Yazd city inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage

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UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ― designated eleven new sites on Sunday and may continue to do so throughout next week until the annual World Heritage Committee meeting ends on July 12. 

The ancient city of Yazd in Iran is one of UNESCO’s new World Heritage Sites. The City of Yazd is located in the middle of the Iranian plateau, close to the Spice and Silk Roads. It bears living testimony to the use of limited resources for survival in the desert. Water is supplied to the city through a qanat system developed to draw underground water. The earthen architecture of Yazd has escaped the modernization that destroyed many traditional earthen towns, retaining its traditional districts, the qanat system, traditional houses, bazars, hammams, Zoroastrian temples and the historic garden of Dolat-abad.

Metal Thefts at Historic Buildings in England

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metalAs reported by BBC, Police in England has teamed up with heritage experts to crack down on gangs stealing valuable metal from churches and historic buildings.  The Local Government Association estimates metal thefts – of materials including electricity cables, railway lines, war memorials, road signs, children’s playground equipment and church roofs – cost the country as much as £770m a year.  In the case of historic buildings and churches, the thieves are stealing years of history and destroying English cultural heritage. 

Officers are working with Historic England to inspect scrap yards where thieves might try to sell lucrative metals such as lead and copper as reported by BBC. The police say that some dealerships are failing to carry out checks when they are offered metal for sale.  In the partnership between the police and experts, officers from Operation Crucible are taking members of Historic England along when they investigate scrapyards to help them understand how thieves operate.

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 requires all scrap dealers and motor salvage operators in England and Wales to apply for a license from their local authority and keep records on whom they buy from.  The council also has the power to assess whether each license applicant is a “suitable person” – including examining criminal convictions – and increased powers to carry out inspections.

International Day for Disaster Reduction

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nternational-dayOctober 13th celebrated the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR). This date has been designated by the UN Assembly to promote a global culture of disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.

The International Day for Disaster Reduction aims to demonstrate the different and varied ways that people and communities are working to reduce disaster risks and raise awareness about the importance of Disaster Risk Reduction. This day also serves to encourage all citizens and governments to actively participate in building societies and nations that are more resilient to disasters.

The theme chosen for this year was “Living with Disabilities and Disasters,” intending to draw attention to the importance of integrating the needs of people living with disabilities in decisions and policies for reducing the risks of disasters

Amateur Archaeologists Discover Monastery

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lindisfarneExpert archaeologists are excited but not surprised that an amateur archaeologist has unearthed what is believed to be evidence of one of England’s earliest Christian monasteries in a dig on Lindisfarne. The project was supported by £25,000 which was crowd-funded by 200 donors in North East England. Sixty of people who actually donated to the project took part in the dig.

Project leader Lisa Westcott Wilkins and Project co-director Dr David Petts, of Durham University call the project a “stunning find” according to BBC. The experts believe that what has been found date from around the time the monastery was built in 635AD. The monastery was thought to be near the later medieval priory, the ruins of which remain, but there had been “no clear archaeological evidence to back this assumption up” according to BBC.

Lindisfarne is home of the 1,300-year-old Lindisfarne Gospels. Northumberland’s patron saint, St Cuthbert was an abbot of its monastery. Lindisfarne is also famous for its mead, a honey-based liqueur.

The biggest archeological discovery of 2014

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turkey.jpgA massive 5,000 year old underground city has been discovered in Turkey by the country’s Housing Development Administration (TOKI), according to reports Sunday.

Erdinç Çelikkan reports on what could potentially be the year’s largest architectural discovery, an underground city located in Turkey’s Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir.

The newly discovered city joins other such ancient cities found in the area, thought his one may end up being the largest of all the cities found so far.

Heritage Center Planned for Cairo

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Egypt Construction

Even though Unesco has declined to comment on reports (published in the Egyptian press as well as the Art Newspaper) that it plans to set up a regional center for world heritage in Cairo, the news has been widely reported.  A few months ago Unesco’s director general Irina Bokova discussed establishing such a center in the Egyptian capital with Mohamed Ibrahim, the minister of state for antiquities, during a recent meeting. This was reported at that time by the press and WCHV too.

Specialists at the planned venue would assist in protecting archaeological sites in Africa included on the World Heritage list. African archaeologists would also receive training in conserving and studying artifacts and monuments. 

