Ephesus inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List

“Ephesus inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List”

by Ozgure Tore via “FTN News

Ephesus library

The World Heritage Committee this afternoon approved the inscription of Ephesus in Turkey and three other sites on the World Heritage List. Besides Ephesus, sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining in Japan, Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System in Mexico, and Fray Bentos Cultural-Industrial Landscape in Uruguay are approved.

The Committee also approved the extension of Spain’s Routes of Santiago de Compostela with the addition of the “Camino Francés and Routes of Northern Spain”.

The new sites are:

Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining (Japan)—The site encompasses a series of eleven properties, mainly located in the southwest of Japan. It bears testimony to the rapid industrialization of the country from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century, through the development of the steel industry, shipbuilding and coal mining. The site illustrates the process by which feudal Japan sought technology transfer from Europe and America from the middle of the 19th century and how this technology was adapted to the country’s needs and social traditions. The site testifies to what is considered to be the first successful transfer of Western industrialization to a non-Western nation.

Ephesus (Turkey)—Located within what was once the estuary of the River Kaystros, Ephesus comprises successive Hellenistic and Roman settlements founded on new locations, which followed the coastline as it retreated westward. Excavations have revealed grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period including the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre. Little remains of the famous Temple of Artemis, one of the “Seven Wonders of the World,” which drew pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean. Since the 5th century, the House of the Virgin Mary, a domed cruciform chapel seven kilometres from Ephesus, became a major place of Christian pilgrimage. The Ancient City of Ephesus is an outstanding example of a Roman port city, with sea channel and harbour basin. . . .


UNESCO’s newest World Heritage Sites

“UNESCO’s newest World Heritage Sites”

by Katia Hetter via “CNN News

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has added 24 new spots and 3 significant extensions to the UNESCO World Heritage List and three spots to its List of World Heritage in Danger. Click through the gallery to see some new members of both lists, including the only U.S. site added in 2015 (shown here).

There’s the site where Jesus was believed to have been baptized by John the Baptist. And then there are the spots where French Champagne and Burgundy were born. And you remember the Alamo, part of the San Antonio Missions of Texas?

They are among the 27 newest members of the exclusive UNESCO World Heritage List.

Since Friday, the United Nations’ cultural body has named natural, cultural and combination sites around the world to its prestigious preservation list. The World Heritage List now includes 1,031 natural and cultural wonders that are considered to be places of “outstanding universal value.”

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee had been considering new sites at a meeting in Bonn, Germany, that started June 28.

San Antonio Missions site gets World Heritage status

The inscribed sites of “outstanding universal value” must also meet one or more of 10 criteriasuch as “representing a masterpiece of human creative genius,” containing “exceptional natural beauty” or being an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement.

UNESCO has been adding sites to the World Heritage List since 1978. Nations often spend years developing pitches for inclusion on the list because of its significant cultural cachet and the fame and resources it can attract to sites in need of restoration and protection. They must convince the UNESCO committee that they will protect their sites and support them financially.  . . .


Cultural Policy Center, Smithsonian co-host workshop on cultural heritage protection

“Cultural Policy Center, Smithsonian co-host workshop on cultural heritage protection”

by Rebecca A. Clay

Last month, researchers, policymakers and practitioners gathered in Washington, D.C. to explore how to preserve culture in the age of ISIS and other threats. The University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center and the Smithsonian Institution convened the group of experts on cultural heritage protection.

Speaking at the workshop, U.S. Army archaeologist Laurie Rush said, for U.S. soldiers, protecting cultural heritage isn’t only focused on official repositories for artifacts, such as a museum. Sometimes their assignments take them to places far from city centers.

To outsiders, the pomegranate orchard in a tiny village in the remotest reaches of Afghanistan’s Helmand Province wouldn’t look like anything special. But the U.S. soldiers approaching the orchard noticed that the walls around it were painted blue, an indication that they surrounded something sacred. It turned out that the courtyard held a shrine containing a dagger once carried by a friend of the prophet Mohammed and was a site of weekly pilgrimage for villagers from the entire region.

“Is this going to be on any list of world heritage sites? No,” said Rush. But, she added, sparing cultural property from destruction goes beyond safety precautions for soldiers. “It offers a form of stability that helps communities in conflict recover in the long run.”

