Discover UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which have been attacked during wars.
UNESCO’s publication show the Sites before war, and where possible, what they looked after being attacked & how UNESCO has helped to restore them.
Culture stands on the frontline of conflicts, deliberately targeted to fuel hatred and block reconciliation.
Warlords target culture because it strikes to the heart and because it has powerful media value in an increasingly connected world. Some cultural sites have an outstanding universal value — they belong to all and must be protected by all. Let’s be clear. We are not just talking about stones and building.
This is about values, identities and belonging.
Destroying culture hurts societies for the long term. It deprives them of collective memory banks as well as precious social and economic assets.
• Ancient Chinese arrowhead found in Japan
• Campaign renewed to save Iron Age fort in Scotland
• Prehistoric headless skeleton unearthed in Cambridgeshire
• Indians ‘broke Australian isolation 4,000 years ago’
• War was central to Europe’s first civilisation
• 4,000-year-old shaman’s stones discovered in Panama
• Baby bones found in ancient Italian village
• Neolithic remains discovered in Istanbul
• Prehistoric rock art site found in Western India
• Stone circle found at church in Northern England
• Storms expose Iron Age skeleton in Shetland
• Intact Neolithic floor surface uncovered in Cyprus
• Vietnamese caves occupied for over 11,000 years
• Mesolithic man should be re-named ‘hunter-gatherer-farmer’
• Modern ‘palaeo diet’ not as good as the original
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Stone Pages with BAJR and Past Horizons presents the long running archaeology based podcast with the latest archaeology news, mainly related to prehistory, megalithic monuments and discoveries.
By Kate Sloan
The Peter Potter Gallery located in Haddington, southeast Scotland, commissioned artist Gemma Coyle to create an evolving installation exploring the absurdities of the world represented in the rich and compelling context of the early museum archive.
The work on display brings together fascinating – and often macabre – museum catalogue entries from 1695 with the rather prim and apparently innocent art of quilling. This creates an interesting tension in the work, given the collision of the delicate and time-consuming process with the dark and disturbing objects the text describes.Image: Gemma Coyle
Coyle says she is “fascinated by the perturbing, complex, breathtaking, curious, wondrous and absurd world around us, as well as the variety of living forms on it”.A subtle and spiky humour
Her work recalls the heyday of feminist art of the 1970s, in which the kinds of arts associated with womanhood such as sewing, baking or decorating ceramics were reclaimed to create a vivid and often violent commentary on gender inequalities. Artists such as Judy Chicago and Louise Bourgeois created a practice in which these traditional crafts were subverted and controlled to question ideas of femininity, womanhood and social structure. In The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine, Rozsika Parker reflected that:
“Changes in ideas about femininity that can be seen reflected in the history of embroidery are striking confirmation that femininity is a social and psychosocial product.”
In the same text, Parker quotes an 18th century source as follows:
“Sir, she’s an Artist with her needle….Could anything be more laughable than a woman claiming artistic status for her sewing?”
