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.
Looting, the antiquities trade, and objects without provenience are all issues archaeologists and the public must face, at the very least when confronting objects in museums with ambiguous labels and in many cases when our sites are struck or objects without history or context are presented as groundbreaking discoveries. Engaging stakeholders, local and descendant, is another part of the archaeological process, and collaborating with local people, through oral history projects or employment opportunities is a way not only of making the past accessible, but helping to protect it. The need for preservation and long-term planning alongside excavation is a crucial but often neglected truth of archaeology, but one ASOR-affiliated project directors are working to address. These and other topics will be address by our contributors this month.
We have started Cultural Heritage Month with a post from Lawrence Rothfield on a pressing current issue—heritage protection in conflict zones—and his suggestions for what we (archaeologists, heritage professionals, and the public) can actually do when we see situations like that unfolding in Syria. More posts on a variety of heritage topics will follow every week throughout October so be sure to check back frequently. Let us know what you think, in the comments, on facebook, on twitter, and even via email. Tell us if you would like to contribute a post as well.
Jennifer Fitzgerald is an MA student in the Archaeology Department at Boston University and a publications assistant and membership specialist at ASOR.
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