TARMAC Northern's submission of a revised planning application to quarry land near the Thornborough henges ancient monument site increases the stakes in this long-running saga.
The company has already appealed against North Yorkshire County Council's refusal of the original application to quarry 45 hectares. This new application - for 31 hectares - is Tarmac's tactical fall-back position. If it can't have the whole site, seeking permission for a lesser area may be a means of dealing with some of the conservation/archaeological objections. It perhaps is also a signal of the company's intention to take this battle to the next stage - a legal one - should the Government planning inspector dismiss Tarmac's appeal.
The pressure is unquestionably stepped up on the county council, which will in due course decide whether to grant the revised application permission. That process will once more concentrate minds on the status of the setting of the henges and to what extent it is critical to the henge complex as a whole. Does the removal of 14 hectares of farmland closest to one of the three henges make a difference to archaeologists who say the monuments are more than the three circular earthworks and that the surrounding landscape is just as important if we are to understand their significance.
Our understanding of the concerns of the county council and English Heritage is that those 14 hectares will not make a great deal of difference to the conservation argument which, taken to its limit, suggests that an even wider area, including the Devil's Arrows at Boroughbridge, is a vast landscape of prehistoric significance.
It is a fiendishly difficult issue for the county council to deal with. The conservationists have already demonstrated how important it is in their eyes. The issue's importance to Tarmac Northern is now also underlined.
12:20pm Friday 28th July 2006
Iran - Ancient Urartian inscription disappears
July 26, 2006
LONDON, July 26 (IranMania) - An inscription of Urartian king Ishpuini (circa 830-810 BC) has disappeared from Baraghaneh Mountain, near Bukan in West Azarbaijan Province, the Persian service of CHN reported.
A team of experts from the Language and Dialect Research Center of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization studying in the region recently discovered that the inscription was not in its place.
The director of the Cultural Heritage Guards of the province said that he had not been informed about the incident.
"The research center dispatched a group in order to film the position of the inscription," research center director Rasul Bashshash said.
"The inscription had been discovered by a team of mountain climbers in 1997, but the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization was only informed about it in 2005," he explained.
The inscription had been written in cuneiform.
Ishpuini was the son of Sarduri I (circa 840-830 BC). Only a few inscriptions about his reign remain in the ancient Urartian capital Tushpa (Turushpa), modern Van in Turkey.
Urartu was an ancient country of Southwest Asia centered in the mountainous region southeast of the Black Sea and southwest of the Caspian Sea.
Today the region is divided among Armenia, eastern Turkey, and northwestern Iran.
Mentioned in Assyrian sources from the early 13th century BC, Urartu enjoyed considerable political power in the Middle East in the 9th and 8th centuries BC. The Urartians were succeeded in the area in the 6th century BC by the Armenians.
Malaysia - Better protection for Sabah's historical monuments and artefacts
15 Aug 2006
Joniston Bangkuai at the Sabah Legislative Assembly
KOTA KINABALU, Tues: SABAH's historical monuments, buildings and artefacts would now be better protected with the approval of an amendment to the Antiquities and Treasure Trove Enactment 1977.
The amendment, among others, provide for a stiffer penalty against offenders and empowering the State Museum Director to appoint enforcement officers.
Those found guilty of destroying or damaging historical monuments or buildings are now liable to a fine not exceeding RM50,000 or imprisonment not exceeding five years or both.
Previously, the penalty for such an offence was a fine of RM2,000 or imprisonment for one year.
The penalty for those found to be in illegal possession of ancient artefacts have been enhanced from a fine of RM1,000 or three times the market value of the antiquity to a fine not exceeding RM50,000 or imprisonment not exceeding five years.
Tabling the Bill for the amendment, Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Karim Bujang said it is now mandatory for ancient monuments or historical sites to be kept in a state of good repair by their owners.
USA - Appeal focuses on protecting ancient sites
By SCOTT SONNER
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
RENO, Nev. -- On the surface, it would be hard to imagine a simpler theft case than the one against John Ligon. Three boulders bearing centuries-old petroglyphs of an archer and bighorn sheep were part of his front yard landscaping. So when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out convictions against the Reno man and a co-defendant, it left prosecutors and archaeologists questioning whether they have any legal weapon to fight what already had been an uphill struggle: Stopping the plunder of unknown thousands of ancient sites.
In asking the court for a rehearing, federal prosecutor Robert Don Gifford said that its March ruling "effectively provides a license to steal" petroglyphs and other artifacts.
Alanah Woody, an anthropologist at the Nevada State Museum and head of the Nevada Rock Art Foundation, said the ruling nullifies widely publicized convictions that had been viewed as a major victory for efforts to protect archaeological resources.
"I don't think the citizens of Reno are happy about the decision," Woody said. "They don't want this to happen anymore."
A three-judge panel of the court did not dispute that Ligon and Carroll Mizell stole the boulders from the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in August 2003.
The problem, the ruling said, was that the government failed to prove two critical points: It didn't show that the artifacts were worth $1,000, or that the defendants knew or should have known they were stealing something of archaeological value.
That's an impossible standard, said Sherry Hutt, a former Superior Court judge from Arizona who manages a Park Service program under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
"Essentially the government must prove the defendant knew this was an archaeological resource and knew the actual scientific benefit - which essentially says only archaeological scientists could be convicted in such a case," she said.
Gifford wrote that the decision "effectively leaves the government without the means to stop the needless, careless, and intentional destruction of archaeological sites and organized and intentional theft of the valuable remains of previous civilizations."
It was unclear when the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit would decide whether to bring the case before the same three-court panel for a rehearing.
It is hard to know how many artifacts have been looted from ancient sites, but the number must be large: The National Park Service alone recorded 11,000 violations in just one year, 2002. Only a tiny fraction of lootings are prosecuted.
The two men in the Nevada case admitted they used a winch to remove the boulders, but insist they didn't know they were breaking the law, partly because no signs marked the site.
A federal jury found them guilty of theft of government property but acquitted them of unlawful excavation of archaeological resources. Ligon was sentenced to two months in jail; Mizell, who then lived in Van Nuys, Calif., was sentenced to four months and ordered to pay $13,169.
U.S. Forest Service officials believe the petroglyphs are at least 1,000 years old, and an agency archaeologist testified they had an archaeological value of about $8,000. William Dancing Feather, cultural resources coordinator for the Washoe Tribe, said the tribe considers them priceless.
Such a valuation is subjective, said Ligon's lawyer Scott Freeman.
"With all due respect to Mr. Dancing Feather, what may be priceless to one person because of their cultural heritage may not be priceless to someone else," he said.
An Arizona art gallery owner appraised the boulders' commercial value at $800 to $900, but said they could have sold for $1,500 had they not been badly scarred when they were removed.
That appraisal, however, was not introduced as evidence, a prosecutorial move criticized by the 9th Circuit.
"It is clear that Ligon and Mizell stole the petroglyphs. It is equally clear that the petroglyphs had a market value," Judge William A. Fletcher wrote.
"But the government did not introduce that report into evidence, or indeed anything else that might have served as evidence of `value' within the meaning of (the law), although it obviously could have done so."
The government said the art dealer's estimate was not submitted because it was not credible, but the defense questions that conclusion.
"The 9th Circuit felt as we did - you've got a value, so use it," said Mizell's lawyer, David Houston.
The standard that looters can be convicted of a felony only if they knew or should have known they were removing an archaeological resource was established by the 9th Circuit in 2000.
The precedent applies only in the court's jurisdiction: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Those states account for a large portion of the nation's ancient sites.
UK - Road plans put Stonehenge status at risk
David Adam, environment correspondent
Wednesday June 14, 2006
Sarah Staniforth, historic properties director with the trust, said the national committee of Unesco, which administers world heritage sites, had reviewed the situation and Stonehenge could be taken off the list because of poor traffic management. The trust's warning comes as ministers prepare to decide what to do to ease congestion on the A303, which passes the ancient stones.
TEHRAN, June 12--A cemetery dating back to the seventh and eighth centuries Hejira in the city of Lamard, Fars province, has been destroyed to make way for apartment construction, reported ISNA.
Archaeologist Iraj Mohammadi said that the ’Fal’ Graveyard in Lamard which was famous for its precious tombstones with Persian and Arabic inscriptions were demolished and a housing project was carried out in that location.
He deplored that the precious tombstones have been scattered in the area and the people living in the newly-built houses do not care for the archaeological significance of materials which were dispersed by bulldozers while preparing the ground for the construction project.
The archeologist said that Fars province’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department had notified Lamard municipal officials about the significance of the ancient graveyard.
“It is surprising that despite earlier notice from ICHTO about the historical significance of the graveyard, city officials have destroyed it smashing the tombstones into pieces carelessly.“
He proposed that the ancient tombstones be collected and put on public display.
Iraq - Priceless Assyrian Relics Used for Target Practice
UNITED NATIONS (IPS) -- Home to some of the most significant standing monuments of ancient Assyria, the Khinnis site in northern Iraq is a historical and cultural hallmark in desperate need of protection, warn Mesopotamian archaeologists and Assyriologists.
A recent expedition to northern Iraq to assess the social, economic and cultural rights of the Assyrian people and other minority groups in Iraq, led by the Washington-based Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project (ISDP), found that the ancient Khinnis site has been thrown open to unfettered tourism and its accompanying ravages.
"When we arrived at the site, there were people and picnickers climbing all over the area, as if it was a jungle gym," ISDP Project Director Michael Youash told IPS. "For us, this is not just a world heritage site -- it tells us who we are, reminds us of where we are from, and what our place in history has been."
Located northeast of ancient Nineveh on the eastern bank of the Tigris River in modern-day Mosul, the almost 2,700-year-old Khinnis site, also known as the Bavian site, highlights the geographical start of a impressive engineering feat of ancient Assyrian culture. It remains important to the Assyrian Christian people of Iraq, historically traceable to the Mesopotamian cradle of civilisation.
Khinnis was part of a large-scale construction work initiated by King Sennacherib, who founded Nineveh as the new capital of the Assyrian Empire in 705 BC. It comprised an aqueduct system by which water could be brought down to the fields and the city of Nineveh.
A gigantic rock relief of King Sennacherib overlooks the Gomel River and the cliff faces are carved with numerous ancient symbols and cuneiform inscriptions that depict the life and events that went on in relation to the water supply.
During the recent trip by ISDP -- a special project launched by the Chicago-based Assyrians Academic Society, with members worldwide -- the delegation not only observed the damage caused by tourism, including visitors having chipped off pieces from the rock carvings, but also noted bullet holes, indicating that the reliefs have been used for target practice.
ISDP further reported that the site faces the threat of dynamiting. According to Firas Jatou, a member of the delegation, Kurdish authorities have ordered a small construction company to use dynamite to carve out caves in the sun-spotted rocks to create shade for the picnickers.
