What Is Protecting the Past?

Protecting the Past (PtP) is the international conference and workshop series initiated and organised by the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East & North Africa (EAMENA) Project in cooperation with international and regional partners in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, including ICCROM-Sharjah and Global Heritage Fund (GHF). Videos from PtP 2018 are available on YouTube.


Protecting the Past 2019, Agadir, Morocco, 10- 13 December 2019

The conference is jointly organised by the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project (Universities of Oxford, Leicester, and Durham), Global Heritage Fund (GHF), and the ICCROM-ATHAR Regional Conservation Centre in Sharjah. The conference is in partnership with Souss-Massa Region of Morocco, the University of Ibn Zohr, Institut National des Sciences de l’Archéologie et du Patrimoine (I.N.S.A.P.), and Centre of Jacques-Berque (CJB), and Bonzai Agency. The event will take place at the University of Ibn Zohr in Agadir, Morocco at the Amphithéâtre, Faculté de médecine d’Agadir (Avenue Tamsoult, Quartier Tilila, Agadir 80000) from Tuesday 10th December to Thursday 12th December 2019.

Provisional Programme of PtP 2019

In its previous editions, the Protecting the Past series has emphasised the importance of documentation as a tool for heritage protection, conservation, and management in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In 2019, Protecting the Past will explore how heritage professionals and institutions can work together with individuals and communities in the protection, conservation, and recovery of cultural heritage to which they are socially or spatially connected, and in decision-making processes about this heritage. 

The conference will also seek the role and place of cultural heritage in society, as well as the way it is perceived and interpreted by local communities in the MENA region. Documentation has a pivotal place in shaping our understanding and appreciation of cultural heritage. However, in the age of digital documentation and in the face of rapidly changing technologies, the question is how local communities in the MENA region are benefiting from new technologies for documentation, interpretation, protection and conservation of their local heritage, and how these tools are responding to local needs. 

Cultural heritage has been taken into consideration by several international and regional funding programmes, such as the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, for research, protection, and conservation, which has allowed MENA countries to undertake action to revive their national or local heritage. PtP 2019 examines how these programmes have been successful in exchanging knowledge and expertise among local heritage stakeholders in the region, and to what extent they have empowered the local community of professionals through state-of-the-art heritage management approaches and tools to achieve sustainable heritage protection. The conference would like to promote those successful heritage programmes whose impact has not been limited to technical assistance but which have also been able to increase trust and create a better understanding among communities across the region through heritage protection.

Understanding, valuing, protecting, conserving, and enjoying cultural heritage is a participatory process which needs the involvement of the public sector as well as private stakeholders, civil society, and youth. Partnerships in the cultural heritage sector can bridge the existing gaps between public entities and other heritage stakeholders, and offer opportunities to develop capacities, transfer knowledge, and benefit local communities.

This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the 1960 Agadir earthquake, one of the deadliest and most destructive earthquakes in the history of Morocco. The conference will take this opportunity to address the role of the local community in recovery and resilience of cultural heritage; a very pertinent theme considering the scale of heritage destruction by armed conflict and natural hazards, and the emerging need for recovery and reconstruction of impacted historic cities and heritage places.