This offers an interesting insight into the historical view on women’s crafts, but more importantly, women’s abilities. While Coyle’s work is not overtly feminist in ethos, there is a subtle and spiky humour about the interplay of the floral patterns, decorative colours and effects, traditionally feminine techniques in contrast with the sheer savagery of the language she has borrowed. The violence of these catalogue entries relates to both genders, but taken out of context – ‘A Mans Gutts’ for example – they often create a sense of violent or troubled relationships.A suitable occupation for women of breeding
Quilling, like embroidery, was a craft which in the 18th century was considered a suitable occupation for women of breeding. The craft was practised during the Renaissance (14th century) by monks and nuns in Italy and France, who would decorate their religious objects with ornate patterns. They used golden-edged strips that were left over from bookmaking to wind around a quill, forming tight coils of paper which could then be glued in patterns to create decorative motifs. This was cheaper than using proper gold filigree and had a decorative and ornate result. It translated well to the creation of feminine pictures of flora and fauna and thus it was a suitable and relatively easy craft for upper class women of the 18thand 19th centuries to take up as part of the ongoing enforcement of the link between womanhood and decoration.A material with limitless potential
Paper itself is a sculptural material with limitless potential – it can be cut, moulded, mashed, ripped, torn, shredded, compressed, carved, layered, dyed, painted, drawn on, varnished, folded or glued. It can be used to create sculpture that is enduring and solid, or the most delicate and vulnerable tissue-thin works, intended only to survive the length of an exhibition. It is also worth noting that paper has been vital to the preservation and reconstruction of history, in the form of documents, drawings, prints and photographs. In its virgin form it is pure potential; blank, empty, silent. As soon as we make a mark or a fold, we intervene. We begin to create history. As noted, the document used for this exhibition dates to 1695, and it has endured to fascinate and inspire us today.Image: Gemma Coyle A catalogue of wonder and grotesquery
We make our histories from remains: aside from oral histories, historical narrative relies on surviving objects and paper ephemera such as documents, drawings and photographs. While there are many reasons to collect – nostalgia, fascination, greed, education, salvage – through doing so, we preserve history. This exhibition takes as its starting point the peculiarities of one historical document by Frans Schuyl, dated to 1695, which listed the content of an early museum:
“A Catalogue of all of the Cheifest Rarities in the Publick Anatomie-Hall, of the University of Leyden”
This astonishing text lists the manifold objects within the collection, which encompassed human remains, natural history and manmade objects from all over the world. The stark descriptive style of Schuyl’s museum archive list belies the curious and often grotesque and sinister nature of the artefacts it describes. Many are connected with macabre stories, imbued with the mystique of foreign climes or are fantastical to the point of fiction. The catalogue lists the items in their order of display, so the exhibits of each room or cabinet are listed consecutively rather than ordered by theme as so:
- 53 The Skin of a Man dreffed like Parchement
- 54 A Sea Dog
- 55 An arm, legg, & the fkull of a Thief that was hang’d
- 56 The Effigis of a Prufian Pefan, who Swallow’d a Knife ten inches Long, which was cut out of his stomack, & he lived Eight Years afterwards
- 57 A great Unicorn
One can imagine these objects and relics displayed side by side on wooden shelves. In this period museum practice was not concerned with drawing together exhibits by historical or critical theme in the way it is today. Instead, the museum was the site of wonder; of spectacle and magic, of the ecstatic mysteries of the unknown world. In the 17th century, the world held mysteries and fascinations beyond anything we can imagine in our age of instant information and communication.Image: Gemma Coyle
As well as wonder, there is horror too. The manipulation of objects – particularly human remains – was undertaken in the spirit of the macabre, as was the collection of artefacts pertaining to the darkest and bloodiest sins. The following selections from the catalogue illustrate the bloodthirsty side to the collection:
- 1 A French Noble-man who ravish’d his fifter, an afterwards murthered her, and was beheaded at Paris, and given to the Anatomie, by de Bils
- 7 The Sceleton of an Affe upon which fit’s a Woman that killed her Daughters Child
- 42 A Modell of a Murthering-Knife found in Engeland. Whereon was written Kill the dogs burn the bitches, and roast the whelps
It is important to note that the only available bodies for dissection and study were those of executed criminals, in part explaining why these crimes were listed along with the objects. It is also clear though, that the anatomists working on these remains had a slightly macabre and humorous take on their display. The terrifying description of a ‘murdering-knife’ above is an apt example of the kind of narrative pull an object can have. Even in description this tells a story and is suggestive of a raw violence and malicious intent that would have given viewers a shudder of unease just as it does for us today when we contemplate the printed record of this museum of curiosities.
This is an exhibition of text, but as you view it you will experience both the subtly feminine aesthetic of Coyle’s work and strong and often disturbing imagery. This is the result of the vivid interplay between word, object and the vital capacity of the mind to imagine history.
Source: Peter Potter Gallery
- The exhibition by Gemma Coyle: 88 This may be seen in the entrance continues until 23 March 2013.
- The Peter Potter Gallery is a vibrant contemporary art organisation which brings together diverse disciplines to explore what contemporary art is and could be – art, archaeology, music, poetry, craft, coffee, history, ecology and cake.
- 2012, saw the gallery take a leap into pastures new under the directorship of Arabella Harvey and Kate Sloan. Funding was secured to undertake a year long project entitled Lost Landscapes which had a strong archaeological and ecological output and saw artists, archaeologists and ecologists, working with community organisations and schools.
