ECOLOGY – BETWEEN LANDS AND BLOSSOMS
This research starts from looking at the ecology of Syria, an extremely varied region marked by a Mediterranean coastline, a semi-arid steppe, and an eastern desert. From this more general introduction and territorial scale, the investigation shifts focus to the city of Damascus. Different microclimates, topographical conditions, and geologic histories influence the diverse landscapes in this area and determine specific agricultural practices. On a smaller scale, the walled garden of the Near East is considered in terms of its relation to scripture and the cultural imagination as an idealization or translation of paradise. The harnessing and control of water, agriculture, and botanical practices are important elements in the culture and economy of the whole region. The garden itself can be understood both in practical and spiritual ways. The blossom of the Jasmine flower symbolically represents the city of Damascus. Its reputation and scope beyond the outline of the Orient vary between cultures and often lead to a romantic view of the environment being treated. This juxtaposition of realities, necessities or desires and the poetic idealization of the Levant give ecology – manifested in nature as a cultivated landscape with engineered water systems and designed gardens – a remarkable role within the context of Syria.