Jatou said the work has been sanctioned by Jarjis Hasan Khinnis, a member of the central committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by the president of the Autonomous Kurdish Government in Iraq, Massoud Barzani.
"One of the workers told us that he was simply doing his job -- that he was contracted to blow out the side of the cliff to create shade," Youash said. "For the workers, it is just a public works project rather than an act of cultural genocide."
"This is just another example of us being treated as second-class citizens. Destroying the site would be a nail in the coffin of the ethnic cleansing of Assyrians in northern Iraq -- our ancestral home," he added.
Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the Assyrian Christian population of Iraq, mostly living in the north, has increasingly become the target of ethnic and religious attacks. According to various sources, they were estimated at around one million before the recent exodus of Assyrians seeking refuge outside the country.
"The Khinnis is a beautiful area and we want all people to be able to come and enjoy the site, but it is worthy of utmost respect," said Yoush. "It is unthinkable in terms of world heritage that it would not be protected and preserved."
McGuire Gibson, an authority on Mesopotamian archaeology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, also stressed the importance of the site. "The reliefs are of great historical and cultural value, in terms of how the Assyrians saw themselves in relation to God and to nature, and they also tell about the relationship of mankind and water," he told IPS.
Before the war, Iraq was one of the best places in the world in terms of preservation and protection of antiquities, Gibson said. And until now, the north has been relatively safe from looters, although a great deal of damage was done to sites in the south, particularly since the U.S. invasion, he said.
"Hundreds of archaeological sites have virtually been destroyed by illegal digging, and if these reliefs at the Khinnis, which have lasted for thousands of years, are finally going to be damaged in the name of tourism, or for whatever reason this is being done, it would be a great tragedy," Gibson said.
The protection of all archaeological sites in Iraq is under the control of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), so they should have been consulted before anything was done at the Khinnis. It is now primary their task to handle the issue and hopefully get on top of the situation, he added.
Last week, Muzahim Mahmud and his team from the SBAH's office in Mosul went to Khinnis to check up on the situation. The delegation reported that while there has been some dynamiting at the site, the sculptures themselves have not been harmed, and the construction work has been confined to the building of a road nearby rather than creating shade for the picnickers, the chairman of SBAH and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Donny George, told IPS.
However, "according to my knowledge, and what I have seen in pictures, there must have been some new shooting, because there has been new chipping on the sculpture," George added, agreeing that Kurdish authorities must take protective measures.
According to the new Iraqi constitution and the Law of Antiquities and Heritage of 2002, the archaeological sites and antiquities of Iraq are the wealth of the country, and they should be handled by the central government in collaboration with the provinces.
"It is our duty to protect the cultural heritage of the people of Iraq, which is also the cultural heritage of mankind, and to preserve it for the coming generations," said George. "But the cooperation with Kurdish authorities controlling the northern region is not functioning, they are not responding to our concerns, which is why we want to rearrange the connection between us -- the central government and the north."
The best way to protect the Khinnis site and the sculptures from further harm is to post guards there, he said. And to ensure this, "We will need to have a bigger delegation going up to the north, to stop any unnecessary acts against antiquities at the Khinnis and at other sites in the region."
But because of the delicate security situation, it is hard to plan things in Baghdad right now -- as it is to protect any sites either in the north or in the south, from looting, attacking, or any other harm, continued George.
"The special patrolling police force that belongs to the SBAH has also had difficulties doing its duties because it lacks cars and communication systems," he said. "It is very important that the international community support Iraq, at least by providing cars and helping us improve the petroleum and the communication systems throughout the country."
By Lisa Söderlindh
UK - Thornborough; New battle looming over the henges
A NEW battle is looming over the quarrying of land close to one of the area's most important ancient sites.
The move comes as no big surprise, as Tarmac had indicated it would appeal after its plans were thrown out in February by a North Yorkshire County Council planning committee. The matter could now end up being resolved at a public inquiry.
Estates manager Bob Nicholson said this week: "We are anxious to safeguard employment and maintain supply from the quarry to the construction industry and in order to do this we have followed the due process of formally lodging an appeal.
“However, we are also discussing the possibility of a revised application for a smaller extraction area at Ladybridge Farm, avoiding the areas which were the subject of archaeological concern.”
Tarmac, which operates Nosterfield Quarry, close to the henge complex, faced fierce opposition from conservation and heritage groups when it applied for permission to quarry a further 112 acres of adjacent land at Ladybridge.
Mr Nicholson said they had a good record of co -operating with the community and various archaeological, environmental and wildlife agencies and added: “We hope to achieve a fair balance, taking account of all interests including continuity of employment and supply of construction materials."
But the Friends of Thornborough group remains unhappy about any further quarrying near the 5,000 year old henges. Spokesman, Dick Lonsdale, said: “If the revised application is for the area which does not contain nationally important archaeology, then the land taken for the amount of sand and gravel to be won would be unacceptable.
“This is the best and most versatile agricultural land and the area of proposed extraction is within the setting of the main prehistoric ritual landscape of the Thornborough Henges.”
The campaign group, TimeWatch, which mounted strong opposition to Tarmac’s original application, has also condemned the firm’s latest move.
"The planning rules say nationally important archaeology must be protected, so Tarmac are determined to prove the archaeologists are wrong - they are appealing against a decision that was backed by English Heritage," said George Chaplin, chairman of TimeWatch.
"The English Heritage defence of Thornborough has been backed to a very high level - the English Heritage executive said in March that Thornborough is a world class heritage site".
Spain - Motorway is threatening an ancient stone circle
The prehistoric stone circle of Moruela (A Coruna, Spain) is seriously threatened by the construction of a motorway. Local protesters are trying to stop its destruction, but roadworks have already started.
In 1929 Federico Macineira, a scholar of Ortegal, published in the file of the Seminary of Galician Studies "Remarkable stone circles and dolmen of the upper Eume river basin", in which he states the existence of two stone circles in the Moruela region, in the municipality of As Pontes, in the province of A Coruna. Almost 100 years later, the CPTOPT (Conselleria de Territorial Politica, Obras Publicas y Vivenda of the Xunta of Galicia) claims in an environmental impact report for the Ferrol-Villalba railcar that is unable to verify the existence of these prehistoric structures.
Several groups tried to obtain money for the excavation of the site, but the study has not been finished and the works of the motorway advance. If you are willing to help the local group of people fighting to save their heritage, extending the term of archaeological excavation at the site, please visit their website at www.amigus.org/mourela.php (in Spanish - a video is available in English) and sign their online petition.
Source: Asociacion Informatica Amigus - As Pontes (29 May 2006)
UK - Ancient hill's holes to be filled
Plans to stabilise the ancient Silbury Hill mound in Wiltshire have been unveiled by English Heritage.
The man-made monument, believed to date to the Neolithic period, developed a hole t the top five years ago after the collapse of infilling in a shaft.
There are proposals to remove an inadequate backfill from this and other cavities and replace it with chalk.
English Heritage said it would preserve the long-term stability of the hill while minimising further damage.
Surveys have confirmed that the overall structure is stable, although there are pockets of instability resulting from tunnels dug in 1776, 1849 and 1968.
English Heritage is drawing up a brief for contractors to come forward with their proposals for how the work should be done.
The organisation is also looking at how to fund the project.
Regional director Bob Bewley said: "If all goes to plan we're probably looking at some small amount of work during 2006 and then it'll probably happen in the summer of 2007."But that's all dependent on what we find when we do further analysis and investigations, when we talk to the possible contractors and the big 64,000-dollar question is finding the money."
Bulgaria - Orpheus Sanctuary Damaged Yet Again
Lifestyle: 26 May 2006, Friday.
The Rhodopes sanctuary where the tomb of mythical Orpheus is supposed to eb located awoke Friday with serious damages in the rock.
The guard of the site found that a 20cm-long part of the rock was torn out and immediately alarmed police.
According to an initial version, a lightening might have caused the damage, as the same night there was a storm.
However, police investigates a possible foray on the ancient sanctuary serving as a magnate for many people believing a gold treasure lies beneath the rock.
Archeologists have repeatedly called to official institutions and donors to help for the survival of the unique megalith complex, otherwise unprotected it would turn into ruins.
During last summer's torrential rains, the construction, which is made of limestone, showed up first signs of irreparable damages.
It is believed the sanctuary of Tatul flourished for more than two thousand years in ancient times. It is probably the largest temple in the area, only second after the nearby sanctuary of Dionysus in Perperikon.
China - "pyramids" in danger of collapsing: report
Wed May 31, 2006 2:51 AM ET
BEIJING (Reuters) - Tombs almost 1,000 years old in western China -- known as the "pyramids of the east" -- are in danger of collapse due to natural erosion and man-made damage, Chinese state television said on Wednesday.
The Western Xia Tombs, in the poor, remote region of Ningxia, house the remains of kings of an empire that once stretched to the borders of Tibet and developed its own complex written script based, like Chinese, on pictographs.
But years of wind, rain and neglect of the state-protected site has left holes up to two meters (yards) deep in the structures, which resemble miniature versions of Egypt's pyramids, the report said.
"The tombs are in imminent danger of collapse and urgently need to be saved," it said, adding that a 10-meter-long wall had already crumbled.
The tombs, spread out on a plain near an air force base outside the regional capital, are less preserved and protected than more famous sites, such as the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Many of their treasures were looted years if not centuries ago.
All that is left now are a few artifacts in a dingy museum and the dusty remains of the
Armenia - World watches in silence as Azerbaijan wipes out Armenian culture
Western governments have failed to condemn the destruction of a unique medieval cemetery by Azerbaijani soldiers
By Lucian Harris | Posted 25 May 2006
Armenia says the Christian cemetery of Jugha, dating from the ninth to 16th centuries, has been completely destroyed by Azerbaijani soldiers.
LONDON. A delegation of European members of Parliament was last month refused access to Djulfa, in the Nakhichevan region of Azerbaijan, to investigate reports that an ancient Armenian Christian cemetery has been destroyed by Azerbaijani soldiers.
The delegation of ten MEPs from the commission on EU-Armenia parliamentary co-operation travelled to Armenia on 17 April following a resolution passed by the EP’s conference of presidents on 6 April. An EP spokesman told The Art Newspaper that when the party tried to enter Nakhichevan, it was “opposed by the Azerbaijan authorities”.
This was despite the Muslim country’s outright denial that the cemetery has been destroyed—and despite the fact that Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe and thus committed to respecting cultural heritage.
According to witnesses, as quoted in Armenian reports, in a three-day operation last December, Azerbaijani soldiers armed with sledgehammers obliterated the remnants of the Djulfa cemetery (known as Jugha in Armenian). Until the early 20th century it contained around 10,000 khachkars, dedicatory monuments unique to medieval Armenian culture.
They are typically carved with a cross surrounded by intricate interlacing floral designs.
A great number of khachkars, the majority of which date from the 15th to 16th centuries, were destroyed in 1903-04 during the construction of a railway, and by the early 1970s only 2,707 were recorded.
