ASOR is dedicated to promoting knowledge of the peoples and cultures of the Near East. Often we focus on recent archaeological fieldwork and academic analysis of finds and texts, last month’s focus on Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls being a prime example of the latter. However, other parts of the archaeological process are just as important to study and discuss. We have chosen to highlight those aspects related to cultural heritage during October here on the blog. Continue reading
The recent upsurge in high profile news stories, in Time and other mass media outlets, about the looting of archaeological sites in Syria has been accompanied by the usual public handwringing by archaeologists and heritage protection organizations. The terrible impact on the world’s cultural patrimony is bewailed, and the heads of UNESCO, the World Monuments Fund, and so on call upon the international community to stop the destruction. What is most depressing, for those of us who study the history of cultural heritage protection in times of armed conflict, is how similar these public statements are to those made in the runup to and the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Thousands of looting pits pockmarking Iraq bear witness to how ineffectual those earlier pronouncements were, and yet the archaeological and heritage community continues to issue them.