Cultural Preservation

Ephesus inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List

“Ephesus inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List”

by Ozgure Tore via “FTN News

Ephesus library

The World Heritage Committee this afternoon approved the inscription of Ephesus in Turkey and three other sites on the World Heritage List. Besides Ephesus, sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining in Japan, Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System in Mexico, and Fray Bentos Cultural-Industrial Landscape in Uruguay are approved.

The Committee also approved the extension of Spain’s Routes of Santiago de Compostela with the addition of the “Camino Francés and Routes of Northern Spain”.

The new sites are:

Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining (Japan)—The site encompasses a series of eleven properties, mainly located in the southwest of Japan. It bears testimony to the rapid industrialization of the country from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century, through the development of the steel industry, shipbuilding and coal mining. The site illustrates the process by which feudal Japan sought technology transfer from Europe and America from the middle of the 19th century and how this technology was adapted to the country’s needs and social traditions. The site testifies to what is considered to be the first successful transfer of Western industrialization to a non-Western nation.

Ephesus (Turkey)—Located within what was once the estuary of the River Kaystros, Ephesus comprises successive Hellenistic and Roman settlements founded on new locations, which followed the coastline as it retreated westward. Excavations have revealed grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period including the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre. Little remains of the famous Temple of Artemis, one of the “Seven Wonders of the World,” which drew pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean. Since the 5th century, the House of the Virgin Mary, a domed cruciform chapel seven kilometres from Ephesus, became a major place of Christian pilgrimage. The Ancient City of Ephesus is an outstanding example of a Roman port city, with sea channel and harbour basin. . . .


UNESCO’s newest World Heritage Sites

“UNESCO’s newest World Heritage Sites”

by Katia Hetter via “CNN News

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has added 24 new spots and 3 significant extensions to the UNESCO World Heritage List and three spots to its List of World Heritage in Danger. Click through the gallery to see some new members of both lists, including the only U.S. site added in 2015 (shown here).

There’s the site where Jesus was believed to have been baptized by John the Baptist. And then there are the spots where French Champagne and Burgundy were born. And you remember the Alamo, part of the San Antonio Missions of Texas?

They are among the 27 newest members of the exclusive UNESCO World Heritage List.

Since Friday, the United Nations’ cultural body has named natural, cultural and combination sites around the world to its prestigious preservation list. The World Heritage List now includes 1,031 natural and cultural wonders that are considered to be places of “outstanding universal value.”

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee had been considering new sites at a meeting in Bonn, Germany, that started June 28.

San Antonio Missions site gets World Heritage status

The inscribed sites of “outstanding universal value” must also meet one or more of 10 criteriasuch as “representing a masterpiece of human creative genius,” containing “exceptional natural beauty” or being an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement.

UNESCO has been adding sites to the World Heritage List since 1978. Nations often spend years developing pitches for inclusion on the list because of its significant cultural cachet and the fame and resources it can attract to sites in need of restoration and protection. They must convince the UNESCO committee that they will protect their sites and support them financially.  . . .


Dance Preview: Cambodia Troupe Preserves its Cultural Heritage

“Dance Preview: Cambodia Troupe Preserves its Cultural Heritage”

by Jane Vranish  via “Pittsburgh Gazette

20141104hoCambodiaMag04 The Royal Ballet of Cambodia.

There is a lesson to be learned from the Royal Ballet of Cambodia: that, no matter what, the arts will persevere. When this company tours, it is more than a respected dance troupe; it is a true symbol, much like a phoenix rising from the ashes, of its small southeastern Asia country that has been beleaguered over the centuries.

So when the troupe comes to the Byham Theater Friday as a special presentation of Cohen & Grigsby Trust, it will demonstrate not only the art of dance but the art of survival.

The Royal Ballet of Cambodia
Where: Byham Theater, Downtown.
When: 8 p.m., Friday,.
Tickets: $20-$45; 412-456-6666, or Theater Square Box Office.

The ballet has recently served as an ambassador, performing its ritualistic dances for heads of state. It also served as a reminder of Cambodia’s attempt during the Vietnam War to remain neutral.

All along the Royal Ballet had been treading a fine line between heaven and earth. It was considered to have ties to the gods, but also served as a harem to Cambodian kings, the dancers restricted to palace grounds.

The company persevered while Cambodia was marked by inner turmoil and outside conflicts with other nations, most notably Thailand and France. The French controlled the country from 1864 to 1953, when Cambodia achieved independence. At one point, the French tried to disband the troupe, but a young King Sihanouk and his mother, Queen Kossamak, recognizing its political and spiritual importance, reinstated it. At that time, the queen codified and modernized the technique. Dancers moved out of the palace and into the city.

The company suffered a setback in 1975, when Cambodia was overtaken by the notorious Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge. Most of the company was killed in the genocide that followed. Those few who successfully hid among the people emerged in the 1980s to painstakingly reconstruct the company. Today it tours the world, led by Her Royal Highness Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, who serves as the company’s choreographer. In a tribute to the group’s importance in preserving the 1,000-year old Khmer dance style, UNESCO recognized the ballet as part of its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2003.

The Royal Ballet is known worldwide for its delicacy of style and nuance. The dancers stretch every morning into impossibly difficult poses, particularly hand gestures that are remarkable for their flexibility. Chamroeuntola Chap, one of eight female “stars” on the current U.S. tour, says it should feel “like you’re floating.” But she says it took years of training to achieve, including a stint at the university to learn the troupe’s history. . . . .


“Archaeologists Train “Monuments Men” to Save Syria’s Past”

“Archaeologists Train “Monuments Men” to Save Syria’s Past”

by Andrew Curry via “National Geographic

Amid the devastation and danger of civil war, Syrian archaeologists and activists are risking their lives in the battle against looting. . . .

Photo of Free Syrian Army fighters walking with their weapons in the Umayyad mosque of Old Aleppo.

The ancient city of Dura-Europos sits on a bluff above the Tigris River a few miles from Syria’s border with Iraq, its mud-brick walls facing a bleak expanse of desert. Just a year ago the city’s precise grid of streets—laid down by Greek and Roman residents 2,000 years ago—was largely intact. Temples, houses, and a substantial Roman outpost were preserved for centuries by the desert sands.

“It stood out for its remarkable preservation,” saysSimon James, an archaeologist at the U.K.’s University of Leicester who spent years studying the site’s Roman garrison. “Until now.” (See before and after pictures of archaeological site looting.)

Satellite images of the site released by the U.S. State Department in June show a shocking picture of devastation. In the past year, as fighting continued to rage between the government of President Bashar al Assad’s troops and rebels—including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria—the site has been ravaged by industrial-scale looting.

Photo of the Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo in 2009.

Aleppo’s Umayyad Mosque is seen here in 2009, before being damaged in the civil unrest.

“It’s a lunar landscape of spoil heaps,” says James. “Obviously, the looters were bankrolled to a massive extent to do something like this.”

It may be too late to save Dura-Europos, but archaeologists and activists are scrambling to preserve what’s left of Syria’s rich history, which stretches back more than 10,000 years. The efforts are focused on training locals to save ancient monuments and museum collections in the midst of a war zone.

Organizations including the University of Pennsylvania’s Cultural Heritage Center, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and Heritage for Peace, a network of volunteers and activists based in Spain, have been holding workshops to train Syrian archaeologists, curators, and activists in “first aid for objects and sites,” says Emma Cunliffe, a consultant specializing in heritage protection during conflicts.  . . .”