Armenian culture has always had a precarious existence sandwiched between Russia and the Islamic spheres of Turkey and Iran. The Armenians are still fighting to get acknowledgement of the genocide of their people by the Ottoman Turks which reached its peak in 1915.
After 1921, when the southern enclaves of Nakhichevan and Nagorno Karabakh were absorbed into Soviet Azerbaijan, many Armenians fled the area and much of their cultural heritage was destroyed. By the late 1980s when the Soviet Union crumbled, less than 4,000 Armenians remained in Nakhichevan—so few that the exclave avoided the ethnic warfare that exploded in Karabakh where a larger Armenian population remained under the administration of Muslim Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani army began clearing the Jugha cemetery in 1998, removing 800 of the khachkars before complaints by Unesco brought a temporary halt.
But the destruction commenced again in November 2002, and by the time the incident was written up by Icomos in its World Report on Monuments and Sites in Danger for that year, the 1500-year-old cemetery was described as “completely flattened”. It is not clear exactly how many khachkars were left, but on 14 December 2005, witnesses in Armenian reports said that soldiers had demolished the remaining stones, loading them onto trucks and dumping them in the river, actions that were filmed from across the river in Iran by an Armenian Film crew, and aired on the Boston-based online television station Hairenik.
Ireland - Land of High Kings is battlefield for fight between heritage and growth
Protests over plan to route four-lane motorway through historic sites
Owen Bowcott, Ireland correspondent
Tuesday May 30, 2006
The panoramic view from the Hill of Tara reputedly encompasses half the counties of Ireland. Windswept, grass ramparts enclose the ancient seat of the country's High Kings. Nearby stands the Mound of the Hostages, a megalithic passage tomb.
Soon a four-lane motorway, speeding traffic in and out of Dublin, will bulldoze its way through the landscape below the Iron Age earthworks.
The first scars are already visible as archaeologists investigate the lush Gowra valley for the remains of a civilisation whose monuments pre-date many Egyptian pyramids. Unless survey teams uncover a new site of "national archaeological importance", the controversial, government-backed route through County Meath is likely to go ahead.
The row over construction of the M3 has set Ireland's marginalised, heritage lobby at odds with the republic's newfound prosperity and the drive to upgrade its outdated infrastructure. It has also highlighted Ireland's increasing reliance on the car.
The row is now entering a more embittered phase. Construction of the 36-mile road, connecting Clonee, on Dublin's congested outskirts, to Kells, north-west of the capital, was scheduled to begin early this month. The national roads authority (NRA) is blaming legal action by environmental protesters for delays costing €1m (£680,000) a week and for the number of fatal car crashes attributable to the unmodernised road.
No date has yet been set for an appeal to the supreme court over the disputed route, and the NRA has cautioned its preferred tenderer, the Eurolink consortium, not to start work until court proceedings are completed. If the case goes to Europe, it could take years.
Vincent Salafia, a Dublin lawyer fighting the Tara M3 case, denied his action had caused delays. He said he could be amenable to "mediation" if "an independent archaeological expert [was] appointed to determine whether the M3 passes through the greater national monument of Tara [or] if any of the 38 sites [already unearthed constitute] national monuments in their own right".
He lost his case in the high court.
"The government is saying the Tara monument is just the tip of the hill," he told the Guardian. "But there are outer defensive forts which are all part of a large, single [complex]. We want to force [the road] to move further away.
A route further out to the west would be better."
The issue has rocketed up the domestic political agenda as the economy has boomed and Dublin's commuter belt has expanded far out into the Irish midlands.
Tara is barely 30 miles from the capital but car journeys can take several hours at peak traffic times.
Ireland has not experienced direct action protests against road building but the campaign has attracted celebrity support, notably from the Hollywood actress Charlize Theron and her Irish partner, Stuart Townsend.
Muireann Ni Bhrolochain, a university lecturer in Celtic studies at Maynooth, is one of the leading opponents. "Tara is one of the premier sites in Europe," she said. "Some of the tombs date back 4,000 years and the hill was used by the High Kings of all Ireland until 1200AD.
I'm not anti-roads but we have the opportunity to learn from mistakes in other countries," she said.
Given the success of single issue candidates in Ireland's proportional representation system, there has been talk of an anti-M3 candidate at the general election anticipated next year. Several opposition parties, including Sinn Féin and the Green party, have backed the campaign.
The Labour party's environment spokesman, Eamon Gilmore, described the route as a "betrayal of the country's Celtic heritage that will result in the destruction of the Tara landscape".
Many question why the existing freight railway line, from nearby Navan via Drogheda to Dublin, has not been improved to relieve congestion.
"The government said it would take until 2015 to [rebuild] the direct line from Navan to Dublin [closed in the 1960s]," said a local campaigner, Proinsas MacFheargus. "But that railway was begun in 1859 and finished in 1862. So nowadays it would take three times as long to build?
They won't open up the line because it would conflict with the motorway's tolling arrangements."
Julitta Clancy, of the Meath Historical Society, did not join the legal action because the costs would have put her at risk of losing her home. "We went through the planning process and found it very frustrating," she said. "There was no remedy. We tried to persuade the government that the road could be moved, producing a better transport and heritage solution.
We have petitioned the European parliament on the rights of litigants to oppose infrastructure projects. The delays to the road are not due to us but to the fact that the route picked was rich in archaeology. These sites are part of our European collective memory.
We have asked for independent monitoring of the excavations. At present if they find anything in the valley ... it's the NRA that decides whether it's a national monument."
The M3 will also slice through Dalgan Park, headquarters of the St Columban Missionaries in the Gowra valley.
Indonesia - Tremor strikes ancient temple
Prambanan, Indonesia, May 28 (AP): Yesterday’s deadly earthquake in Indonesia badly damaged the world renowned Prambanan temple complex, sending intricate carved reliefs crashing to the ground and destroying years of restoration work in under a minute.
The temple — a vivid example of predominantly Muslim Indonesia’s Hindu and Buddhist past — was built in the 9th century, and is recognised by the UN as a world heritage site.
Today, debris from broken walls and carvings at the temple were scattered over the ground, with some pieces as big as a child.
It will be closed to the public until archaeologists are able to determine whether yesterday’s 6.3-magnitude quake also hurt the foundation or tilted the shrines, said Agus Waluyo, head of the Yogyakarta Archaeological Conservation Agency.
“It will take months to identify the precise damage,” he said, adding that an initial survey indicated it was extensive.
Pieces of small temples called “candis” also had broken off.
“I’m very sad it’s in such a state. It will be difficult to repair,” said Dermanto, who has worked as a security guard for 21 years at the temple.
The visitors’ centre was closed, and houses and shops near the complex were badly affected in the tremor.
The temple is one of the largest Hindu compounds in Southeast Asia.
“Everyone around here is shocked,” said Theresa, a coconut seller outside the temple. “This monument shows the greatness of Indonesia,” she added.
Not long after Javanese rulers constructed the Prambanan temple in the 9th century, it was abandoned for unknown reasons and began to deteriorate.
Reconstruction of the compound began in 1918 but is unfinished.
The nearby Buddhist temple of Borobudur, which appears to have escaped damage in yesterday’s quake, is also a Unesco World Heritage Site. Together, the temples draw more than a million tourists every year.
Local media reported that outer sections of Yogyakarta’s centuries-old royal palaces had also collapsed.
More than 450 aftershocks have been recorded following the earthquake.
The strongest of the 470 aftershocks, which measured 5.2 on the Richter scale, took place two hours after the initial 6.3-magnitude quake.
“Aftershocks happen because the tectonic plates are in the process of stabilising,” an official said.
USA - Lake Travis archaeological sites apparently looted
Professional archaeologists say illicit digs lead to environmental and artifact damage
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Thousands of years ago, drawn by rich hunting grounds, prehistoric people settled by the banks of the Colorado River. These early campers left behind cooking and hunting tools, and over time, the implements and their users' bodies were buried by what are now the Highland Lakes.
Now, declining lake levels have left land exposed, leading to a rash of digs by amateur archaeologists — authorities refer to them less generously as looters — that have left the banks of Lake Travis gouged with holes.
Archaeologists worry that the disappearance of the artifacts, often spirited away to flea markets or to be sold online or stuffed forever in a drawer, ruins the record of life along the lakes. They say the reckless digs cause environmental problems, and they demand that artifacts, which often belong to the State of Texas, be returned. Most amateurs oppose the digging on public lands, but they say they play a crucial role in identifying archaeological sites in what amounts to a race against the region's rapid development.
In April, a couple of hikers walking deep in the woods at a Lower Colorado River Authority park near Lake Travis came across an abandoned tent. Inside, they found a large, deep hole in the ground, which, along with six other nearby holes, added up to a telltale sign of illicit excavation.
Archaeologists don't know what was taken because they did not know the site existed.
On the face of it, looting is not a huge problem for the state's estimated 65,000 archaeological sites. A recent Texas study found that looting was responsible for damage to sites only 7 percent of the time, compared with 30 percent for farming operations and 24 percent for public works projects.
But because fertile sites are easy to spot — there are usually pieces of broken flint, broken tools and burnt rocks from cooking —amateurs can afford to be selective about the sites they want to excavate, according to Dan Prikryl, an archaeologist with the LCRA. Recognizing a site is "not rocket science," he said.
The Texas Antiquities Code makes it illegal to alter, damage, salvage or excavate historical sites on public lands without a permit. Violators face fines ranging from $50 to $1,000 and up to 30 days in jail.
Federal agents pursue large-scale looting from federal or native lands, but despite some local successful artifact busts in the late 1980s, there is no systematic state or city effort in Texas, said Mark Denton, an archaeologist with the Texas Historical Commission.
"There's not an archaeological strike force out there," he said.
There are more than 300 known archaeological sites on LCRA land. Most of them are eroded. But some sites, buried beneath soil and often at least 1,500 years old, have been nicely preserved.
"The sites that are more productive from a scientific perspective are more productive from a looter's perspective," Denton said. "They produce more artifacts; they're intact sites.
"The problem is, if you see one of these looted sites, it looks like a B-52 bomb strike. They dig up all the trees, all the brush, and there's a soil erosion problem. Looters' holes lead to environmental degradation."
The LCRA, which placed warning signs at park entrances in 2000 after a similar dip in lake levels led to an increase in illegal excavations, said it is not interested in prosecuting people who simply pick up the odd artifact.
"There are people walking along a shoreline who might see an Indian artifact and say, 'Wow,' and pick it up," Prikryl said. "We're not after those kinds of people. It's people knowingly with forethought who are going out and digging."
There are finds to be had: In 1982, archaeologists found the grave of an Ice Age woman. Discovered near Leander, and known to some as Leanderthal Lady, hers are the oldest known female remains in Texas, buried with simple ceremony between 11,000 and 8,000 B.C. About 10,000 years ago, the area where bars line Sixth Street in Austin may literally have been a watering hole: When contractors laid a foundation at 301 Congress Ave. in 1985, they discovered the skull of a saber-toothed tiger and the tusk of a mastodon.
