EAMENA were excited to see that the Queen’s Speech on 18 May 2016 contained a promise to pass the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts Bill). This important piece of legislation will allow the UK (finally) to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict, and both of its Protocols (1954 and 1999).
The International Conference for the History and Archaeology of Jordan (ICHAJ) occurs once every three years. It brings together the numerous teams working in Jordan in a forum to present their research, but also to discuss the challenges arising in the field. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Ethics in Archaeology’.
We took part in a UNESCO-sponsored international round table held in the UNITAR offices in Geneva on 11 December 2015.
The scope of the round table, which included 15 participants (plus Justine Mackinnon of the Qatar Computing Research Institute via Skype conference call), was to discuss strategies for the integration of current crowdsourcing and mapping projects to aid Yemeni authorities in their efforts to monitor and assess damage to the country’s endangered cultural heritage.
Presenters at the inaugural Protecting the Past conference were invited to attend a personal tour of Umm el-Jimal and aspects of its hinterland by Bert De Vries, Muwaffaq Hazza and Bernhard Lucke on Sunday 27 September.
This week EAMENA’s Andrea Zerbini is co-organiser (with the Department of Antiquities and others) of a conference at the Museum of Jordan in Amman – Protecting the Past. Archaeology , Conservation and Tourism in the North of Jordan. Its purpose is to highlight and promote discussion of threats to cultural heritage sites, as well as to develop strategies aimed at their preservation.
I want to consider the two extremes of endangered archaeology. On the one hand, we have the headline-grabbing destruction of part of a World Heritage Site, whilst on the other there is natural erosion and people going about their everyday lives, oblivious to what lies right under their feet (or, in this case tyres).
Friday 24 July is the ‘Day of Archaeology’, where archaeologists describe their working day to ‘help show the world why archaeology is vital to protect the past and inform our futures’. And today (Tuesday 21st July) it’s my turn to write a blog post for my Project! So who am I, and what do I do?
On behalf of the EAMENA project, I recently attended a symposium at UCL on the site of Jericho (Digging up Jericho: Past, Present & Future, 29th – 30th June 2015, http://npaph.com/symposium/). Research at this site has been carried out since the late 19th century, under the auspices of the Palestine Exploration Fund from the 1860s-70s and then later by individuals such as Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger, John Garstang and possibly most famously Kathleen Kenyon in the mid-20th century. More recently excavations at the site have been carried out by a joint Italian-Palestinian team.
The purpose of the EAMENA project is not only to identify and record damage to archaeological sites but also, ultimately, to make that information available through an open-access database. With that in mind, the construction of the database has been a primary concern since the project started, and over the past few weeks in particular, the team has had several discussions, both formal and informal, about our vision for it.
The two previous blog entries have looked at ways in which we at EAMENA are mapping archaeological sites, whether extant or now destroyed, by analysing satellite imagery and historical aerial photographs. With tens of thousands of sites already recorded in the span of four months across Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, these techniques are proving incredibly successful in documenting the cultural landscape of the MENA region.