Category Archives: AntiquityNOW Forum

Throwback Thursday! Rescuing Our Cultural Legacies

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As news broke this week that Nimrud had been recaptured from ISIS, the world held its breath as the extent of the destruction began to be revealed. So much has been lost and though ISIS is being driven out of many of its strongholds, they continue to systematically destroy cultural heritage.

In this terrifying and heartbreaking time, we wanted to republish a previous blog post that highlights the good that is being done to protect the world’s cultural heritage every day. In the exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener, co-Founder and Communications Director at Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE), speaks to Global Heritage Fund’s Executive Director Stefaan Poortman about the importance of cultural heritage and what the Global Heritage Fund has done to save the world’s cultural treasures.

AHE is a resource partner for AntiquityNOW’s The Slavery Project (TSP), a series of curricula for high school students looking at the long and inglorious history of slavery. This interview with Global Heritage Fund was published on Ancient History Encyclopedia’s website in August 2015. It is reprinted with permission of both parties.

Click here to read the full post and interview.

For the Sake of Us All: Rescuing Our Cultural Legacies

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AntiquityNOW along with many cultural heritage organizations looks with dismay and horror at how some of the world’s most ancient and history-laden sites are being destroyed by ideology, corrupt politics, fragile economies and human deprivation. There is no one answer on how to stem the tide of destruction, but the Global Heritage Fund’s Executive Director Stefaan Poortman has some insightful and intriguing observations on the current state of affairs. Continue reading

Khaled al-Asaad and the Price of Memory

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The murder by ISIS of Khaled al-Asaad, 82, a renowned Syrian archaeologist and scholar, was a heinous act. His death is a blow to Syria and the world’s cultural heritage.

Tadmor, Syria: the scene of the theater of Palmyra

Tadmor, Syria: the scene of the theater of Palmyra

What possesses a person to cleave so to an ideal that he would give up his own life? As social media spread the details of Asaad’s death, there was sincere horror and disgust at the price of his refusal to disclose where Palmyra’s antiquities had been hidden. Asaad, with more than 50 years as head of antiquities in Palmyra, along with other officials, had spirited away many of the artifacts that undoubtedly would have ended up being sold on the black market, fetching the high prices that fuel ISIS’ activities. Continue reading

“Is it Time to Rethink Our Ideas About Preserving World Heritage?” A Provocative Question in Dire Times

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The Financial Times’ recent article, “Is It Time to Rethink Our Ideas About Preserving World Heritage?” by Jonathan Foyle, explores whether in the face of the ongoing destruction of cultural heritage from natural disasters and “human aggression, theft and errors of judgment,” new ways of preserving our heritage should be sought. Continue reading

The Nepal Earthquake: Cultural Heritage and the Soul of a People

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How do societies define themselves? To some degree or another, they look to the past. Where their people originated, the gods who have guided and protected them, their cultural accomplishments through the ages and the ancient sites that embody their historical heart.

Dharahara Tower before and after the earthquake. Image credit: NPR, Sunil Sharma/Xinhua/Landov and Narendra Shrestha/EPA/Landov

Dharahara Tower before and after the earthquake. Image credit: NPR, Sunil Sharma/Xinhua/Landov and Narendra Shrestha/EPA/Landov

The massive earthquake in Nepal has resulted in thousands of deaths and casualties. Pictures reveal vast swathes of devastation, and as with most catastrophes, it’s hard to distinguish amidst the rubble the evidence of previous human habitation. The earthquake now is embedded as a fault line of the nation’s 21st century self: the time before the earthquake, the time after. Once again, this ancient land has raised itself upward and wrenched itself away from earth’s pull. Eventually, after the geological frenzy, it will settle back down again. In Nepal’s strata, in its layers of broken tiles and artifacts, history reveals itself as relentlessly repeating. Continue reading

ISIS, Syria and the Eradication of Culture: As the Ancient World Falls, Efforts Mount to Save World Heritage

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ISIS has reportedly bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud.

ISIS has reportedly bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud.

You’ve probably seen the reports of destruction coming out of the Middle East. You’ve certainly heard of ISIS and its reign of terror. The loss of life and the horrifying atrocities being committed against innocent people are splashed across every news network. But ISIS is doing more than taking individual lives. The group is bent on annihilating ancient culture and what it represents. This part of the news story may not have caught everyone’s eye, but it is a desperately important part of that story. Continue reading

To Repatriate or Not to Repatriate, That is the Question….James Cuno’s Case Against Repatriating Museum Artifacts

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The Elgin Marbles, one of the most famous cases in the debate over repatriation, are seen here in the British Museum.

The Elgin Marbles, one of the most famous cases in the debate over repatriation, are seen here in the British Museum.

The topic of repatriation of cultural artifacts is hotly contested, with intense opinions and emotions on both sides of the argument. Repatriation of cultural artifacts is a process by which an item is returned to its country of origin. Whether or not an item should be returned to its country of origin may seem like an easy question to answer. Of course a nation’s cultural history should rest with the nation itself. However, the issue is not so simple. Most people agree that when repatriation is requested because an item has been looted and illegally removed from its origin, it should be returned, but when the repatriation request is based solely upon a nation’s claim to their cultural heritage, the issue becomes extremely complicated. There are questions about a nation’s ability to safeguard the item, questions surrounding regions at war and embroiled in violent conflict, issues with humanity’s right to its shared cultural heritage and problems that arise when multiple nations claim a right to the artifact because the original home of the artifact no longer exists. In fact, the topic is so nuanced and is impacted by so many different forces, it is sometimes difficult to figure out which side you’re on. Continue reading

King Tut Controversy: The Controversial Portrait of a Boy King

AN ForumZahi HawassRecently Zahi Hawass, prominent Egyptian archaeologist, spoke out against a high profile television program called Tutankamun: The Truth Uncovered produced for the BBC and Smithsonian Channel, saying it “reveals lies, not the truth.”[1] He points out that the reconstruction of the boy king’s face is completely distorted and not based on scientific evidence and that the characterization of his hips as “feminine” is also incorrect and not based in fact. Continue reading

Introducing AN Forum: Commentary From Around the Globe

AN ForumAntiquityNOW is launching AN Forum, a new platform that encourages global conversation about the importance of cultural preservation and the enduring influence of the ancient past on our modern lives.  Periodically, we will post articles, commentaries and other posts from the web’s trove of opinion and reporting that spark our curiosity, enlighten our understanding and strike our fancy. Please feel free to share your own original writings or articles you come across of particular interest on topics exploring our cultural legacies from around the world. Continue reading