Some of the region's greatest archaeological unearthings have come from illicit shovels.
In 1988, a prehistoric site was discovered near Kingsland in Burnet County after looters were caught stealing artifacts on LCRA land. The site turned out to be a major archaeological discovery, with more than 171,000 flint tools, spear points and arrowheads.
The City of Austin's park department and the state's historical commission are trying to get Steve Ashley, an artist and sometime archaeologist, to turn in an artifact that he uncovered four years ago when he discovered as many as five 6,000-year-old hunter-gatherer campsites on the banks of Walnut Creek in Austin. The artifact, a large, leaf-shaped flint blade, is about 4 inches wide and 7 inches long and was briefly advertised online.
Ashley, who has brought hundreds of artifacts to the state's attention and occasionally lectures on preservation methods, could not be reached for comment.
Population growth has meant that some potential excavation sites may be lost forever, amateur archaeologists say.
"Texas archaeology is under siege," said Bob Wishoff, who runs the dirtbrothers.org Web site, which promotes amateur archaeology and provides instructions on excavation. "If we do not find a way to coexist, indeed to assist the professionals, then archaeology is lost."
Other Web sites, such as austindiggers.com or texasaaa .com (the Texas Amateur Archaeological Association), are dedicated to organizing diggers and selling goods.
"It's hard to go to any rummage sale where you don't find these antiquities," Denton said. They typically fetch $25 to a couple of hundred, he said.
The LCRA asks lakegoers to be vigilant. "If you see a boat that doesn't have rods and reels but a bunch of shovels pull along the coastline and start to dig, give us a call," Prikryl said.
USA - Monuments' archaeology sites at risk
The Arizona Republic
May. 20, 2006 12:00 AM
The Bureau of Land Management is failing to protect archaeological sites on land it manages throughout the West, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Chronic funding and staff shortages imperil thousands of sites where early Americans once lived, says a trust report called "Cultural Resources on the Bureau of Land Management Public Lands: An assessment and needs analysis."
The report was released this week, and trust President Richard Moe singled out three Arizona monuments for special attention in a speech in Denver.
Grand Canyon-Parashant, Vermilion Cliffs and Agua Fria national monuments are at risk, Moe said.
"Looting and vandalism are major problems" at Agua Fria, Moe said, "but even more alarming is the huge rise in off-road vehicle use, which increased tenfold in . . . those same four years. These large and very mobile vehicles scar the landscape, kill plants and wreck archaeological sites, many of which haven't been adequately studied, since the monument doesn't have a full-time archaeologist on staff."
Michael Taylor, BLM deputy state director of resources, said the allegations are not true. He said Agua Fria has had a full-time archaeologist, Connie Stone, since the monument was established in January 2000.
He also denied that off-road vehicle use has been a problem because those vehicles are restricted to specified routes in the monument, he said.
Diana Hawks, in charge of planning for the land-management bureau in the Arizona Strip, also said Moe got some of the specifics wrong in his speech. No additional roads would be added in Grand Canyon-Parashant or Vermilion Cliffs, she said. Instead, roads would be removed.
But she and Taylor agreed that the bureau is being forced to do more with less money and that surveying vast swaths of land has been difficult.
"We might not have overwhelming budgets, but that is a fact of the times," Taylor said. "All land-management agencies have a challenge with the responsible use of public land in areas of burgeoning growth."
USA - Ancient sites face threats
Preservation group's report includes Canyons of the Ancients in southwest Colo. The BLM needs more money and staff to protect the sites, the group says, but the land agency defends its record.
Archaeological sites across the West, holding ancient rock art and pueblos, are at risk due to chronic shortages in federal funding and staffing, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Bureau of Land Management spends $15 million a year for the surveying and protection of cultural sites, but the preservation group says spending should rise to $50 million a year over the next five years.
"The BLM manages the largest, most diversified and scientifically most important body of cultural resources of any federal agency," the trust said in a report released today.
"However, much of this cultural resource base is seriously threatened," the study said.
There are about 263,000 cultural properties on the BLM's 261 million acres, which spread across 11 Western states, according to the report.
BLM spokeswoman Celia Boddington in Washington, D.C., rejected the criticism.
The BLM has been active in conservation, Boddington said, with 25 million acres added to a national preservation system on its lands since 2001.
Management plans are in progress for 26 preservation sites, she said, and last year the BLM released a draft on how it will manage its historic trails.
Among the endangered sites is the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwest Colorado, according to Richard Moe, president of the trust, a private nonprofit group.
"Canyons of the Ancients is the most culturally significant national monument in the country ,with a greater concentration of kivas and archaeological sites than of any other national monument," Moe said.
Moe is slated to give a speech today on the issue to the City Club of Denver at the Brown Palace Hotel.
Among the other sites of concern, Moe said, are a section of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in Montana, historic pioneer and Native American trails that pass through Wyoming, and areas rich in petroglyphs and cliff dwellings near Price and Monticello, Utah.
At Canyons of the Ancients, one ranger is responsible for overseeing 164,000 acres, making it "practically impossible" to prevent vandalism, looting and violations of mineral drilling permits, Moe said.
There have been 26 documented incidents of vandalism or artifact taking since the monument, located near Dolores, was established in 2000, said monument manager LouAnn Jacobson.
"We have an army of volunteers on the ground serving as our eyes and ears, but they have not been at the right place at the right time to catch anyone in the act," Jacobson said.
BLM's ability to protect fragile resources is also compromised by its mandate to permit multiple uses on its lands, including mining and oil and gas drilling, Moe said.
New laws calling for rapid exploration of energy reserves give BLM archaeologists little or no time to conduct surveys, according to the Trust report.
Less than 1 percent of BLM's 261 million acres is subject to oil and gas leasing, Boddington said.
The 2006 federal budget provides $19 per acre to pay for management of our national parks, compared with $2.27 per acre to pay for management of the sites in the National Landscape Conservation System, the trust report said.
Staff writer Dave Curtin can be reached at 303-820-1276 or at email@example.com.
Cambodia - Armed looters plundering key Cambodian temple: group
PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Armed looters with metal detectors have been plundering one of Cambodia's most important temples, the archaeological group Heritage Watch said Monday.
Looters have been plundering the area around Preah Khan, Cambodia's largest temple enclosure, trying to remove the few statues remaining in the complex as well as searching for valuable bronze artefacts, Heritage Watch director Dougald O'Reilly said in a statement.
The temple, in the northern province of Preah Vihear, is unguarded and difficult to reach. This makes it an easy target for a growing number of tomb raiders who have been destroying archaeological sites across the country's northern provinces.
"This magnificent temple complex stands as an example of what will happen to Cambodia's heritage if protective action is not taken," O'Reilly said.
"Nearly every carving in Preah Khan has been violently hacked away."
The looters reportedly have the backing of local officials, O'Reilly said.
Large-scale looting of Cambodia's artefacts is continuing despite efforts to protect its temples and Iron Age burial sites.
O'Reilly estimates that most of Cambodia's pre-Angkorian sites will be completely destroyed within three years if the plundering continues at its present pace.
Cambodia's temples are one of its biggest tourist attractions. The famed Angkor Wat temple complex in northwestern Cambodia is the country's most popular tourist destination.
UK - Public Sector threat to Heritage
Sixteen years ago the British Government ushered in a new set of guidelines for the handling of Britain’s rich, rare and fragile archaeological resource; PPG16. However, there is an increasing number who argue that this has brought in some unfortunate side effects that have undone the basic principles that PPG16 was meant to enforce; best practice has been transformed into least cost, an increasingly private archaeological sector means that it is the developer that calls the shots.
Rest of Story at: http://www.worldheritagealert.org/Pages/Article6.htm
Afghanistan - Plea to save Afghan antiquities
As war and intolerance ruin the nation's treasures, a team of its scholars made a public appeal at Penn.
By Andrew Maykuth
The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, still busy fighting Islamic extremists more than four years after the Taliban were expelled, has devoted scant resources to protecting and restoring endangered heritage sites, American and Afghan scholars lamented at a recent conference at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
"With most of the country's attention on Iraq, I thought Afghanistan was in danger of being forgotten altogether," said C. Brian Rose, the Penn archaeology professor who organized the symposium late last month that featured the only public appearance in America by six visiting Afghan scholars.
Since U.S. forces ousted the Taliban - the Islamic puritans who hosted Osama bin Laden and decreed that the 1,500-year-old Bamiyan Buddhas were idolatrous - most reconstruction aid has been spent on infrastructure.
"A lot of people in Afghanistan are asking why the Americans are absent in cultural heritage," said Omar Sultan, Afghanistan's deputy minister of information and culture.
The Afghans spent a week in the United States studying museum curatorial practices at Penn, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Their aim was also to raise awareness, raise funds, and plead for assistance.
"We need your help," said Sultan.
Iran - Smugglers destroy Iron Age cemetery south of Tehran
Tehran Times Culture Desk
An Iron Age cemetery in southern Tehran Province has been severely damaged by smugglers, the Persian service of CHN reported on Wednesday.
The cemetery at Pardis Tepe near Varamin was excavated by a team of archaeologists from the University of Tehran and Britain’s University of Leicester and University of Bradford last year but was left without any guards or protective fences.
“Unfortunately, due to the lack of any measures to safeguard the site, the Iron Age graves discovered during the excavations have been demolished by unknown persons and have been obliterated forever from Iran’s ancient history,” said Hassan Fazeli Nashli, the head of the team that excavated the site.
The human bones and artifacts discovered during the excavations have been scattered on the ground at the site.
“A lot of time and money were spent on the excavation and research, but many graves from the Iron Age -- an important period in archaeological studies -- have been demolished. For example, it took twenty days of hard work to excavate a grave containing an Iron Age couple, but the grave has been destroyed and the skeletons have been irrevocably damaged,” he explained.
He said that the Varamin Governor’s Office and the local police were responsible for guarding the site, adding, “As an expert, I have carried out my duties at the site… Officials and the people should have protected the site.”
Varamin Governor Hamid Nik-Hemmat expressed regret over what happened and ordered all relevant organizations to make efforts to increase the level of security at Varamin cultural heritage sites.
“Illegal excavations rarely occur at Varamin’s ancient sites. However, very serious measures will soon be taken to prevent such events from recurring in the city because it is one of the history- making cities of Iran near Tehran which must protect its cultural status,” he said.
According to Nik-Hemmat, the police are investigating the case in order to arrest the culprits.
Pardis Tepe also contains sites dating back to the sixth and fifth millennia BC. Several pottery kilns, a potter’s wheel, a spindle, and many grey shards have been discovered at the site during previous excavations.
