Blog • Storie Nostrum in Albania

Through its innovative sound system, the Storie Nostrum project contributes to promoting the cultural and archaeological heritage of the Apollonia site. On March 30, 2022, during the “Nocturnes de l’Histoire” at the École Normale on rue d’Ulm in Paris, a presentation made it possible to become familiar with his enchanting ambition to make “ordinary voices of there 2500 years old. On June 19, it was possible to listen to them in situ in the archaeological park. The next appointment is July 4 at the Institute of Archeology in Tirana, in the presence of the writer Gazmend Kapllani, author of the texts transposed into audio files.

On the occasion of the European Archeology Days (June 17-19, 2022), the National Archaeological Park of Apollonia hosted many activities organized in collaboration with the National Institute of Cultural Heritage and the Directorate of Archaeological Service in Albania . Among the participants: students from the University of Tirana, young people from the “Epoka e Re” Youth Center and the “Pojan Zvap” school in Fier and a good number of individual visitors who are passionate about history or simply curious.

On the program for this day-marathon: reconnaissance of the site (mosaics, remains from the Roman era, collection of archaeological objects, etc.), the process of uncovering a protected floor mosaic and its restoration, the preparation of tesserae, composition and drawing of sketches, etc. One objective: to better introduce young people to conservation, protection, documentation and reconstruction. A guided tour of the ancient city of Apollonia inside the archaeological park accompanied by professional tourist guides was also offered.

When the old stones rustle with voices from 2,500 years ago…

At the beginning of the sound capsule: “The Delta and the Alpha”, the team leader speaks to a stonemason: “Hey, bugger, look what you’ve done! There, on the block of stone I carved earlier: you forgot to mark it with the delta and the alpha of the city’s public workshop! the D for DAMOS and the A for “APOLLONIATAN”: it’s not complicated! If we don’t count the stones, we won’t get paid. And I have to send all this cargo to those who are restoring the wall. We’re already very late and I just got yelled at by the city foreman. »

The Storie Nostrum project team, made up of archaeologists and musicologists, is in Albania from June 3 to July 15. The “True Stories of the Mediterranean” association presented, on Sunday June 19, a sound journey on the Apollonia site with QR codes scattered throughout the archaeological park to allow visitors to listen in situ (in French version and in Albanian version) two 7-minute recordings, four 2-minute short stories and three sound compositions.

Blog • Storie Nostrum in Albania

All the sound tracks are available on the playlist of the dedicated YouTube channel:

The archaeological site of Apollonia is located near the village of Pojan, a few kilometers from the town of Fier in central Albania. Extraordinarily beautiful and free from noise pollution, it resonates with an incredible variety of natural sounds. From the park, you can see the sun cast its last lights before plunging into the sea bordering the long plain of the Myzeqe.

The Apollonia Archeology Museum is located just a few meters from a magnificent Orthodox monastery. The serenity and aesthetics that emerge from this place contribute to the quality of the productions made for Storie Nostrum thanks to the richness of the diurnal and nocturnal rhythms.

The team of musicians and inventors of sound atmospheres, resulting from the seminar “Music, Sound Arts, Sound Ecology” by Makis Solomos, professor of the musicology department of the University of Paris 8 Vincennes- Saint-Denis in France, is thus placed in optimal conditions for creation.

Photo credit: Apollonia Archaeological Park

The “True Stories of the Mediterranean” association has designed a very light and easy-to-install audio system, which it has placed near the monumental center of the ancient city. It allowed visitors to sit down and listen to the sound that came to occupy the entire site, whether sitting under an oak tree, lying in the grass or on the steps of the odeon. QR codes on the information panels gave access to the dedicated Youtube channel in vf and vo for the voices. Alongside the audio files of texts written by Gazmend Kapllani, very short stories, invented especially for Apollonia, recount the life of an ordinary inhabitant of the city. They are intended for a school audience and allow to embody fictitious characters placed in a precise archaeological context. An example: the story of a stonecutter to highlight the marks of jobbers on the blocks of the “analemma” of the “Léon Rey” hill. The authors of this project wanted to dedicate it to the magnificent “stoa” of 18 niches by evoking the functioning of the circulation of water in a large city with the system of gutters and pipes.

By the complexity of its realization on the site, the Storie Nostrum project owes a lot to the members of the sound team who worked, on site, to create from A to Z very varied sound environments. They have also set up a mini recording studio to capture the voices of the Albanian actors involved in the project: Romir Zalla, Vasjan Lami and Ema Andrea. They built a sound bank from their field recordings in Apollonia as well as in Tirana and Tepelena, a city known for its fortress. Finally, they produced and mixed in fifteen days two long podcasts, four shorter ones in French and Albanian and three musical compositions.

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The system set up in Apollonia by the Storie Nostrum project is set to continue. It offers very flexible forms of enhancement of the archaeological heritage through sound sequences available to a very wide audience. Another important aspect of the project will have been to constitute a sound bank with the sounds of the natural environment which are of a beauty and a rare diversity according to the hours of the day and the night. It will be the subject of specific work with the musicology department of Paris 8 in sound ecology.

Photo credit: “True stories of the Mediterranean” association

Apollonia: an example of Franco-Albanian scientific and cultural cooperation

For Vincent Mespoulet, general coordinator of the project and president of the “True Stories of the Mediterranean” association, Apollonia is a symbol of the Franco-Albanian scientific and cultural cooperation that has linked the two countries since the 1920s, when Léon Rey began the first modern scientific excavations on the site. This cooperation was reactivated by the immense, tireless and generous work of the historian and epigraphist Pierre Cabanes who founded, in a very concrete spirit of openness with the Albanian archaeologists, the new Franco-Albanian archaeological mission at Apollonia from 1992. Professor Cabane has devoted his life to bringing out the image of another ancient Greece, often neglected, wrongly considered peripheral. Research in France on ancient Epirus, this region straddling Albania and Greece, would simply not exist without its constant action and energy, as Vincent Mespoulet points out.

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The scientific coordination of the Storie Nostrum project is provided by Marie-Pierre Dausse, historian and lecturer in the history department of Paris 8.

This former student of Pierre Cabanes, who supervised her thesis, has an intimate knowledge of all the territories of Epirus in Albania and Greece, which she has explored in every corner for more than twenty years. His close contacts with Albanian, Greek, Italian, German and French archaeologists have made it possible to make the heart of the project concrete: to associate scientists, archaeologists and historians to artists and authors to offer a wide audience the achievements of the most cutting-edge, most current and most demanding research. With this first experience, on June 19, 2022, the objective was to break away from the usual formats of audioguides by introducing narration and an artistic sound environment.

These sound sequences are now available at any time on the site, with a simple smartphone. They can be listened to too.

Visual of Storie Nostrum in Albanian

The sonic retelling of human stories in ancient Apollonia is a collective and artistic adventure unique in its kind of public archaeology. It has mobilized many people since September 2021, without whom this project could not have taken place, and draws new bridges between France and Albania in several scientific and artistic fields. On July 4, 2022, a restitution-reading is planned at the Institute of Archeology of Albania, in Tirana, in the presence of actors and the writer Gazmend Kapllani, author of the texts transposed into sound capsules on the Internet. .

We want to give thanks to the author of this post for this outstanding material

Blog • Storie Nostrum in Albania

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