American University of Beirut


During the year of 2021, the Archeology department, Landscape Architecture department, and AUBotanic set to work on a project to build on AUB’s involvement with EduBioMed. EduBioMed is a project which aims to strengthen, involve, and upgrade the academic activity at Lebanese Higher Education Institutions like AUB in the context of Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves. The project was to build an archaeobotanical floatation unit capable of methodically extracting ancient seeds and archaeological remains from soil samples excavated from Jabal Moussa, one of Lebanon’s significant archeological sites within the Chouf Biosphere Reserve. Dr. Claire Malleson, a professor of archaeology, as well as AUBotanic worked to procure the materials necessary to construct the unit. 

Landscape students were then tasked to design a site as per what Dr. Malleson requested; to be able to safely store the floatation unit used by the Archeology department processing soil samples, while also providing an adequate amount of shade and an enclosed space to dry them after extraction. 

Landscape students were tasked to recycle materials from AUB campus’s junkyard, and were given the liberty to pick up any material and ask for it to be cut or fitted to their specifications. The Physical Plant’s workshop staff assisted in completing these specifications. As a result, students were introduced to the process of procuring material, transportation, and putting said material together to create a coherent design. The end result was a drying and storage room, and a platform with which to place the floatation unit when in operation.

The unit is a simple concept, composed of several tanks attached in such a way that water may flow through them all continuously. Water is then circulated between them via a pump. The soil samples are then placed in the first tank, where remains are expected to float and be separated from heavier clay and inorganic substances. The floating matter is then transferred to the second tank, where it passes through a specialized sieve first. One sample must do several laps in the floatation unit’s system before it is considered processed and ready for collection and drying.

The site can be accessed from the concrete staircase right of the tennis court, and leading up to the observatory. Viewers can plainly see the yellow room structure that will be used to store the floatation unit as well as the dried archaeology samples. The AUBotanic will announce when the floatation unit will be used by volunteers, so that visitors may come to learn more about the process. Please stay updated on our latest upcoming events via our website, 

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