5.2 Reciprocal view

Foucault also argues that, in order for surveillance to be an effective form of discipline, the viewed must know that there is a possibility they are being monitored and see the observation structure (Foucault 1991, 198). From WF1415 one would be able to 'see' both the community and the mines. The question is, does an individual standing at a mine entrance have a reciprocal view of the towers?

Reverse viewsheds were created by modelling the view of a 1.5m individual standing at the 59 mine entrances (this had to be accomplished in four groups owing to software limitations). If WF1415 were 8m high it could be seen from 56 out of 59 of those points. If the towers were 10m or 12m they were visible from 57 out of 59 entrances (Figs 15-18).

Figure 15 Figure 16 Figure 17 Figure 18
Figure 15: Group 1 of mines and the view from them to WF1415 (set at 10m).
Figure 16: Group 2 of mines and the view from them to WF1415 (set at 10m).
Figure 17: Group 3 of mines and the view from them to WF1415 (set at 10m).
Figure 18: Group 4 of mines and the view from them to WF1415 (set at 10m).

This high proportion suggests that WF1415 was purposefully placed at a very prominent spot in the landscape. Individuals standing at the entrances of the mines could look west and see the towers and know there was a possibility that they were being monitored. If some individuals were working on the surface, processing the ore or guarding the mine entrances, WF1415 would be visible as well. Of course once in the mines, this is no longer the case. However, when the miner left the mine (and their eyes adjusted) they would be able to see the towers again.

WF1415 was not just prominent in relation to the mines but throughout the entire Qalb. By generating a sample of points 100m apart from the mines west to WF1415, the views throughout the landscape can be tested. If one were walking back from the mines, throughout most of the landscape the towers of WF1415 would be visible (43 out of 46 points have reciprocal views).

Figure 15
Figure 19: Points generated at 100m apart in landscape with WF1415 set at 10m.

The final concept in creating a panoptic system is that the viewers (in this case the authorities) are hidden and, although they can view everything, they are not reciprocally visible to the viewed (i.e. the prisoners) (Foucault 1991, 200). In fact, the hidden observer behind a 'blind' was considered to be a more powerful agent of control because the prisoners experienced uncertainty of privacy. We have no evidence for blinds at the top of the towers. However, the Faynan has extreme temperatures in summer; it is likely that the towers had some form of shade. Miners and convicts standing in the sun would not be able to distinguish a guard from the shadows easily.

Although the existence of a 'blind' is uncertain, the size and location of WF1415 made it very visible and capable of creating a statement of hegemony at a distance, meeting the requirements of a panoptic structure.


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Last updated: Tue Nov 3 2009