Palestinian Photographer Osama al-Silwadi Speaks on Documenting Palestine’s History

The Birzeit University Architectural Engineering Department held on October 16, 2014 a lecture by Palestinian photographer and founder of Palestine Photo Agency Apollo Osama Silwadi.

General lecturer coordinator Manal Bishawi introduced Silwadi, saying that she values the role he plays in his book "The Stones Confess" in documenting Palestinian architectural heritage by collecting 250 photos of some 30 historical locations, which took about two years of work.

Silwadi told the audience, including department chair Mohammed Abdel-Hadi and several faculty members, that his project’s “heritage documentation” is important for a people under occupation that is exposed to attempts to tamper with cultural heritage for the benefit of the occupier. His book is "the first photo book that documents Palestinian cultural heritage,” Silwadi said.

In order to document the art of Palestinian architecture, Silwadi visited 30 Palestinian historical and archaeological sites, most notably the Old City of Nablus, the city of Sebastia north of Nablus, the ancient city of Hebron, the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, Tel Sultan, Hisham's Palace in Jericho and other historical shrines and palaces.

Silwadi said that "the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank has its own specificity, as it is a masterpiece of stone and was a center of civilization over the ages.”

Silwadi said that all of the photos were taken after 2010, with the exception of photos of Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. He was prohibited from going there by Israeli and so he used old photos from his own archive. "My project is not just a book, it is an ongoing work,” he told listeners.