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If today the Mediterranean seems to be a neuralgic centre of cultural, political, and social tensions, it has also been since Antiquity the privileged vector of exchanges of knowledge, values and goods, and a source of cross-fertilization between civilizations. The project’s aim is to create a network of Mediterranean historical arsenals. The first institutional partners to support the project were the arsenals of Valetta (leader) to which were added Tunis, Algiers, Cyprus, Pisa, Villefranche-sur-mer and Barcelona.
Today these arsenals face abandonment, whereas in Ancient times, the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, in the North as well as the South, they concentrated all the scientific and technical knowledge of their time (astronomy, mathematics, geography, cartography, shipbuilding, medicine...). They were also places of "forced" ecumenism, where galley slaves, prisoners of war, could practice their worship.
Today, all arsenals are confronted with the same difficulties and faced with the same challenges: restructuring of spaces, tourism development, environmental protection, maintenance of huge buildings (shipyards, warehouses, quarantine areas and hospitals for galley slaves...), and safeguarding technological know-how specific to harbours and maritime activities. Located on the seashore, often dependent on administrations with divergent objectives (harbour authorities, cities, ministry of marine or transport...), they are highly sought after by promoters, hotels chains, various tourism companies, etc, who are unaware of the historical and cultural importance of such "places of memory". The networking of partners involved in the project will ensure the development and enhancement of this heritage, and will strengthen the national capacities in the fields of sustainable economic development, training and more particularly management, cultural tourism, and their immediate repercussions on employment.
Originally bound to war, the transformation of arsenals into places of cultural dialogue and peace is a real challenge, because maritime heritage through its buildings, restoration of old ships and submarine heritage is unknown to the general public. The valorisation of arsenals and their transformation as places of dialogue, is inscribed within the framework of conservation policies of cultural heritage, which is a tool towards achieving stability and tolerance in the Mediterranean.
This project for the arsenals is meant to treat these issues jointly. It is composed of six sub-projects:
1. The creation of a network of multimedia centres: www.navigationdusavoir.net
2. Training programme on cultural, eco-cultural and intercultural tourism in the Mediterranean
3. The design of land and maritime cultural itineraries connecting the arsenals
4. The organisation of an itinerant Mediterranean maritime heritage festival
5. Training workshops on traditional Mediterranean maritime carpentry
6. Training workshops on underwater archaeology techniques
The objective of the project “The Navigation of Knowledge” is to create a long term development network of Mediterranean historic arsenals, increase the resources of local organizations for managing and developing the rich cultural heritage, and to have a visible and tangible impact on its role in the social and economic development of the area. Lastly, it will contribute to its integration at the regional level by providing an ideal framework for the development of mutual comprehension, a methodology and a common protocol for transmitting knowledge, and for its conservation.