Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Antiquities Under Siege recommendation made 8 years ago now being taken up

This is one of the few ideas now in play that really could do some good in terms of protecting archaeological sites:

the task force proposed by Italy, which “is gaining traction at UNESCO”, should include archeologists, military forces specialized in the safeguard of cultural heritage, ONGs personnel and cataloguers. “They should be deployed in “grey” areas where there are tensions, but not wars”. It is something similar to the “culture peacekeepers”, as it was discussed recently, but “definitely, we are not talking about sending paratroopers to Palmyra”, clarified the minister. 
Italy thinks that peacekeeping missions should also include a cultural dimension, and Gentiloni made the longstanding experience acquired by Carabinieri available to the project.
In the appendix to Antiquities under Siege: Cultural Heritage Protection after the Iraq War (Altamira, 2008), we put forth this recommendation, among others. The key difference from other "Monuments Men"-style task forces being advocated for by Blue Shield and other preservation/conservation-focused groups is that here there will also be some people who can protect the sites from gun-toting looters, a crucial need if the work of preserving and conserving is to be feasible.

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