CHAMP Colloquium at AIA Annual Meeting 2015, New Orleans, LA

Session 6G: Sat, 10 Jan, 1:45-4:45pm



TITLE: “Building Capacity For Global Cultural Property Protection”

DISCUSSANT: Dr. Laurie Rush, US Army Cultural Resource Manager

PARTICIPANTS: Ms. Corinne Wegener, Smithsonian Institution; Dr. Sarah Parcak; Dr. Laura D’Alessandro and Dr. Gil Stein; Dr. Jeffrey Altschul; Dr. Katharyn Hanson, Oriental Institute; Dr. Jennifer Ramsey, State University of New York, and Dr. C. Brian Rose, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

ABSTRACT: This colloquium will explore various methods, techniques, and opportunities for building capacity to protect cultural property with host nations. Despite the conflicts and revolutions that have endangered so many sites, museums, and artifacts, there are many programs that help host nations develop and grow their own internal capacity to protect and conserve their cultural property. Many universities, museums, and government and non-government organizations have designed cooperative ventures with their counterparts in host nations. Speakers will address training programs, site and museum policing, safe construction methods, and conservation techniques. Audience members will have an opportunity to discuss these topics with the speakers after their presentations.

Dr. Laurie Rush
Ft Drum Cultural Resource Manager

 Ms. Corine Wegener
Smithsonian Institution
“Museums Facing Conflict: A Regional Workshop for West African Museum Professionals”

In 2012, jihadist groups occupying northern Mali destroyed, looted and vandalized a number of cultural heritage sites, including the famous saints’ mausoleums and manuscript collections of Timbuktu. After the jihadists were pushed out by the French military in early 2013, the Smithsonian Institution was one of many organizations invited to assist with Malian cultural recovery. The result was, “Museums Facing Armed Conflict: A Regional Workshop for West African Museum Professionals.” This week-long workshop was organized by the Smithsonian in partnership with the International Council of Museums, the National Museum of Mali and Malian Ministry of Culture, UNESCO, and the French Ministry of Culture. Museum professionals from Mali and eight West African nations met with international facilitators to discuss disaster risk reduction, security, and community engagement and peace-building in museums. This workshop could serve as a model to develop resilient institutions faced with instability and armed conflict.

Dr. Sarah Parcak
University of Alabama at Birmingham
“Support to Egypt During Their Internal Conflict”

There is major global interest in the issue of archaeological site looting, with new reports from the Middle East nearly every day about stolen and recovered objects. What specialists have not done, however, is quantify in a scientifically valid format the total amount of site looting in each country affected (Egypt, Syria, Libya). In addition, no one has successful tracked the looting networks from the ground to the owner’s homes/museums. The best way to do this is with using high-resolution geospatial datasets. This information can be used to locate archaeological sites affected by looting, and to show governments and international agencies like UNESCO the full extent of affected sites. This has major implications for the protection of archaeological sites for future generations.

This lecture will focus specifically on Egypt, which has seen a 100% increase in archaeological site looting since January 2011. It will focus on many of Egypt’s major sites, and discuss the potential reasons behind the looting, as well as solutions. This presentation will discuss a methodology for the mapping of looting pits using a combination of new and archived high resolution satellite imagery. Google Earth will be discussed in terms of its crowdsourcing possibilities, how we process the imagery using standard satellite image programs to enhance the visibility of the looting pits will be discussed, as well as how ESRI products (GIS) can help to quantify and map each pit (compared to before imagery or a time series of images taken over the past 4 years).

 Dr. Gil J. Stein and Dr. Laura D’Alessandro
Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago
“The National Museum of Afghanistan and the Oriental Institute: Lessons Learned for Building a Sustainable Partnership”

The partnership between the National Museum of Afghanistan and the Oriental Institute is a three-year, U.S. State Department-funded program to develop a database, conduct conservation assessments, train staff and carry out the first full inventory of the Museum’s holdings in the wake of 35 years of war, looting, and devastation by the Taliban. Building on an earlier training program for Afghan conservators in Chicago in 2007, the current partnership in Kabul focuses on simplicity, appropriate technology, and sustainability as guiding principles. In this paper, we describe the project and the strategies used to develop and implement its infrastructure. We argue that successful capacity building for cultural heritage preservation must: a) take place in-country; b) involve local stake-holders from the outset as full partners in developing the work plan that fits local needs and constraints; c) train local partners through extended hands-on experience; and d) implement systems that will continue to be used by the heritage professionals of the host country even after the foreign partners leave.

Dr. Jeffrey Altschul
Statistical Research, Inc.
“Protecting the Past, Preserving the Present: The Oyu Tolgoi Cultural Heritage Program”

Mongolia is a country rich in culture and steeped in history. Like all nations, it struggles with finding a balance between maintaining traditions and historical sites and developing its natural resources. The objective of the Oyu Tolgoi (OT) cultural heritage plan (CHP) is to allow Mongolia and Mongolians to define a process by which their heritage is not only preserved, but enhanced at the same time that the country’s natural resources are appropriately developed. The objective of this study is to create a cultural heritage program specific to Ömnögovi province. The goal is for the OT CHP to serve as a model for the country.

Dr. Katharyn Hanson
University of Pennylvania Cultural Heritage Center
“Site management support and training for local agencies, archaeologists, and site guards (conflict and post-conflict)”

In areas of crisis those who work at cultural heritage sites are the first line of defense against damage. For archaeological sites in particular it is vitally important that local agencies, archaeologists, and site guards have the equipment and skills to map, monitor, and maintain their sites. This paper explores several recent training efforts in cultural heritage management in post-conflict and crisis areas.

Dr. Jennifer Ramsay (substituting for Dr. Morag Kersel)
State University of New York
“Drones for Good: Using UAVs to Monitor Archaeological Site Looting along the Dead Sea Plain in Jordan”

In cooperation with the Jordanian Department of Antiquities under the umbrella project of Follow the Pots, the Landscapes of the Dead Research Project is using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAV] to study archaeological site looting in order to better understand both the ancient and modern uses of an Early Bronze Age mortuary site. A small fixed wing UAV provides a platform for stable, low elevation aerial photography, making it possible to document looting and destruction at Fifa, as well as generate spatial data for digital mapping. The early seasons of aerial site monitoring are part of a five-year plan to revisit the site at the same time each year to investigate change over time and to assess the potential impact of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities anti-looting campaigns and local community outreach programs.

Dr. C. Brian Rose
Curator, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
“Capacity building at Gordion”

The increased road and building construction throughout Turkey during the last decade has also entailed an increase in the number of earth-moving machines, many of which have been used in the looting of archaeological sites. Areas that had escaped looting in the past are now at risk, which means that new strategies for the year-long protection of archaeological sites are essential. This talk explores community outreach programs to the village of Yassıhöyük, in which the archaeological site of Gordion is located, in order to increase awareness of and respect for the ancient settlement and its inhabitants. Turkish and American archaeologists collaborate on site interpretation through community forums and promotion of tourism.

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