Heritage protection in Turkey
Like many countries, Turkey is a nation proud of its heritage and its people are like many others, under an illusion that their government shares that pride.
Yet all too often, government pride only extends to those sites that earn tourist dollars or by their remote nature avoid getting in the way of major developments.http://www.worldheritagealert.org/Pages/turkey.htm
Spain destroys lost Roman city for a car park
Jon Clarke in Malaga
The Sunday Times April 30, 2006
THE archeologists could barely hide their excitement. Beneath the main square of Ecija, a small town in southern Spain, they had unearthed an astounding treasure trove of Roman history.
They discovered a well-preserved Roman forum, bath house, gymnasium and temple as well as dozens of private homes and hundreds of mosaics and statues — one of them considered to be among the finest found.
But now the bulldozers have moved in. The last vestiges of the lost city known as Colonia Augusta Firma Astigi — one of the great cities of the Roman world — have been destroyed to build an underground municipal car park...
USA - Battle Over Bear Butte Continues
The battle over Bear Butte continues in western KELOLAND. Native Americans consider the butte a sacred site and are upset with plans for nearby development. It was a heated hearing today between Native Americans and
An opponent said, "I just ask you to respect our way of life!"
Business man Gary Lippold is expanding his Glenco Campground south of Bear Butte into a large concert area.
Rev. Gary Arnold said, "Bear Butte has been and continues to be a sacred place of prayer and meditation for several Native American nations. And the noise in the nearby rally park can only disrupt religious practices on Bear Butte."
But Lippold's supporters say there are benefits to the expansion.
Supporter Evan Taylor said, "I think it's a good deal. He puts a lot money back into the community."
The commissioners voted in favor of giving him a liquor license; it's the second they've approved for businesses near the butte in less than a month. Native Americans also protested the decision to give Jay Allen a liquor license in April and today they turned in signatures that could push the issue to a public vote.
Petitioner Anne White Hat said, "The petition effort has been a tremendous success."
It didn't take long for opponents to collect more than the required 700 signatures.
White Hat said, "We've been able to garner nearly a thousand signatures in just one week."
And as they turn in the signatures, these Native Americans know another fight is right down the road. KELOLAND News tried to get a comment from Gary Lippold, but he wasn't available after the meeting. As for Jay Allen, he calls the petition hopeless. The signatures will next have to be accepted by the county, and then verified in order to have a public vote.
Bear Butte petition:
UK - Crackdown launched on rogue treasure hunters
By Jeremy Lovell
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain launched a crackdown on rogue treasure-hunters on Tuesday in an effort to protect the country's ancient heritage.
Faced with a growing number of priceless artefacts appearing for sale on Internet, museums, metal detectorists and archaeologists in England and Wales have agreed a new code of conduct.
The voluntary code comes after massive looting of a Roman-Celtic temple at Wanborough in Surrey in the mid-1980s and as customs officers seize ever more antiquities being smuggled out of the country.
"This code represents a major step forward," said Mike Heyworth of the Council for British Archaeology.
"Most detectorists are only interested in finding and preserving local antiquity ... and to make a positive contribution to our historical knowledge," he told reporters at the British Museum.
"There are just a few illicit detectorists motivated solely by profit."
In recent years, amateur metal detectorists have unearthed invaluable artefacts like the Bronze Age Ringlemere Gold Cup, the Winchester Hoard of Iron Age jewellery and the bronze Roman Staffordshire Moorlands Pan.
But Roger Bland, head of the portable antiquities scheme at the museum, said unscrupulous detectorists were arriving from the Netherlands and the United States to search illegally for buried treasure which was then offered for sale on the Internet.
"Most detectorists are highly responsible, getting permission from the landowner to search and reporting the fact and exact location of their finds," he said.
"But just a few aren't, and they are the ones doing the damage," he added, stressing that ignorance of correct procedure was as much to blame as the deliberate flouting of it.
Under the code, detectorists must get permission to search, join a recognised detectorists' club, log the precise location of any find and report it to the landowner -- who has a share in any valuation -- and to the portable antiquities scheme.
Steve Critchley, head of the National Council for Metal Detecting, estimated there could be between 20,000 and 30,000 detectorists in the country.
"While the archaeologists go for the big cherries, we detectorists tend to operate in the periphery and what we find adds significantly to the sum of knowledge -- which is why it is so important to log it precisely," Critchley said.
"Every find adds to the picture. The danger is the lack of recording," he added.
Bland estimated that currently as many as half of the artefacts found -- ranging from belt buckles to plates -- might not be being declared.
Iraq - Fort Drum archeologists coordinating training to protect historical sites in Middle East
Soldiers will soon be learning how to prevent damage to important archeological sites through training coordinated at Fort Drum.
Professor Roger Ulrich of Dartmouth College is preparing to start work on training materials aimed at helping troops in Iraq and Afghanistan prevent damage to sites with significant historical value.
Ulrich's research is being coordinated at Fort Drum, where a group of civilians engage in “Cultural Resource Management," which informs troops how to avoid damaging historical monuments on post during training.
Dr. Laurie Rush, one the program's directors and cultural resources program manager for Fort Drum initially approached Ulrich about leading a group of student researchers to develop guidelines for the military.
Ulrich is a specialist in Greek and Roman archeology, and says he hopes to rely on his students' research to supplement his own knowledge.
The move towards developing guidelines for preserving historically significant sites comes as a Defense Department response to the outcry among academics against the damage troops are currently causing in the Middle East. The two most reported incidents include the sacking of the National Museum in Baghdad and the reported damage of a Babylon archeological site.
"There are some pretty obvious measures you can take," Ulrich said. "A classic example would be filling sandbags. If you're digging in the desert and scooping up shards of pottery and cuneiform tablets, you should probably dig somewhere else."
Ulrich hopes to begin work on the project this summer and continue it into the fall, and the Defense Department hopes to complete work on the materials approximately one year from now. The materials will include a general instruction manual, 100,000 packs of playing cards carrying cultural and historical information and 50,000 laminated sheets for troops in the field to help them recognize and protect historically sensitive areas.
Information taken from The Dartmouth
UK - Durham: Transport "Innovation" Threatens Historic City
Stonehenge and Durham Cathedral form two of Britain 's best known and most visited World Heritage Sites. Stonehenge has been much in the British news recently, and a topic of debate in parliament. The controversy there concerns environmental damage associated with traffic, and how much measures against it would cost. Durham now seems likely to achieve the same unlucky prominence in the national media.
UK - Whitby Museum safety fears
24 April 2006
FEARS have been raised for the safety of Whitby Museum after youths built a bonfire against the wall of the building.
Museum committee members believe the museum is in danger of going up in smoke if the anti-social behaviour is allowed to continue.
Whitby police have pledged to crack down on the youths who are drinking and vandalising property in Pannett Park every Friday and Saturday night.
Concerns about the increase in antisocial behaviour were raised at a community and police consultation group meeting on Wednesday.
Museum committee member Stuart Gibson said they had to call police three times in a week and last weekend a bonfire was lit next to the building wall.
"The problem occurs week after week and after last weekend we are worried about the building catching fire," he said. "If the police had not have dispersed them when they did the building could have gone up.
"They also play football with bottles and cans on the side of the building and they cause an awful lot of damage."
He said the museum is one of Whitby's treasures and should not be put at risk.
Sgt Richard Parsons of Whitby Police promised there would be increased patrols. He said similar problems at the leisure centre had been resolved and they would be using the same tactics to stamp out anti-social behaviour in the park.
"We are well aware of the rise in antisocial behaviour and it is entirely unacceptable," he said. "There are certain people who only understand one message and that's the message of enforcement."
He said police would be taking youths home to their parents as well as looking at where they are getting their alcohol from. But Tom Brodrick, representing Whitby's small businesses, said police were fighting a losing battle. "When do you put your hand up and say you can't stop it?" he asked.
Sgt Parsons said: "Our Chief Constable has said we must take responsibility for these problems and she has given us more manpower to do it.
"I am not going to sit here and say we have a magic wand but we are going to tackle it head on. You are definitely going to see changes."
Tricia Colling of the Safer Communities Partnership said residents and police need to work as a team to combat the problem.
"It's not just down to the police. Everyone has to be involved. If there is a problem, report it." Duncan Taylor, deputy head of Caedmon School added: "The vast majority of kids from all our schools agree this is out of order."
Coun Sandra Turner said: "It's a case of detaining these problem kids and sorting them out once and for all."
Africa - African heritage fund to be launched
A fund aiming to help preserve Africa's World Heritage sites in danger will be launched early next month in South Africa, it was announced on Monday.
The African World Heritage Fund (AWHF) will address the crucial need of funding for Africa's World Heritage sites approved by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ( UNESCO), said a press release on behalf of South African ministries of culture and tourism.
UNESCO's World Heritage Committee (WHC) designates sites around the world with outstanding cultural values or unique natural beauty and inscribes them on the World Heritage List.
Of 812 heritage sites around the world, only 66 are in Africa and 14 of them are on the World Heritage Endangered List. Many of them face serious threat either from chemical or mining, pollution, pillaging, war, poorly managed tourism or poaching.
The WHC's 29th Session in Durban, South Africa, in July last year approved the AWHF to inject money for maintenance purposes, capacity building, awareness-raising and to monitor the implementation of the World Heritage Convention on the continent.
"To date more than 18 countries have pledged support for the AWHF with China, the Netherlands, India and Israel making firm financial commitments," said the press release.
South Africa's Departments of Arts and Culture and Environmental Affairs and Tourism have committed 20 million rand ( 3.33 million U.S. dollars) to the fund, it said.
Isreal - Jewish holy site vandalized in Galilee
Unknown vandals desecrated the tomb of talmudic sage Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel, shattering iron bars at the entrance to the structure and setting it alight.
Located in the Israeli Arab village of Kafr Kana, just west of the Golani junction, the tomb is the final resting place of one of the most prominent rabbis of the talmudic era. It consists of a small stone building, which stands over an underground burial cave.
The entrance to the site and the sign hanging over it were partially blackened by smoke as a result of the fire that was set, and mounds of garbage were strewn nearby.
Damage was also inflicted to the interior, including to the stairwell leading down to the subterranean room where the sage's grave is located. Several of the stone steps were smashed, and an adjoining concrete wall was ripped apart.
The grave itself was unharmed, but the surrounding area was despoiled.
According to an official at the Tourism Ministry, which is responsible for maintaining the holy sites, the incident likely took place some time during the past two weeks, in the course of the Passover holiday.
Workers will be sent to the site on Sunday to repair the damage, the official told the Jerusalem Post, adding that the tomb has been the target of regular attacks by local Arabs, often as frequently as twice a month.
In October 2000, the tomb was set ablaze by local Arabs, causing extensive damage to the site.
The police said they would investigate the latest desecration.
Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel served as the Nasi, or leader, of the Jewish people just prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. He was murdered by the Romans, and his tomb has been a popular site for Jewish pilgrims over the centuries.