- Now, in 2013 a new project has begun entitled Monument and once again archaeology will feature as a major element.
- If you live in East Lothian and would like to get involved in the two archaeological digs on offer please email David Connolly for more information at: email@example.com
The reported destruction of two important manuscript collections by Islamist rebels as they fled Timbuktu is an offence to the whole of Africa and its universally important cultural heritage. Like their systematic destruction of 300 Sufi saints’ shrines while they held Timbuktu at their mercy, it is an assault on world heritage comparable with the demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban in 2001.
The literary heritage of Timbuktu dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries when the gold-rich kingdoms of Mali and Songhai traded across the Sahara with the Mediterranean world. It took two months for merchant caravans to cross the desert, and while gold and slaves went north, books were going south.
In his Description of Africa, published in 1550, the traveller Leo Africanus marvels that in the bustling markets of Timbuktu, under the towers of its majestic mosques, the richest traders were booksellers.
They were selling manuscripts by Arab scholars on everything from astronomy and arithmetic to Islamic law, as well as mystical texts on Sufism, the otherworldly, saintly style of faith that the al-Qaida-affiliated Ansar Dine finds so offensive.
This legacy of Arab learning that goes back to the great scientists and mathematicians who preserved the classical Greek heritage in the early middle ages is richly represented in the manuscripts of Timbuktu – but not necessarily in its original form. For scribes copied and recopied books in this city that loved leaning, creating a legacy of works transcribed in the 18th and 19th centuries as well as earlier.
They also wrote down their own history and laws, chronicling the families of Timbuktu and preserving the poetry and stories of north Africa – at least, that is what seems to have lain in the many manuscripts of Timbuktu’s lost legacy that were just starting to be properly conserved when this terrible religious vandalism plagued the city.
When European empires scrambled for Africa in the 19th century the continent was seen as illiterate and lacking in history, memory, or literature. Its art was seen as “primitive”, partly because it lacked a written art history.
Timbuktu is a palimpsest in the sand that proves otherwise. Libraries like the Ahmed Baba institute were rescuing Africa’s history from oblivion. Timbuktu is Africa’s city of books and learning that disproved racist myths about the continent. That luminous inheritance is what the Islamists have destroyed.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
One of the primary goals of Temple University doctoral student Deirdre Kelleher’s current archaeology project is to engage the public of Philadelphia in the process of digging up old treasures, even if these treasures are old pot fragments and bottles.Public Involvement
Her excavation at the nationally historic site Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia — popularly known as “America’s oldest continuously occupied residential street” — has been undertaken within full view of block residents and visitors to the historic site’s museum, and it is even being conducted with the help of volunteers.
“I see the history of Elfreth’s Alley as the history of everyday man: It is everyone’s history,” said Kelleher. “By offering volunteers the opportunity to become actively involved in the excavation, they are essentially reclaiming their history and taking part in the past.”
Her work is part a movement known as “public archaeology.” According to Kelleher, it’s an idea that’s gaining momentum in the United States, but having volunteers trained and actually participating in an excavation as she does at Elfreth’s Alley is still outside the norm — as is having it all take place at an active museum.
“At our site, museum visitors are always passing by as we perform the excavation. Sometimes they return to see how we are doing or to volunteer. It’s a way for them to really start to embrace their history,” she said.
Kelleher’s research is among the first archaeology projects in Philadelphia specifically intended to understand the experience of 19th Century immigrants.
Located in Old City, Philadelphia, Elfreth’s Alley was first built in 1702-04 as a cart way between Second Street and the Riverfront, connecting the thoroughfare to the smiths and mills along the Delaware River.
Kelleher has been excavating areas behind two of the alley’s 18th century houses where extensions in the form of tenements had been built in the 19th century. Although those structures have now been demolished, finds from the site provide clues about the day-to-day lives of the working class Irish and German immigrants who once resided in them.
Artefacts include pipe stems, buttons, bottles, straight pins, ceramics, animal bones, lice combs, stove ball and claw feet, and architectural features, etc.
