As reported by BBC, yesterday (28th Jan, 2013) (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21227053), as the French and Malian troops reached Timbuktu, they found that thousands of ancient manuscripts had been destroyed by the rebels. The reports also show that militants also destroyed a library of ancient manuscripts, dating back to the 13th Century. The video footage of the library shows charred books and empty boxes. The library, the Ahmed Baba institute, held about 30,000 manuscripts, and included documents about many centuries of life in Mali and neighboring countries.
About six months ago, the UNESCO reported that the rebels were destroying the ancient city of Timbuktu and the government of Mali also petitioned the UNESCO for help and for the preservation of ancient and national heritage sites like the Tomb of Askia in Gao (http://www.policymic.com/articles/11190/al-qaeda-groups-are-destroying-timbuktu-a-unesco-world-heritage-site-in-mali)
Cologne Cathedral, is a UNESCO national heritage site since 1995 and one of Germany’s famous landmarks was built between 1248 and 1880. The cathedral was heavily damaged by the Allied bombers during World War II but survived the war and now is one of most visited sites in Germany by tourists. However, the Cathedral could be in danger being greatly damaged one more time. The building has started to shake from the underground trains from a new station and the tunnels underneath the Cathedral.
At this time the city of Cologne, the transport and city representatives and the Cathedral officials have appointed a working group to look into the matter and solutions including for the trains to slow down when they are running under the building.
The Qeshm’s Geo-Park is the only Middle Eastern geo-park that has been listed by UNESCO. This park because of negligence and standards that these parks need to have has received a red warning card from the UNESCO. The red card is given as a warning that unless the list of warnings are not followed and corrected the park could be taken off the UNESCO’s list of natural national heritage list.
After giving a yellow card (which is the first warning) to the management of the park and giving them 2 years to help and bring the park to the original standards and up keeping, the park was given a red card in Jan 2013. This was due to the lack of the response from the management of the park.
UNESCO had asked for a number of things to be done to bring the park back to the original conditions under which the park was listed as a natural national heritage park. These include: 1) creating signs throughout the park for better guidance of visitors, b) building more roads for the tourists to get to the park, c) creating hotels or places for tourists to stay close to the park, d) unapproved structures that were either blocking views or access to the park, e) close proximity to mines that were established later and after the UNESCO’s designation, f) destruction of beaches and selling of sand by the management of the park.
Mr. Bijan Darreh-shuri, one of the important people natural national heritage in Iran and the person who had with tremendous effort and work created this Geo-park in Iran, in a conversation with Save Passargad.com said “that the managers of Qeshm did not realize the great importance of this area for tourism and did not do what was needed. “When we were there our management team was very strong and responsible and felt responsible before the people and the future of Iran and for that area. Qeshm is an amazing geological area with vegetation and ecological importance that is about 100,000 acres. For example Qeshm annually hosts 400 white pelican a year and these birds are so rare and currently extinct as only 1000 of them remain in the world. And Qeshm is also one of the areas of the world that still remains a habitat for turtles. … But unfortunately after we left, other people came in and did not feel the same. Their irresponsible behavior led to the park being delisted by the UNESCO. ” Mr. Darreh-Shuri said. In spite of this, Mr.Darreh-shuri says that:” I am positive that if the managers even now attempt to rectify and correct the past mistakes, the UNESCO will once again list the Qeshm’s Geo-park as a national environmental heritage.”
Syria’s World Heritage Sites damaged in the war.
Several articles and reports published in late 2012 paint a grim picture for Syria’s cultural heritage sites (http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2012/oct/05/aleppo-souk-syria-destroyed-war) and (http://world.time.com/2012/09/12/syrias-looted-past-how-ancient-artifacts-are-being-traded-for-guns/#ixzz26ujLHJ8C.
It is true that the greatest loss from wars and conflicts are human losses. Syria’s unbelievable human toll has been over 60,000 deaths, over 250,000 refugees and 1.2 million internally displaced people. In addition to this tremendous human suffering, all the six Syria’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites have been damaged. These include Archeological sites of northern Syria.
Jean Perrot, an internationally well known French archeologist was born in 1920. He studied archeology at the Ecole du Louvre where he specialized in Syrian archaeology. In 1945, he entered École biblique et archéologique française in Jerusalem to continue his studies during which time he researched ancient sites in Iran, Israel and Turkey. Perrot went to Iran for the first time in 1968 and took over as the director of the Delegation Archéologique Français (DAFI) while researching and studying ancient Iranian Sites in collaboration with the Iranian Center of Archaeological Research, and experts from France and the United States. His most significant and well known work was in Susa (Shush) and Jafar Abad and one of his notable discoveries is the headless statue of Darius which is now housed in the National Museum of Iran in Tehran. He continued his work until the Iranian revolution in 1979. While in Iran he was also a professor at the Sorbonne, Paris and a researcher at the CNRS, France. The most recent work that Perrot has done, titled, Darius’ Palace in Susa, (Le palais de Darius à Susa) was published in 2010. Jean Perrot was married to an Iranian woman and passed away on December 25th, 2012.
(photo credit: AP/The National Library of Israel)
The Jewish manuscripts which are believed to about 1,000 years old reveal details of a thriving Jewish society in what was then parts of Persian Empire.(http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/15/world/middleeast/documents-illuminate-jewish-life-in-ancient-muslim-empire.html?_r=0). The manuscripts were reportedly found in a cave in the mountainous northern area of Afghanistan and look very well preserved possibly because of the dry conditions in the cave. The manuscripts show details about the cultural, economic and religious life of the Jewish society at the time. The documents reportedly contain writings in Hebrew, Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic, and the unique Judea-Persian language of that era.