In one of his more famous teachings, he is quoted in the Ethics of the Fathers as saying, "all my life I have been raised among the Sages, and I have not found anything better for a person than silence.
Study is not the primary thing, but action."
Palestine - Palestinian Archaeology Braces for a Storm
RAMALLAH--Six years ago, Hamdan Taha, director of the Palestinian Authority's Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage, was struggling to make ends meet with a skeleton crew and a $500,000 budget (Science, 7 January 2000, p. 33). Then last December, his department got a windfall: The Palestinian Authority offered a $6 million budget boost. Much of the new money was to be for preservation, but some was tagged for the excavation of a freshly uncovered Bronze Age site called Tell Etell, a few kilometers outside Ramallah--the first archaeological project that would be fully Palestinian from start to finish.
But fortunes change fast here. After Hamas was elected to the Palestinian government in January, Israel ceased transferring customs payments. Last week, the European Union announced that it is suspending direct aid to the Palestinian territories. And the United States is asking international agencies to withhold contributions until Hamas recognizes Israel and renounces violence, although few agencies so far have joined the squeeze.
"This will bring terrible impacts on Palestinian archaeology," says Moain Sadeq, antiquities chief in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority may be forced to lay off guards at sites, which could exacerbate a serious looting problem. Some also fear that a Hamas-led government may refocus archaeological efforts on the region's Islamic roots, at the expense of earlier periods. Such controversies are ongoing, such as the alleged destruction of pre-Islamic archaeological material to improve access to a mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by the previous Palestinian government. Judeh Morkus, the Hamas-appointed minister of tourism and antiquities for the Palestinian Authority, says his government will not require archaeologists to probe only Islamic sites. "The focus will be as it was," he says, adding that the ministry hopes to complete a review of existing agreements by the end of this month.
Taha is at home with turmoil. After Israeli and Palestinian leaders signed the Oslo Accords in 1994, archaeologists from Europe and North America swept in to probe the archaeological riches of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where layers of continuous occupation go back to the origins of civilization. Taha and his Palestinian colleagues were eager to work with partners from outside. International digs began to uncover archaeological gems, from Canaanite waterworks in the West Bank to Neolithic occupations in the Gaza Strip. But after the second Intifada flared up in 2000, one project after another "came to a standstill," says Taha, who earned his archaeology Ph.D. in Germany. The conflict has restricted access to sites, he says, and in some areas it posed real danger to life and limb.
USA - Archaeological sites have been looted in futile search for gold
By KEVIN LOLLAR
The News-PressDust and sweat flew amid the click and chink of rakes, shovels and pickaxes on shell as Florida park rangers filled a hole south of here.
Not just any hole, though: This was an ugly gouge in an Indian mound. The gouge had been created more than 20 years ago by looters looking for pirate treasure.
Under the supervision of cultural resource specialist Chuck Blanchard, five rangers spent a day restoring the mound, on which natives lived from about 500 B.C. until contact with Europeans in the early 16th century.
"Though I've been shouting about it for years, the nature of these sites as actual monuments to our past is beginning to catch on," Blanchard said. "If we treat our national monuments like national monuments, we're less likely to get this type of vandalism.
"There's some personal satisfaction for me here: This is the very, very first looter hole I saw in Charlotte Harbor - in 1983."
People were drawn to this site, officially designated CH-9 and once popularly called the Hippie Commune Mound, by stories of pirate Jose Gaspar, for whom, supposedly, the island of Gasparilla was named.
According to legend, Gaspar buried much of his ill-gotten gains in Indian mounds in Charlotte Harbor.
So, find an Indian mound, and you might find gold doubloons and pieces of eight.
Only one problem: Jose Gaspar never existed.
Unfortunately, some people believed the tales and sought their fortune by ripping up many of the area's cultural monuments.
It's amazing what the whisper of gold will do," Blanchard said.
Looters have ravaged Southwest Florida's prehistoric sites for other reasons, including lightning whelks, which are sold on the Asian market and turned into devotional candles.
"There are so many holes in the harbor," Blanchard said. "There's not a site that's not badly injured."
Restoration of CH-9 started in April when Mary Glowacki and Kevin Porter of the state's Public Lands Archaeology Program visited the site.
"We're doing salvage archaeology," program supervisor Glowacki said. "When the looters help out, we collect as much information as we can. The site had been dug into, and we wanted to get information from the site without digging more."
Among other things, Glowacki and Porter documented the layers within the looter pit - shell mounds were constructed in individual building events over hundreds of years, each event marked by a visible layer of construction.
They also collected artifacts, and took samples for radio carbon dating.
Another important part of this stage was collection of pottery: Different kinds of pottery were developed at different times over the centuries.
If a lot of a particular kind of pottery is found in a layer of a mound, that mound probably dates to the period when the pottery was common.
Sand-tempered plain pottery, for example, was the dominant pottery form starting in about 500 B.C., and pottery at the bottom of the looter pit was sand-tempered plain, so the mound might date back about 1,500 years.
Restoring a shell mound is hard, hot work.
First, the bottom of the pit was packed with two tons of sand - 80 50-pound sandbags that the rangers tossed around like volleyballs.
The sand was put in the pit while still in plastic bags.
"When we restore a site, we usually put something in the bottom so, if there's a formal excavation in the future, they'll know where the looters stopped," Glowacki said.
Then came the backbreaking work of filling the rest of the looter pit with shell.
While they were digging up the mound, looters piled shell around the pit; over the years, the piles packed together and became almost rock-hard.
"This is not the fun part," Blanchard said of breaking up the piles with pickaxes and then shoveling the shells into the pit.
Finally, the shell was in place, and the mound looked almost whole.
Watching the work, Florida Park Service specialist Andy Goodwyne shook his head at the looters' destruction.
"It's horrible that people think there's gold in these Indian mounds," Goodwyne said.
"Digging these mounds is a desecration, something you just don't do. But people get gold fever - some people will do anything for a dollar."
Iraq - US colonel willing to apologise for damage to Babylon
15 Apr 2006
A senior American military officer, Colonel John Coleman, says he is willing to apologise to Iraq for the damage his troops caused at the historic site of Babylon.
Babylon is home to the hanging gardens, once among the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Two thousand US troops built a helicopter pad on the ancient ruins, with the vibration from helicopter landings leading to the roof of one building collapsing.
The soldiers also filled their sandbags with archaeological artefacts, just because they were lying around and easy to pick up.
Iraqi State Board for Heritage and Antiquities head, Donny George, says the mess will take decades to sort out.
Colonel Coleman, the chief of staff at Babylon when it was occupied by the First Marine Expeditionary Force, argues that whatever his troops did, the alternative would have been far worse.
UK - Isle of Lewis - Lewis Wind Farm, has been refused planning permission
Lewis's proposed mega-windfarm has recieved a significant number of objections due to the inpact on the setting of Callanish stone circle and the threat to rare raptors. Environmental campaigners have asked why this natural and cultural beauty is threatened by so many wind turbines when most of the energy will be lost as it travels hundreds of miles to its final destination - Scotlands major cities.
From Stornaway today:
Lewis Wind Farm, has been refused planning permission by Highland Council.
The planned pylon line from Beauly to Denny was rejected by councillors pending further safety information and details of alternative options.
A public enquiry will now be held into the proposal put forward by electricity giants Scottish and Southern Energy plc (SSE) making the case for a subsea or underground cable direct from Lewis to England ever more possible.
The upgrade of the Beauly to Denny line is essential to make the Lewis Wind Farm viable without an underwater or underground cable all the way to the south of England as energy will be transmitted from Lewis to Ullapool and then on to Beauly.
Welcoming Highland Council's decision, Sue Hopkinson of anti pylon group Highland Before Pylons commented: "HBP is delighted with Highland Council's refusal to countenance SSE's proposals for the Beauly to Denny upgrade in their present form. "
However she added that this was certainly not the end of the road: "Highland Council's stand may not spell the end of plans for the upgrade but They have shown a willingness to listen to public concerns, which, if they follow it through should lead them to demand a public enquiry."
Announcing the move by Highland Council following a special meeting of the Planning, Development, Europe and Tourism Committee, Director of Planning John Rennilson said this week: "Although the Committee recognises that high voltage electricity transmission systems are key for the development of renewable energy in the Highlands, they did not feel that the proposal
presented to them today was acceptable."
He continued: "We will now be calling for the Scottish Executive to hold an early meeting between the Scottish and Southern Energy plc, affected local authorities, Cairngorm National Park Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage, SEPA and Historic Scotland to explore and report on alternative overhead or underground routing and to look at ways to address the issues raised by the objectors. This is an important issue and we cannot afford to tread water until the public enquiry in the autumn."
HBP have long campaigned against a pylon line from Ullapool to Beauly but they also support similar campaigns across the country including the battle against an upgrade of the Beauly to Denny line.
And as HBP's Sue stresses, the tide of opinion has begun to change towards that of a subsea cable from Lewis: "HBP's arguments about the importance of subsea cables seems to be gaining ground. AMEC has already expressed a willingness to look at this option, should the Lewis windfarms go ahead and now SSE are also reconsidering subsea options for the Western Isles, which would bypass the need to link to the Beauly 'hub'."
SSE have said they will look at alternative options but have maintained throughout HPB's campaign that undergrounding of cables is much more expensive and is more detrimental to the environment.
The outcome of a public enquiry into the Beauly to Denny proposal has serious implications for the rest of Scotland as its result will impact on both plans for renewable projects in the Western Isles and other pylon schemes across the Highlands.
India - Govt inertia ruin heritage sites
Statesman News Service
BALASORE, April 20: Due to the apathy of the department of tourism and culture of Central and state governments, several heritage sites face negligence, as a result of which the growth of tourism in Orissa is in a dismal stage, said Mr Prasanta Padhi, a heritage preservation activist, while addressing the Press on World Heritage Day.
Mr Padhi, who is the convener of the Orissa Heritage Conservation Foundation and Balasore Historical Society, said despite the potential of heritage sites with innumerable spots in natural and cultural spots, the state government has not initiated any substantial movement to protect and explore them for tourism.
Orissa is blessed with various natural and cultural heritage sites, which includes archaeological, architectural, maritime, military, tribal and textiles, yet there is no unified agency in the state in the
line of English Heritage of England to look after the maintenance and preservation. India has a total of 26 heritage sites, including 21 cultural and five natural sites. And despite tremendous potential,
Orissa has only one site ~ Konark ~ which finds its place in the list of world heritage sites, he said.
According to him, the ASI and state archeological department look after the issues connected to archeological aspect of focusing only few prominent sites, the much hyped heritage board promised by former tourism and culture minister Mr Jagmohan is yet to become a reality.
India is obliged under Article 49 and 51 A (f) of Unesco Convention resolution adopted on 16 November, 1972 to protect cultural heritage.
The Centre as well as the state government have failed to implement the declaration in letter and spirit.
