorphosed into the ‘Levant’ Initiative for Global Peace – I was shocked at the response I received. I was thrice invited to the United Nations’ General Assembly to present this Initiative, in front of the UN Secretary General, of important religious leaders, and of remarkable scientific and cultural personalities. Then, the ‘Levant’ Initiative for Global Peace was taken on by the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics and was presented at the UNESCO Headquarters, to the Congress of the United States, the Senate of France, the Israeli Knesset… It is an Initiative based on a very simple idea: that we cannot create a sustainable peace, even going beyond the resolution of open or frozen conflicts, unless it is through a dialogue based on the understanding of the Other. This idea, as it is accepted today, represents much more than the principle of tolerance that it evokes. Tolerance means my acceptance of you. I accept that you exist, but, eventually, you will have to accept my ideas and values. True dialogue, on the other hand – one that can form the foundation of the type of cultural diplomacy we have and continue to promote – is based on a deep understanding of the Other, of the idea that we ourselves can gain something from this exchange. For this, we must go back to the very foundations of culture. That is what the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization is attempting to achieve.

Dobrogea is representative of the Levant, acting as a bridge between the cultures of the Far East and those of the West. We have dedicated two of the multi-annual projects of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization to this emblematic region, and Professor Grigorescu will today present the results of the preliminary and preparatory stages of the “Dobrogea – Witness to the Millennial Civilizations of the Levant” project.

I would like to thank all those who saw in the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization a ray of hope for Romanian scientific research not only in the Humanities, but also in that interstitial, convergent realm between the humanities and the natural sciences. It is the full merit of Professor Grigorescu, who has developed this idea throughout his entire life and expanded it to encompass the concept of geoparks, whose founder in Romania he is. In a world of consumerism, defined by a desperate struggle for money and privilege, we believe that our Institute can play host to those who dedicate their lives to scientific research, and find in this a reason for being, not solely for having.”

„Varietatea petrografică a Dobrogei a reprezentat pentru civilizațiile și imperiile despre care domnul profesor Grigorescu a vorbit atât de frumos materia primă în construcția așezărilor omenești”

Dr Delia Dumitraș

Director of the National Museum of Geology:

 “The petrographic variety of Dobrogea comprised the prime construction materials for the civilizations and empires that Professor Grigorescu so eloquently evoked.”

When President Constantinescu, my PhD supervisor, first told me the title of this project: “Dobrogea – Witness to the Millennial Civilizations of the Levant”, I thought that this small region bounded by the Danube and the Black Sea had also played witness to a number of geological phenomena that manifested differently over the course of hundreds of millions of years, phenomena whose final result was a region of an incredibly wide petrographic variety. It is precisely this petrographic variety of Dobrogea that comprised the prime construction materials for human settlement and civil and military construction across all the civilizations and empires that Professor Grigorescu so eloquently evoked. Today, we are left with important traces of the material culture of these civilizations, which can be found all across the breadth of Dobrogea.

You can have a glimpse of some of these elements and their variety of different rock formations at the exhibition we are inaugurating today, titled “Stone Quarries, Citadels and Archaeological Monuments,” which I invite you to view in my dual capacity as both a scientist and the director of the Geological Institute.”

„Observațiile privind siturile cercetate au inclus și factorii de impact, dar și relația acestora cu speciile și habitatele din zonă”

Professor Marius Skolka

Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at “Ovidius” University, Constanța:

 “The observations taken from research sites included an assessment of the impact factors, but also took into consideration their relationship with the various species and habitats in the area.”

“In the summer of 2018, a team of professors, researchers and students from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, the Department of Natural Sciences at the “Ovidius” University in Constanța and the National Geological Institute took part in a short summer “campaign”, which involved extensive travels across Dobrogea. This campaign was part of the “Dobrogea – Witness to the Millennial Civilizations of the Levant” multi-annual project, coordinated by Professor Grigorescu.

The team from the “Ovidius” University in Constanța took note of the state of conservation of the natural habitats and endemic protected species found in “Natura 2000” reserves across Dobrogea, but also of aspects related to the region’s geography and touristic potential. We evaluated the state of conservation of the protected areas part of “Natura 2000” sites, analysing the impact factors and highlighting the protected species within each area. Special attention was given to documenting the invasive species that could be found both in protected areas, and in other types of habitats.

The team from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences of the “Ovidius” University in Constanța was comprised of: Professor Dan Cogălniceanu, team coordinator, Dr Mirela Paraschiv, Dr Cristina Preda, team coordinator, Dr George Cracu, Dr Daniyar Memedemin, Geanina Fănaru and Alexandra Șoimu, Masters’ students reading a course on “Biodiversity Conservation”, Ionuț Bratoșin, student at the Faculty of Geography, biologists Ana-Maria Drăgan, Ovidiu Drăgan, Dr Florina Stănescu, PhD c. Alexandra Telea, engineer Dragoș Bălășoiu and PhD c. Sebastian Topliceanu, with the overall team coordination provided by Dr Marius Skolka.

During the initial phase of the summer campaign, between the 30th of July and the 7th of August, we evaluated the state of conservation of 22 distinct protected areas part of the „Natura 2000” project in South and Central Dobrogea: nine sites of community importance, and 13 sites of aviary and faunal importance. The second stage took place in Northern Dobrogea, between the 19th and 24th of August, documenting another range of “Natura 2000” protected areas together with notable landmarks situated around them.

Our research took concrete form through the compilation of our observation sheets in the field, which documented both the most notable endemic species of plants, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals we came across, as well as the main characteristics of the physical environment and important details regarding the state of its conservation. Our observations on the sites under review also included notable impact factors on the environment, as well as their relationship with the endemic species and habitats in the area. The diversity of impact factors informed our conclusions on the extent of their negative effects on “Natura 2000” protected areas. At the same time, our observations allowed for projections of the future extent of the influence of impact factors on the aforementioned sites. Our research yielded a long list of factors, yet the high-impact ones remain agriculture, communications networks, intrusions and imbalances, the use of biological resources, mining, forestry and urbanisation.”

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