A nation's cultural heritage represents its past, its present and its path to the future, but for many years, the cultural heritage in or adjacent to war and conflict zones has been subject to continual assault, both deliberate and unintended.
This book presents papers delivered at the NATO Advanced Research Workshop entitled “Cultural heritage’s safety and security in zones of war or instability”, hosted online by the University of Rome from 25 to 27 November 2020. NATO has always been a leading player in the protection of cultural property (CPP) in the areas in which it intervenes, indeed, the protection of cultural property and common heritage is part of NATO’s core values. In addition to this, the illicit trade in antiquities and archaeological finds represents another danger to cultural heritage and can help to finance the terrorist groups that manage to seize these assets. The workshop aimed to explore ways to protect and safeguard cultural heritage in war zones or from terrorist attacks, and a group of international experts were invited to contribute presentations on selected topics of direct relevance to the processes in NATO with regard to CPP. Topics included: the experiences of international institutions; conservation and restoration; and countermeasures, technologies and examples of successful interventions.
The book raises awareness of the importance of safeguarding cultural heritage and sets out ways of tackling the problem. It will be of interest to all those working in the field of protecting cultural heritage in unstable areas.
This article is the result of a long, general reflection on all Cultural Heritage in the world, and in particular on the small and large problems related to it. The Cultural Heritage of humankind has been subject to increasing assault, both deliberate and unintended, in war and conflict zones. With this article, we want to highlight the importance of increasing awareness of the risks faced by Cultural Heritage that persist in war zones and unstable areas of the globe, which have prompted us to create this project as an Advanced Research Workshop.
This short article describes the historical discussions regarding the definition of cultural genocide and the failed attempts to introduce it as a distinct crime under international law. Though the protection of cultural heritage has been included in several international regulations and it is now under the jurisdiction of many institutions, the lack of a specific identification of cultural genocide as a crime against humanity represents a subject of interest for international jurists. The relevance of such an accomplishment is today discussed as possible solution to the widespread necessity to prevent all threat posed to cultural heritage.
This paper examines the issue of illicit trade in antiquities and its connection to conflict and terrorism financing. The focus is on the Middle East, and particularly Syria and Iraq, as a “source region” of the artifacts, and on the efforts of the United States and the European Union to fight this illicit trade through national initiatives and international cooperation. The paper concentrates on changes in the political response to this problem since 2001, when evidence started accumulating of the importance of the ‘blood antiquities-terrorism’ nexus, which increases the impact of negative externalities of the trade transforming illicit art trafficking into a major threat to international security.
The article discusses two of episodes in which I was directly involved. The first concerns the protection and safeguarding of Orthodox monasteries in the territory of Kosovar starting in 1999 during the NATO operation in Kosovo. In particular, the Visoki Decani Monastery is a large monastery of the Serbian Orthodox Church 12 kilometers south of the city of Peć where the Italian Army Brigade had its headquarters. The Monastery is the largest medieval church in the Balkans and contains the largest surviving Byzantine fresco. The second concerns the reconstruction and reopening of the Mostar Bridge in 2004 during the NATO operation in Bosnia Herzegovina. The bridge called Stari Most is a 16th-century Ottoman bridge in the city of Mostar that spans the Neretva River to join the two parts of the city divided by the river. It was destroyed during the Bosnian war on the morning of 9 November 1993. Under the control of the NATO peacekeeping units it was rebuilt and reopened on 2004.
Cultural property is always damaged, and frequently destroyed, during armed conflict. Mostly this is ‘collateral’ (i.e., not intentional) damage, but not-infrequently the damage and destruction are targeted and intentional. This contribution discusses the work of the international NGO the Blue Shield and its work to mitigate such damage and destruction during armed conflict and following natural and/or human-made disaster. While the Blue Shield always prioritises the protection of people, it argues that the protection of an individual’s or community’s cultural property is almost indivisible from their own protection as it provides them with a sense of place, identity, and belonging, and through these, wellbeing, giving people a reason for living. It argues that action can be taken through partnership between the heritage, humanitarian, and uniformed sectors to help develop healthy, peaceful, secure, sustainable, communities.
The problem of protecting cultural heritage in war areas is increasingly demanding attention. The case of damages occurred to Syrian antiquities is notorious and leads to propose some considerations from an archaeological and scientific perspective. The first step is to figure out the real entity of injured sites and the current state of destruction, so as to plan any further action. The case studies of the sites of Dura Europos, Apamea, Palmyra and Bostra, all of which were highly damaged, are presented. The second fundamental step must be the collection of detailed information on the present day situation and on the extent of damages and pillaging. This will allow for setting up both short term and long-term interventions. The main objective is that of giving back life to damaged monuments and archaeological sites that are significant not only for Syria itself, but for the whole international community. However, the “restoration” of Cultural Heritage Property can be carried out in various ways, that must be selected carefully according to the single specific situations.
Antonio Palucci, Michele Arturo Caponero, Luisa Caneve, Stefano Di Frischia, Massimo Francucci, Massimiliano Guarneri, Valeria Spizzichino
62 - 79
Cultural heritage protection and safeguarding is a clear problem for the worldwide community because the legacy and identity of communities has to be kept alive and transmitted to future generations. To this end optical technologies have an important role to play in defining state-of-the-art conservation, guiding restauration, and exploring new opportunities in virtual and augmented realities where other complementary information can be merged. ENEA has developed different laser-based sensors for remote and local diagnostics that have already been deployed in field campaigns implementing different spectroscopic techniques that supply prompt information in real time and are non-destructive and non-invasive as regards the artifact being studied. Here the technical characteristics and performances of the tools are briefly described, and examples provided of monitoring applications of paintings, statues, woods, metals and structural observations (tensions and vibrations).
Cultural Heritage objects located in turbulent areas with a significant risk of terrorist attacks or inside a war zone are at risk of suffering damages similar to those in scenarios of severe seismic events, which are associated with partial or total building collapse and the subsequent need for monitoring, consolidation and successive reconstruction. To this end the availability of digital data collected by optical and spectroscopic laser scanners before the catastrophic event and stored as digital high resolution 2D and 3D maps can be a unique valuable support for future reconstruction. Conversely, continuous fiber glass monitoring may ensure reference data to evaluate the event impact and aid in planning consolidation. Examples of successful application of high-performance ENEA laser scanner prototypes in central Italy on monuments exposed to severe seismic risk are reported so as to illustrate the importance of storing quality 3D optical data before the event. The importance of fiber sensor monitoring during and after a seismic event in the same area is also shown from the collected data. Different examples of 3D reconstructions based on optical and spectroscopic data obtained within regional projects dealing with archaeological fragments (Roman frescoes and relief sculpture) are discussed, as regards their use in reconstructing from fragments in the aftermath of a catastrophic event.
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