Balasore having a glorious maritime past has many sites, buildings and cemeteries in Dinamar Dinga, Olondaz Sahi, Pharashi Dinga , Gora Kabar, Royal palaces in town and other places Nilgiri, Raibania, which are in the last days of glories due to the absence of architectural
conservation law, he added.
He said that the Victorian grandeur of Fa-kir Mohan college is ruined by insensitive addition of buildings in the front and the rear.
Ireland - Tara motorway route appeal
Irish Times Thu, Apr 20, 06
Campaigners battling to reroute the controversial M3 motorway away from the Hill of Tara yesterday served Minister for the Environment Dick Roche with notice of a Supreme Court challenge to the project.
Lawyer Vincent Salafia said he was appealing a High Court ruling clearing the way for the divisive road which snakes its way through the ancient capital of Ireland's kings.
He said with a general election due next year, he was still hopeful the Government would try to appease voters by doing a U-turn on the project.
"While the case is proceeding logically to the Supreme Court, and Europe if necessary, we are still hoping for a political decision by the authorities to review the situation and consider rerouting the Tara section of motorway," he said.
Formal written notice of the Supreme Court action was handed to Mr Roche, the Attorney General, Meath County Council and the National Roads Authority.
Mr Salafia lost his High Court challenge to the M3 last May. He claimed the National Monuments Act 2004 is unconstitutional, because it does not pass the test laid out by Justice Laffoy in the M50/Carrickmines Castle case.
No date has been fixed for the hearing but it will be several months away.
Turkey - Heritage at risk: Allianoi
Saturday, 25th of March 2006 at 20:40 the french/german tv-station ARTE broadcast a documentary on the archaeological site of Allianoi.
Europa Nostra gives the latest update:
The latest news on the protection status of the site is that the Turkish Ministry of Culture has appointed a committee of experts that visited the site on 25 February 2006, and who are expected to present a report describing the conservation options for Allianoi. Pending the finalisation of this report, it is expected that the site will not be flooded. Until the present day, we have unfortunately been unable to obtain any direct information from the Turkish Government concerning its plans for the the future of Allianoi.
reference: press release Europa Nostra
Europa Nostra also launched the initiative Save Allianoi.
ICOMOS wrote a Letter to the Prime Minister of Turkey in this issue.
Threat to caves of Bombay
The Maharashtra Tourism Department has adopted the Trimurti statue of the Elephanta caves as its logo. But little has been done to ensure that the sculptures inside these five groups of caves are well protected, writes Vinaya Kumar.
A view of the Kanheri caves, Bombay.
Caves of Bombay! Yes! I am referring to more than two hundred heritage caves with sculptures rivalling that of the famous Ellora, within 20 km of the city centre of Bombay! Does commerce alone makes a global city? This is the question the Archaeological survey of India or the Tourism Department of Maharashtra and the city planners of Bombay have to decide, for around Bombay are six groups of caves - Mandapeshwar, Kanheri, Jogeshwari, Karla, Mahakali. and Elephanta - with exquisite rock sculptures. And the sad fact is that with the exception of Elephanta, which has been declared as a World heritage site by Unesco, the other five caves are fast disintegrating due to lack of maintenance.
The area around Bombay was a part of the Magadha empire ruled by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. The sculptures of the Kanheri caves, Jogeshwari caves and the Mahakali caves date back to this era. The Hindu cave temples of Siva, on the island of Elephanta, in the Bombay harbour, contain some of the most magnificent examples of stone carving in India. The dating of all these caves seems to be controversial. They were probably finished some time between 450 and 750 AD.
Believe it or not, the local mafias - in collusion with politicians and bureaucrats - have moved into these precious sites, threatening and intimidating those who have tried to raise a voice in protest or to protect them.
The staff of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is in charge of these national treasures, have revealed a genuine fear and inability to monitor these sites due to lack of policing power/ and the capability of the ASI to protect their lives if they try to control the encroachers.
Let us examine the present condition of some of these caves.
Today the Karla caves are a picnickers' haven, with any individual able to enter the shrines without paying entrance fee or accompanied by caretakers who will ensure that the artistic treasures are not damaged. Incidentally the Chaitya (stupa) inside caves is the largest in India. Further the ASI states that the chhatri atop the Chaitya caves is of wood. That means this wooden chhatri has been in existence for more than 2000 years!
In any historically conscious nation, even if it is only 200 years old, there would have been an attempt for its preservation. Here in Bombay collegians spend their time in hurling coins and other hard stones at the chhatri to see, if their aim is strong enough! In Mahakali caves you can hardly walk in, due to discarded condoms used by couples seeking private moments, charred remains of drug users' fires, plastic and cellophane garbage of visitors and last but not least the amorous graffiti engraved on the walls by heartless Indian tourists.
In the Jogeshwari caves a group of "developers' posing as Jogeshwari Mata Mandir Trust are the de facto owners of these 6th century AD caves and have altered the interior for placing the idols of deities for commercial exploitation. Experts point out that the quality of craftsmanship at Jogeshwari is so similar to Elephanta, that it is believed the same group of artisans probably worked on both caves. Unfortunately it is the site most encroached upon. Not only has a colony been built on top of it, but the sewage water that constantly drains into the cave from the colony is rapidly eroding the rock. Mandapeshwar cave sculptures are a difficult site for political reasons as two religious groups claim ownership of the site. But the authorities should not make it a reason for neglect. There are 101 numbered caves in the Kanheri complex - a working Buddhist monastery - ranging from full temples to simple living quarters. The earliest caves may have been excavated in the first century AD and the latest date from the 11th century. The ASI had allotted Rs 25 lakh for the development of the Kanheri caves, but precious little has been done due to the powerful lobby of real estate agents and encroachers.
At Elephanta, for example, where the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has been working to improve local conditions and the cave site, local vested interests who had violated all encroachment laws had made every effort to thwart, threaten, and malign the efforts. It was only the intervention of Unesco that managed to save the site from gross abuse.
As a first step, the ASI should immediately stop the construction of housing colonies near these caves. Once these steps have been taken, a larger plan to develop the sites for their tourism potential can be taken up. The Maharashtra Tourism Department has adopted the Trimurti statue of the Elephanta caves as its logo. But precious little has been done to ensure that the fabulous sculptures inside these five groups of caves are well protected and taken care of for posterity. - MF
31st March 2006
An ancient quarry rich in natural and cultural heritage is a potential site for nomination to the UNESCO's World Heritage List, says Nadja Tomoum
Wadi Al-Hitan, the Whales Valley, known for its rich palaeontological history (especially for its skeletons of primitive whales and other vertebrate fossils), is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List as an area of outstanding natural history. It lies within the boundaries of the Lake Qarun nature reserve and forms part of the Wadi Al-Rayan Protected Area in the Fayoum governorate. In this area lies Widan Al-Faras, which may soon be the only ancient quarry left in Egypt that still bears traces of one of Egypt's oldest industries -- stone cutting.
The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), in response to a request to draw up a management plan for the protection and preservation of the quarries in the northern Fayoum, is now looking into the possibility of asking UNESCO to incorporate Widan Al-Faras within the Wadi Al-Rayan Protected Area. This spring, a survey of the ancient quarries at Widan Al-Faras carried out as part of the Quarry Scapes Project will be continued with the aim of assessing the risks to the site and developing practical and methodological guidelines for its conservation. This project is a joint initiative coordinated by the Norwegian Geological Survey and funded through the EU
Commission to draw together academic and other institutions in Europe with partners in Egypt, Turkey and Jordan. The project has been established for the conservation of ancient stone quarry landscapes, mainly focussing on their documentation, conservation and heritage management.
UK - Stonehenge - Campaign groups call for rethink of A303 strategy
30th March 2006
In a joint press release ten campaign groups have announced concern at the UK Governments approach to the traffic issues regarding the roads nearest to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and have agreed a joint alternative proposal, which is in line with the "Achievable Stonehenge" strategy announced earlier in the month by Heritage Action and TimeWatch.
It is clear that a strong consensus on the issues underlying the A303 consultation is emerging, on a vision for the Stonehenge World Heritage site that means dealing with the more pressing A344 issues first, rather than allowing this to be driven by the A303 consultation.
The campaign groups announced their vision the Stonehenge World Heritage site:
`To regain the tranquillity and dignity of this unique cultural landscape, allowing present and future generations fully to enjoy and appreciate the World Heritage site as a whole.'
They also laid out the newly agreed "vision":
- All support strongly an approach at Stonehenge that recognises and respects the World Heritage site as a cultural landscape and believe that it should be put forward for re-inscription as such in order to provide appropriate protection
- All challenge the Inspector's reasoning and recommendation in the A303 Public Inquiry Report, and consider that there could be grounds for judicial review should the preferred scheme be approved for implementation
- All oppose the current options in the Highways Agency Scheme Review as lacking a long-term vision that respects the international significance of Stonehenge as a World Heritage site
- All call on the Highways Agency to explore different options, which would be acceptable in
terms of impact on the World Heritage landscape. These options should include above ground, or mainly above ground, routes, within northern and southern corridors, together with tunnel options that avoid impacting on the World Heritage site
- All believe that the government should, in the short term, focus on the benefits of possible small-scale, interim improvements, notably closure of the A344/A303 junction, in the absence of
agreed large-scale development, but without prejudicing any future off-line solutions
- All recognise the considerable potential of the Stonehenge World Heritage site as a whole to deliver huge public value and consider that a formal assessment of that value should form part of any analysis for evaluating large-scale development in the World Heritage site
- All agree that the following principles should be heeded when assessing the
appropriateness or otherwise of possible road and access schemes:
- The significance of the World Heritage site extends beyond individual scheduled
monuments and their immediate settings
- The Stonehenge World Heritage site is a cultural landscape of interrelated complexes of monuments and buried remains, which together display an unique range of evidence for prehistoric society
- To safeguard the World Heritage site for future generations, the long-term view must always be considered, even for interim or partial solutions
Signatories – in alphabetical order:
ASLaN - Ancient Sacred Landscape Network
CBA - The Council for British Archaeology
CPRE - The Campaign to Protect Rural England
FoE - Friends of the Earth
ICOMOS-UK - International Council for Monuments & Sites, UK
RESCUE - The British Archaeological Trust
The National Trust
WANHS -Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
21st March 2006
Archaeological and historical sites along the U.S. border with Mexico and other valuable cultural resources are being destroyed, including areas held sacred by Native Americans, according to a new report from a presidential advisory panel.
The culprits: dynamic population growth and urbanization in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California, combined with increased cross-border traffic and illegal immigration through the region and related border enforcement.
Unless many of these cultural and natural resources along the U.S.-Mexican border are better protected, and soon, they will not be available for future generations, the panel warns.
ADDIS ABABA, March 19 (Xinhuanet) -- A renowned British archaeologist said Sunday there is an urgent need to ensure that tourists can visit Ethiopian historical sites but in numbers whichthe sites can accommodate without being threatened and unreasonably damaged.
