UN cultural agency UNESCO on Tuesday urged Malian and French forces fighting in Mali to protect ancient cultural sites during air raids and ground attacks.
“I ask all armed forces to make every effort to protect the cultural heritage of the country, which has already been severely damaged,” UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said in a statement.
French warplanes have been hitting targets in various parts of the country since Friday in support of Malian forces seeking to dislodge Islamist rebels who last year seized control of its vast desert north.
The rebels have since fled three key cities in the north, including Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage site at a desert crossroads that was an ancient centre of learning. Read more.
GUATEMALA CITY - Tourists flocking to Guatemala for “end of the world” parties have damaged an ancient stone temple at Tikal, the largest archaeological site and urban centre of the Mayan civilization.
“Sadly, many tourists climbed Temple II and caused damage,” said Osvaldo Gomez, a technical adviser at the site, which is located some 550 kilometres north of Guatemala City.
“We are fine with the celebration, but (the tourists) should be more aware because this is a (UNESCO) World Heritage Site,” he told local media. Gomez did not specify what was done, although he did say it was forbidden to climb the stairs at the site and indicated that the damage was irreparable. Read more.
The future of an ancient agricultural landscape, incorporating extensive stone-walled terraces and a unique natural irrigation system, could be decided on Wednesday when a petition against the planned route of Israel’s vast concrete and steel separation barrier is heard by the high court.
The terraces of the Palestinian village of Battir, near Bethlehem, are expected to be declared a world heritage site by Unesco, the United Nations’ cultural body, in the coming months.
But, Friends of the Earth, which filed the petition, says Israel’s decision to construct the West Bank barrier through a valley running between the terraces threatens to inflict irreversible harm to the landscape. Read more.
BEIRUT (AP) — A landmark mosque in Aleppo was burned, scarred by bullets and trashed — the latest casualty of Syria’s civil war — and President Bashar Assad on Monday ordered immediate repairs to try to stem Muslim outrage at the desecration of the 12th century site.
The Umayyad Mosque suffered extensive damage, as has the nearby medieval covered market, or souk, which was gutted by a fire that was sparked by fighting two weeks ago. The market and the mosque are centerpieces of Aleppo’s walled Old City, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Government troops had been holed up in the mosque for months before rebels launched a push this week to drive them out. Activists and Syrian government officials blamed each other for the weekend fire at the mosque. Read more.
In 1966, curators at the archaeological museum of the University of Pennsylvania bought a pile of gorgeous Bronze Age jewelry from a Philadelphia dealer. They couldn’t know their purchase would change how museums work.
The 24 gold objects had come to Penn with no trace of where they’d been unearthed, or how. That left scholars there without much clue about why and when the gold had been worked, or by whom— and with the suspicion that it had been dug up by looters. Frustrated, they decided to take steps to prevent this kind of “homelessness” for other antiquities. In 1970, they issued a declaration (a Philadelphia tradition, after all) insisting that the Penn museum would no longer acquire ancient objects whose history could not be properly tracked. Later that year, a UNESCO convention on cultural property suggested the same rule for all other museums, and since then, reputable institutions have pretty much toed that line.
Last week, Penn brought things full circle by announcing that it was more or less undoing the 1966 acquisition that had helped raise the issue. Read more.
A total of 26 places around the globe, including farmhouses in Sweden and a Neolithic site in Turkey, have been added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites so far this year, according to a recent announcement during the World Heritage Committee’s annual meeting.
Some spots are famed for their unique natural beauty and others for their cultural significance. With the addition of the 26 sites, there are now 962 World Heritage Sites around the planet.
Here’s a list of the newest additions:
Five natural sites were inscribed during the present session: Lakes of Ounianga (Chad); Sangha Trinational (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo,); Chengjiang Fossil Site (China); Western Ghats (India); Lena Pillars Nature Park (Russian Federation). Read more.
LIMA—The UN’s cultural arm UNESCO is calling for emergency measures to prevent the town that feeds tourists to Peru’s archeological marvel Machu Picchu from becoming overrun.
The 15th century Incan city is perched on a mountain high above the town of Aguas Caliente, which has seen a boom in hotels and restaurants to accommodate an ever-growing number of visitors.
“The authorities charged with protecting the archeological site of Machu Picchu, located in the Cusco region, must take rigorous emergency measures to counter the growing disorganization of Aguas Calientes,” Nuria Sanz, the head of UNESCO for Latin America and the Caribbean, said during a mission to Peru this week. Read more.
AFP - Babylon’s Hanging Gardens were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but heritage appears to be no match for Iraq’s booming oil industry in a dispute over a new pipeline.
As Baghdad is working to get UNESCO to list Babylon as a World Heritage Site, archaeologists and oil ministry officials are in a battle over a pipeline that one side insists threatens the site and could cause irreparable damage to the ruins.
Qais Rashid, head of the Supreme Board of Antiquities and Heritage, said the oil ministry drilled to extend a pipeline that runs about 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles) in length, to transport petroleum products through the archaeological site of Babylon.
The pipeline was officially opened in March.
“The work could damage priceless antiquities belonging to the modern era of Babylon, especially by drilling,” Rashid said. Read more.