Terracing

The creation of new terraces to expand agricultural land, or for development, is often extremely destructive for archaeological sites as the area is bulldozed flat, removing most, if not all, traces of sites and features. Figure 1 show tombs in the hills around the Greco-Roman World Heritage city of Cyrene in July 2007 (Copyright: Nichole…

Orchards

The planting of an orchard can cause damage in two ways. Some orchards are composed of trees planted in individual holes a metre deep, destroying the upper level of the site in that area. Other orchards contain very small trees, but need the area to be cleared. As the trees grow, the roots will interconnect,…

Grazing / Trampling

Animal trampling moves and breaks artefacts, and affects their visibility by churning up dust. Animals can also cause damage to stone-built structures, increasing the likelihood of collapse. However, grazing can be beneficial. During the conflict in Libya in 2011, shepherds were encouraged to graze their animals on the World Heritage Site of Leptis Magna in…

Channel Irrigation

Many modern methods of agriculture require some form of irrigation in order to meet the needs of an increasing population. One method is to dig large trenches that are lined with concrete to channel the water from dams. This water is then siphoned off into the fields using smaller concrete-lined channels and ultimately small channels…

Centre Pivot Irrigation

Many modern methods of agriculture require some form of irrigation in order to meet the needs of an increasing population. One method is called centre pivot irrigation. Water is pumped from a depth of up to 1km to the surface and distributed via a large centre pivot irrigation feed (Figure 1). The large circular fields…

Re-use of Ancient Structures

Many ancient structures are repurposed in modern times, as they have been for centuries. For example, the World Heritage Site of the castle in Durham, England, is also a hall of residence for the local University students. However, this sort of use has a management plan, and alterations are conducted in a manner fitting to…

Looting

Illegal excavation refers to the digging of illegal holes on a site, usually to loot and sell any objects found. Some holes are shallow, or only a few metres deep, but sometimes looters bring bulldozers or other earth-moving machinery which destroys walls and other features. They then sift the dirt for objects to sell. Looting…

Explosives

Explosives can have horrific effects on ancient sites. The city of Aleppo in Syria is a World Heritage site, and has become a centre of fighting. The minaret of the Great Mosque is more than 1000 years old (Figure 1). Figure 1 (left): The minaret of the Great Mosque, Aleppo, Syria, 2011. (Copyright: Emesik, 2011)…

Deliberate Vandalism

The intentional damage and destruction of cultural heritage unfortunately occurs in North Africa and the Middle East. This is exemplified at Wadi Mathandusch in Libya, where Late Prehistoric rock art has been damaged by bullets (Figure 1). Figure 1: rock art at Wadi Mathandusch, Libya (Copyright: Andrew Wilson)