Professor David Phillipson, director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology of the Cambridge University, told journalists that a broadly agreed tourist management policy should be put in place in Ethiopia.
"We have a duty to pass on the tangible cultural heritage to future generation," said Phillipson.
21st March 2006
"It should be pointed out that the recent creation of the (Canada Border Services Agency) as a result of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has resulted in a significant reduction in the priority given
to issues not related to health, safety and security," reads an internal evaluation by Canadian Heritage, obtained by the Ottawa Citizen under the Access to Information Act.
"The CBSA has explicitly indicated that ... export controls are outdated and it wishes to get out of the business."
Peru - Yale asked to return artefacts, again.
29th January 2006
Machu Picchu is a magical, mysterious place that for nearly a century has intrigued archaeologists and visitors alike. Perched atop a steep, emerald green peak 8,000 feet high in the Andes in southern Peru, it is reachable only by a long road that zigzags up the slope from the roaring Urubamba river, or by hiking four days along the challenging Inca Trail. One can imagine the excitement when intrepid Yale professor-explorer Hiram Bingham, led there by local peasants in 1911, first glimpsed the jungle-invaded citadel abandoned by the Incas four centuries earlier.
Bingham eagerly surveyed the site over the next five years, clearing away brush and identifying palaces, temples, and a celestial observatory from what is believed to have been a summer palace or ceremonial center for the first Incan emperor, Pachakuteq. Most of its gold and other treasures had been looted around the time of the Spanish conquest, but he unearthed thousands of artifacts and carted them off to New Haven to study.
My family and I spent two days exploring Machu Picchu in December. It's a place that invites profound contemplation as well as basic speculation. Watching as banks of clouds completely shrouded the ruins -- and us -- for a few minutes before retreating, we wondered, how did the Incas manage to build this complex city in such a remote place?
UNRESOLVED NEGOTIATION. As our local guide, Gloria, pointed out a spring-fed water supply that still flows through chiseled stone channels, we asked if there was a museum nearby where we could view some artifacts. "No," she said with some bitterness. "They're all at a university in the United States. We're trying to get them back."
Indeed, the Peruvian government is threatening to sue Yale University for the return of all the artifacts found at Machu Picchu. There's no dispute that Peru gave Bingham permission to take the
artifacts to Yale for further study. But Peruvian authorities say they have documents specifying that the material had to be returned within 18 months. It has now been more than 90 years. Yale says that Peruvian law in the 1900s "gave Yale title to the artifacts at the time of their excavation and ever since."
Three years of negotiations have not yet resulted in a solution. After Peru's Congress held public hearings in November, Yale offered in a Dec. 8 letter only to return "a substantial number" of the pieces.
Treasure hunters discard ancient ritual cauldron in Bulgaria
23rd October 2005
Bulgarian treasure-hunters discovered and discarded an ancient bronze ritual cauldron as worthless it has been claimed. The ancient vessel is believed to have been used for funeral rituals more than thirty centuries ago. It was found near the Utroba cave, close to Kurdzhali, Southern Bulgaria. It contained burned human bones and was placed in a stone shaft, covered with a slab.
Archeologists believe that the treasure-hunters were digging for gold and found the relic by chance. Apparently having decided that the cauldron was of little value as it was not made of precious metals, the treasure hunters left it behaind and it was later found by some Kurdzhali citizens. German Angelov, an archeologis from the Perperikon expedition saw it and bought it from the finders.
The cauldron has been dated to the Iron Age - between 11th and 8th century BCE and it is thought that it was used as a funeral urn. An ancient village is believed to have been situated close to the Utroba cave where this relic was found. Last year ancient coins, bronze statuettes and ceramics with early scriptures were discovered in the same area. The cauldron is now in Kurdzhali's Historical Museum.
Looting ruins Nevada ’s archaeological heritage
20 th October 2005 .
Heritage sites the world over are plagued by cultural theft of one sort or another, in Nevada looters in search of prehistoric artifacts have done extensive damage to a sensitive archaeological site in the Wendover (Nevada, USA) area, according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (http://www.blm.gov/nhp/index.htm).
Archeologists from the BLM Elko Field Office recently discovered that a valuable prehistoric site had been raided by thieves looking to take away ancient artifacts. "The site had a lot of potentially significant information about early man in Nevada ," said Tim Murphy, BLM archeologist. "Large holes were dug at the site and the material was screened.
"Burned and unburned bone was thrown around and the remaining artifacts are no longer in context. Archaeological knowledge comes primarily from context, i.e. the physical environment of where and
how artifacts are found such as how deep they are and their relation to other artifacts. Without context, very little information can be gained," he said. Murphy continued, "Essentially the looters did substantial damage to a potentially nationally significant site. Each site is unique and if it's destroyed we've lost that information forever. "These archaeological resources belong to all Americans and not in the living room of the people digging them up."
John Koda of campaign group Native Earthworks Preservation (http://nativeearthworks0.tripod.com/) said “This sort of thing happens all too often, many people seem to think it is their right to destroy such sites and make off with a few stone artifacts. We need to give our ancient sites better protection”
The destruction is a crime and is punishable under the
Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (http://www.cr.nps.gov/hps/laws/archprotect.htm ) , according to the BLM. The incident is being investigated from clues left behind by the
looters. If people have any information about the looting, they are urged to call BLM Elko Law Enforcement officers at 775-753-0200 or
"More haste" demanded over efforts to protect Malta's Ancient Temples
19th October 2005
Heritage campaign groups have called for words to be put into action over plans to protect Malta's ancient temples from erosion.
The temples have suffered considerable damage in recent years, and restoration work at the Ggantija Temples has only recently been completed; During heavy rain in September 2003 a section of the temples' outer wall had collapsed. The project was made possible thanks to financing through the European Union’s Solidarity Funds.
However, much more work has yet to be completed and campaigners have urged for planned work to carried out as soon as possible - there is a long list to be completed and it many cases this work has yet to begin:
- Work on the planned heritage park for Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, which will include a multi-purpose hall, has yet to begin, the scheduled completion date is early 2008.
- There is a plan to cover the temples with specially made tents and whilst a commitment for rapid action was made, little progress is evident.
- Planned visitors' centres at both the Tarxien Temples and the Ggantija Temples have seen serious delays.
- Plans to recruit watchmen and for the installation of CCTV cameras need to be extended to cover all nationally important monuments.
Heritage Activists in Malta intend to keep up pressure in order that the islands heritage gets the best possible protection.
Concerns raised for Florida's Lake Worth Beach heritage sites
19th October 2005
Archaeologist Dorothy Brock has raised concerns over a number of newly discovered American native heritage sites, possibly dating back thousands of years.
The sites were discovered as a result of a county-wide survey completed in 1991 by Florida Atlantic Universities professor William Kennedy, it showed that several new archaeological sites are located close to the Lake Worth Beach. These contain evidence of indigenous people, such as burial sites and middens.
area that is now the Lake Worth Beach ( Florida , USA ) is one of several sites in Lake Worth that archaeologists believe contains artifacts dating back hundreds, and maybe thousands of years. Lake Worth resident and archaeologist Dorothy Block hopes the city will do more to ensure that developers will not destroy these sites.
Block became concerned when she read newspaper articles about a proposal for a 4-acres housing development on a ridge near Lake Osborne , a location that is likely to hold important and fragile archaeological remains.
"It's definitely a good place to dig because of its proximity to fresh water," said Block, "I would suggest that it is a prime location for a historic and prehistoric settlement."
As yet it is unclear wether the development will need to do any form of archaeological survey, for whilst in a letter to Community Development Director Sharon Jackson, Robert Carr of the Davie-based consulting firm Archaeological and Historical Conservancy Inc. wrote that before any land-use or zoning change is permitted or the land is cleared, an archaeological survey should be done. "This action is consistent with Florida's Growth Management Act and the city of Lake Worth and Palm Beach County Comprehensive Plan," wrote Carr, who discovered the Miami Circle, an ancient ruin carved by the Tequesta Indians thousands of years ago. However, a letter from county officials to the city indicates that there is "no data that would require a survey," Jackson said.
Block said she wants the city to do more to enforce its historic preservation ordinance. She said that anyone who comes across possible artifacts can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New attempt at World Heritage Status for the Silk Road.
18th October 2005
The ancient Silk Road is once to be the focus of international co-operation as China seeks to have the 2,000 year-old trade route listed as a World Heritage site.
Speaking during the 15th General Assembly and Scientific Symposium of International Council on Monuments and Sites in Xi'an , capital of Northwest China 's Shaanxi Province , Shan Jixiang, director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, revealed the scheme.
"We plan to make joint efforts with the relevant countries for the Silk Road to be listed as a World Heritage site as soon as possible," he said
Starting in Xi'an , the Silk Road ran all the way to the Netherlands, via South and Central Asia . With an overall length of more than 10,000 kilometres, the road has some 4,000 kilometres in China .
Founded during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 24), the Silk Road was an important bridge linking East and the West for economic and cultural exchange.
China's paper-making and printing technology, as well as gunpowder and other innovations, passed to the West, while Western mathematics, medicine and astronomy made their way Eastward.
"With such historical and cultural importance, the ancient road deserves to be on the World Heritage List," Shan said.
The application to list the ancient Silk Road as a World Heritage site will need the co-operation of more than 10 countries, Shan said.
Jing Feng, an official with UNESCO's World Heritage Centre, said the World Heritage Committee encourages international co-operation. Five countries in Central Asia have already expressed their support for the inclusion of the Silk Road on the list, he said.
However, according to Jing, organizing the logistics of the application could take a long time.
Although China , with 31 listed sites, is familiar with the heritage application, Jing said, countries in Central Asia lack such experience.
He suggested the countries concerned establish a " Silk Road " application group to research and co-ordinate the application.
Source: China Daily
Heritage campaigners begin campaign of direct action at Titnore Lane
14th October 2005
Titnore Lane ( East Sussex ) - UK
On Saturday, 29 October at 2pm , the newly formed `Titnore Emergency Action' is to hold a protest at the southern end of Titnore Lane that is likely to form the start of an occupation of Titnore lane. It is intended that any Titnore Lane occupation will be the base camp supporting actions all along the A27.
Titnore Lane is a winding old English lane between the A27 and A259, with it's overhanging canopy provided by mature oak trees and believed to have once been a droveway with origins in pre-history.
Soon all that history, charm and much biodiversity will be lost if the road builders get their way.
Proposed is a scheme to widen and straighten the A27, and will result in the loss of hundred of mature trees as well as the subsequent loss of habitat and heritage sites.
An added concern is the threat to the designation of the South Downs National Park if this scheme goes ahead. Campaigns during the 90's prevented the so-called ' South Coast Super Highway '. However there has been a recent resurgence in pressure from the roadbuilders calling for a "super highway" along the coast.