Teen Defaces Egypt’s Ancient Temple

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Egypt Temple Graffiti

As reported by Associated Press (AP), a Chinese teenager who defaced an ancient temple in Egypt with graffiti has come under major criticism at home in China. The public as well as press have widely criticized and commented on the incident while emphasizing that the Chinese need to cultivate a good image overseas as more Chinese travel abroad.

The teen scratched “Ding Jinhao visited here” in Chinese on a temple wall in the ancient city of Luxor.  The world found out about the incident as another Chinese tourist posted a photo of it on a popular microblog with the comment: “My saddest moment in Egypt. Ashamed and unable to show my face.” as reported by AP.

Many criticized Ding’s act as an embarrassment to the country and even the People’s Daily, which is a government sponsored paper echoed on the sentiments and criticisms.  The outcry prompted Ding’s parents to publicly apologize.

The most interesting comment came from a well known and prominent journalist with Shanghai Television, who wrote on his microblog: “Why there are so many citizens who go abroad and humiliate us? How many generations will it take to change this kind of behavior?”

This incident happened as Chinese tourism overseas has seen an explosion in growth over the past decade, fueled by rising incomes and the relaxation of government restrictions on citizens’ ability to travel abroad.  China is now ranked the fastest-growing source of international tourists in the world according to the U.N.’s World Tourism Organization. The organization said the volume of international trips by Chinese tourists has grown from 10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012 and most importantly this accompanies a nearly eightfold increase in spending. 

What is most impressive in terms of economic impact and spending in those countries that are the destinations for Chinese tourists is that China also surpassed Germany to become the largest spender in international tourism, with tourists’ expenditure amounting to a record $102 billion.  However, Chinese tourists, who mostly travel with tour groups, are frequently criticized for rude behavior.

Officials in Egypt have reported that the graffiti has now been removed and the wall has been cleaned and restored to the original condition.

http://news.yahoo.com/chinese-teen-defaces-egypt-temple-135035477.html

Total Oil Won’t Drill in Virunga World Heritage Site

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virungaEarlier this month, (May, 2013) the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reported that the French company, Total Oil has made an assurance that it won’t explore for oil within the boundaries of Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Paris, chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie responded to questions posed by WWF-France by confirming that Total is making a “commitment to respect the current limits” of the park, Africa’s oldest World Heritage Site.

Virunga National Park is recognized by UNESCO and the DRC government as a place of outstanding natural value. WWF stated that environmental experts and WWF are pleased that Total has given this clear and comprehensive assurance that they won’t conduct any oil exploration inside Virunga National Park.

African Elephants Slaughtered at a World Heritage Site

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tusksAs reported by BBC earlier this month, a heavily armed gang has killed an unknown number of elephants at a world heritage site in the Central African Republic. According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the ivory poachers were seen using a scientist’s observation platform to shoot the animals, which gather there in large numbers. Up to 200 elephants are said to gather daily in one location to drink mineral salts present in the sands.

The site is in the Dzanga-Ndoki Park which is located in the south-western corner of the Central African Republic (CAR), where it borders Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. It is described as a unique habitat for forest elephants in particular.

WWF issued a warning that a group of 17 individuals, some armed with heavy-calibre rifles, had entered the park and was heading for the Dzanga-bai, an area known locally as the “village of elephants”.  It is believed that the raiders were Sudanese ivory poachers who have been trying to operate in the area and are now taking advantage of the lawless state of the country.

The elephant raid has also alarmed international conservation authorities. African countries have seen a serious spike in the illegal killing of elephants because of the high demand for ivory especially from China which is now at the highest level in 16 years.

Earlier this year (March, 2013) the Thai prime minister promised to outlaw Thailand’s domestic ivory trade.  Yingluck Shinawatra’s announcement at the opening of wildlife trade meeting, Cites in Bangkok, came as African elephants are once again in danger of extinction. During the Cites meeting, a video address from the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, appealing to nearly 200 governments, to tackle the illegal wildlife trade was shown.

It has been reported that more than half of ivory on the streets of China is illegal, and that is in spite of reports that the government of China is trying to control the illegal trade.  However, China is more and more under pressure and scrutiny. Guardian reported that in 2011 more than 150 Chinese citizens were arrested across Africa and according to the Kenya Wildlife Service, 90% of ivory seized at Kenya’s airports involves Chinese citizens.