“Cultural heritage has become very contentious in situations of conflict,” said Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian’s under secretary for history, art and culture. “But cultural heritage can also be used to help bring people together.” This was the inspiration for the daylong workshop and public event that sought to identify research needs as well as intersections for interdisciplinary collaboration in this critical cultural policy area.

Protecting cultural heritage during war is an important priority. The United States is a party to the 1954 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. That doesn’t mean a commander can protect cultural property if doing so is not a military priority, said Rush. But, she added, “the better prepared our soldiers are in terms of their ability to identify and respect cultural property, the more likely they are going to come home safe and sound.”

Fulfilling the goals of the 1954 convention requires partnership between the military and academia, said Rush, a board member of the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield, a nonprofit, non-government organization dedicated to the prevention of destruction and theft of cultural property during conflict.

She urged academics not to share privileged information, noting that comments by scholars about the use of satellite imagery to assess whether or not ISIS was destroying cultural property actually pushed the extremists to destroy what they had previously only pretended to destroy.

“And don’t perpetuate myths, Rush continued. Take the Bamiyan Buddhas, for example. Even among scholars, said Rush, there’s a common misunderstanding that the Buddhas were destroyed because they had human faces. “In actuality they were destroyed to demoralize the Hazara people of the Bamiyan valley,” she said, explaining that the Taliban paid engineers to ensure the empty niches remained standing.


First UN conference on tourism and culture opens in Cambodia, seeks to build partnerships

“First UN conference on tourism and culture opens in Cambodia, seeks to build partnerships”

via UN.org 

Statues on the Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap Cambodia. Photo: UNESCO

4 February 2015 – Aimed at bringing together Ministers of Tourism and Ministers of Culture to identify key opportunities and challenges for stronger cooperation between the fields, two United Nations agencies launched the First World Conference on Tourism and Culture today in the shadow of the legendary Angkor Wat temple, in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The Conference, run by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aims to address the overlap between culture and tourism, tackling the question of how to harness the power of tourism and culture to alleviate poverty, create jobs, protect natural and cultural heritage and promote international understanding.

“Today, cultural tourism – the world’s mosaic of art forms, heritage sites, festivals, traditions, and pilgrimages – is growing at an unprecedented rate,” said Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General. “Humanity’s curiosity about cultural heritage is the element that truly differentiates one destination from another.”

Mr. Rifai described the growth of international tourism since the 1950s and the socio-economic contribution made by tourism, accounting for one out of every 11 jobs worldwide, as well as contributing nine per cent to global gross domestic product (GDP) and 30 per cent contribution to total global exports.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, joined Mr. Rifai in looking forward to building a new, sustainable partnership that unites tourism and culture and said her goal was to create a positive mutually reinforcing dynamic between the two, working to build sustainability and to benefit local communities.

“Our starting point is to safeguard culture under all its forms, from monuments to living heritage, encompassing traditions, festivals and the performing arts,” said Ms. Bokova. We do so, because culture is who we are. It shapes our identity and is a means to foster respect and tolerance among people.”

She underlined the need to safeguard cultural heritage while moving ahead with sustainable tourism and said she believed that was the Conference’s core message, citing that vision as the route to promoting culture as a driver and enabler of sustainable development.

Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism, Thong Khon, also welcomed delegates, looking forward to the event’s contribution to sustainable conservation and development of tourism and culture.


Cubans Petition UN to Make Rumba Part of World’s Cultural Heritage

“Cubans Petition UN to Make Rumba Part of World’s Cultural Heritage”

by Michael Voss via CCTV


“People in Havana are working to preserve the older style of the Latin classic dance Rumba as a part of the world’s cultural heritage.

At this year’s week-long annual Timbalaye Rumba Festival in Havana, the organizers are petitioning the United Nations to have the music and dance form recognized as part of the world’s cultural heritage.

The festival also includes music classes and dance workshops. The roots of Rumba go back to the era of slavery, remain an integral part of Santeria, the Afro religion which is still widely practiced on the island.

Music and dance are an integral part of life in Cuba, and the Rumba is a core part of that. . . .”