From these finds Kelleher is trying to determine to what extent the residents participated in the temperance/abstinence movements of their day and what access they had to economic mobility.More information about Tin Glazed Ceramics can be found here Ongoing work
The work on the dig took place all summer, sometimes in 100 degree temperatures, but that was the easy part. Now they all meet in Temple’s Anthropology Lab to process the items found during the fieldwork. The group will return to Elfreth’s Alley in the summer of 2013 to continue digging and others are welcome to join them.
“Archaeologists typically don’t conduct their digs in homes where people are currently living. But that added an interesting dimension to the work: as they researched how people lived centuries ago where people were still living,” she said.
Through that experience, Kelleher realized that working both at Elfreth’s Alley and with the public was something she wanted to continue.
So many of Philadelphia’s historic sites focus on the earlier colonial times. But it’s important not to overlook the 19th century and the working class in Philadelphia. Being able to look into the tenements behind the alley gives us a new window into that life.
When her project is complete, Kelleher’s findings will be displayed in an exhibit at the Elfreth’s Alley Museum. In the meantime, her experiences on her Elfreth’s Alley dig are chronicled for the public in the blog, “Archeology on the Alley.”
Source: Temple University
French and Malian troops retook control of Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on Monday after Islamist rebel occupiers fled the ancient Sahara trading town and torched several buildings, including a priceless manuscript library.
The United States and European Union are backing a French-led intervention in Mali aimed at removing the threat of radical Islamist jihadists using the West African state’s inhospitable desert north as a springboard for international attacks.
The recovery of Timbuktu followed the swift capture by French and Malian forces at the weekend of Gao, another major town in Mali’s north that had also been occupied by the alliance of Islamist militant groups since last year.
Read more : www.reuters.com
In the ancient Egyptian city Tebtunis, 2,200 years ago, people voluntarily entered into slave contracts with the local temple for all eternity and they even paid a monthly fee for the privilege. Egyptologist Kim Ryholt from the University of Copenhagen is the first researcher who has studied this puzzling phenomenon.
“I am your servant from this day onwards, and I shall pay 2½ copper-pieces every month as my slave-fee before Soknebtunis, the great god.” This is a translation of a formulaic pledge found in a hundred papyrus slave contracts from the temple city of Tebtunis.
University of Copenhagen Egyptologist Kim Ryholt is the first researcher to have analysed these collectively in his recent article “A Self-Dedication Addressed to Anubis – Divine Protection against Malevolent Forces or Forced Labour?” from the forthcoming publication Lotus and Laurel – Studies on Egyptian Language and Religion.
Today, it is difficult to comprehend why anybody would voluntarily join the ranks of the temple slaves and even pay the temple a monthly fee. But when you translate the contracts, which were written in the ancient Egyptian language Demotic, a plausible explanation surfaces:
“90 per cent of the people who entered into these slave contracts were unable to name their fathers, although this was normally required. They were presumably children of prostitutes. This is a clear indication that they belonged to the lower classes which the king could subject to forced labour, for example digging canals, if he so desired. However, we know from other contemporary records that temple slaves were exempt from forced labour,” says Kim Ryholt.
“Many therefore chose to live as temple slaves because it was the only way of avoiding the harsh and possibly even deadly alternative; the temple was simply the lesser of two evils for these people. And for the temples, this was a lucrative practice that gave them extra resources and money.”Avoiding forced labour
The possibility of avoiding forced labour by entering into slave contracts with temples was limited to a 60-year-period – from roughly 190 BC to 130 BC. There is no indication that the practice existed in any other period in ancient Egypt; probably because the royal family could not, in the long run, afford to yield that many resources to the temples.
The papyrus slave contracts were found in a rubbish dump next to the Tebtunis temple during illicit excavations and were subsequently scattered across Egypt, Europe and the United States. So it has taken Kim Ryholt years to collect and analyse the contracts.
“The Papyrus Carlsberg Collection at the University of Copenhagen contains a large number of contracts, but many are fragmentary, and in order to study the whole material I have had to visit many other collections where there would be a chance to find Tebtunis contracts, including the British Museum, university collections in New Haven, Michigan and Florence, and not least Tebtunis itself where I participate in the modern excavations. In some cases, a contract might be physically divided between, for instance, Copenhagen and the British Museum, and the fragments are then scanned and put together virtually on the computer,” Mr. Ryholt explained.
Source: University of Copenhagen
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