Cultural Heritage Workshop at AIA Annual Meeting, JAN 2019, San Diego, CA

San Diego, California
Saturday, 5 JAN

TITLE: Current Events and Heritage Protection: Efforts to Protect Culture at Risk
MODERATOR: Brian I. Daniels, University of Pennsylvania Museum

SPEAKERS: Dr. C. Brian Rose, University Museum of Pennsylvania; Dr. Sarah Parcak, University of Alabama; Dr. Laurie Rush, US Army Cultural Heritage Manager; Dr. Elizabeth S. Greene, Brock University; Ms. Laura Childs, CHAMP Secretary; and Dr. Brian Daniels, University Museum of Pennsylvania.

Purpose of Workshop (from workshop abstract): “Current events have amply demonstrated that archaeological sites and historic structures that compose the cultural landscapes of the Mediterranean and beyond are at risk from violence, disasters, and neglect. Site looting and cultural destruction in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan continues, and there is a need for grounded discussions about these events among the academic community. Tragically, the present situation threatens to overtake even the most conscientious efforts of archaeologists, museum curators, and conservators to be responsible stewards of global heritage. This forum will provide an opportunity to update colleagues about issues related to cultural heritage loss and protection measures in crisis areas.”

Dr. Brian Rose discussed the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage in Erbil, Iraq. It educates Arab, Kurdish, Sunni, Shia, and Christian Iraqi students on the fundamentals of conservation to international standards in four six-week course modules and a two-week practicum, with graduates eligible for more advanced courses. Education includes disaster management, cultural property protection (CPP) methods, and use of computer technology and databases. Prior to 1980, Iraq had a robust cultural heritage sector but it was decimated by a combination of wars, a repressive and indifferent government, and extremist terrorist actions. In 2008, the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage and American professionals began a cultural heritage education program with land and facilities from the Kurdish government. In 2015, the program was restarted following a temporary shutdown due to the invasion by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The program was managed by the University of Delaware and is now managed by the Smithsonian. In May and August, the Smithsonian and the University of Pennsylvania will manage a program in disaster response.

Dr. Sarah Parcak explained her Global Explorer non-profit program (link: ) that protects global heritage sites through satellite remote sensing. It is based in Birmingham, AL and has 80,000 users around the world to “create a twenty-first century army of global explorers.” The program uses innovative techniques to map, protect, and preserve sites. Dr. Parcak talked about how, to accomplish this goal, she had to delve into the world of website design with a focus on what, how, and for whom the platform is being designed. The questions of how to engage a crowd and how to both assure that you get good content from them and provide good content to them in return were addressed by designing the platform to be discursive in nature. Anyone worldwide can look at the satellite images on the website to find and pinpoint potential sites. The data is then sent to experts worldwide and to subject matter experts in-country to survey the sites on the ground. According to Dr. Parcak, the most successful user is Doris, a disabled ninety year-old stay-at-home grandmother. Another successful user is Maha, a seven year-old from India. Thanks to Global Explorer, thousands of anthropogenic sites have been found. The data has been given to specialists on the ground. A terrific example is the Peruvian government-supported effort that found fifteen new Nazca figures through satellite research and ground surveys.

Dr. Elizabeth S. Greene described the endangered cultural sites in the US, using the Bear Ears and Escalante Grand Staircase monuments as an example. When the Interior Dept. recently downsized these sites, they became unprotected from human looting, economic exploitation, and environmental destruction. Now, all such sites and monuments in the US are similarly vulnerable. The AIA was founded in 1879 to investigate and protect archaeological sites in the US and was an advocacate for the 1906 Antiquities Act. Dr. Greene discussed the AIA’s return to its roots to protect and preserve things here in the United States. The AIA is trying to leverage societies, members-at-large and local populations to encourage people to advocate for the protection of cultural heritage at home as well as around the world. The Antiquities Act is flexible enough to cover many sites. The examples of the Bear’s Ears National Monument and the Escalante National Monument show both the varied nature of archaeological sites and the value of archaeological landscapes. By breaking up such sites, archaeological landscapes are replaced with only isolated pieces of the whole landscape.

Dr. Laurie Rush discussed her latest efforts with NATO and UNESCO. She described the digital cultural property protection (CPP) best practices handbook that she recently wrote for NATO to use wherever NATO forces operate. In addition, she has engaged in an initiative to develop cultural property protection practices for NATO’s civilian and environmental planning. She pointed out that, once a policy is adopted by NATO, member countries and partners are expected to adopt that policy. UNESCO has now adopted such practices for its own operations. CPP training is being provided by UNESCO to military forces, peacekeepers, and national and local police forces. Dr. Rush has gained the support of her military commanders at Ft. Drum, NY, to use her CPP principles and methods for 10th Mountain Division training exercises. Together, these efforts provide examples of working for the “subversive” institutionalization of CPP. She encourages as many military personnel as possible worldwide to be taught such CPP skills.

Ms. Laura Childs discussed the benefits of collaboration between the many groups and individuals involved worldwide to protect endangered cultural property. Two such groups were highlighted: the Cultural Heritage by Archaeology and Military Panel (CHAMP) and the Military Cultural Heritage Advisory Group (MilCHAG). CHAMP is comprised of professional civilian experts, military personnel worldwide, government and non-government agencies, and other interested persons. CHAMP acts as a nexus to keep groups apprised of each other’s activities and promote joint operations. MilCHAG is similarly composed but more focused on daily operations, helping military commanders and their troops to plan and perform CPP in the field. She also gave an overview of the history of CHAMP and MilCHAG. In 2003, there were many distinct players within the realm of cultural property protection efforts in conflict zones and it became recognized that they needed to formalize and to network. Both groups used to have separate websites. However, A new joint CHAMP and MilCHAG website is almost ready to go live. (

Dr. Brian Daniels then discussed the history of US cultural property protection laws from 1978 to 1990. The 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act mandates the return of any native skeletons and artifacts to their respective tribes. The 1979 Archaeological Resources Protection Act and the 1983 Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act protect American Indian heritage sites and antiquities. In 2004, the Emergency Protection for Iraqi Cultural Antiquities and the Consolidation Appropriation Act were written to protect Iraqi sites and antiquities from being looted. In 2008, America ratified the 1954 Hague Act to protect cultural heritage in war zones. In 2015, Section 1273 of the National Defense Authorization required the Dept. of Defense to make a detailed report about how it enacts the Hague Act. In 2016, The Protect and Preserve International Property Act required CPP, prevention of looting, protection of sites, and provided for the lawful exchange of international cultural property. Section 1279 of the DoD established the US governmental CPP responsibilities for all agencies. In 2018, the CPP language in the UNSC 2100 was removed, thus endangering cultural and historical heritage in Mali. The DOD’s Office for Stability and Humanitarian Affairs is writing a white paper on cultural property protection and the Department of Defense. Dr. Daniels also pointed out that there is a need for new laws to keep cultural property from being traded in the US.

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