Heritage Liaison Group Synthesis
Archaeology as part of Heritage
Heritage and its archaeological components are essential to cultural, educational and economic development of each country as supported by the UNESCO Conventions. The sustainable long-term preservation of the results of archaeological research is crucial to the future, requiring the conservation of the remains and their documentation. For a discipline whose research practice partly destroys its object, it is therefore a responsibility and a commitment to document, assess and promote the uncovered heritage remains, to share and disseminate information at all levels and to reach out and engage with local entities and communities.
Principles of Heritage Liaison Group
The Heritage Liaison Group is dedicated to encourage an archaeology with a holistic approach committed to heritage. It will suggest activities focusing on raising awareness about heritage related matters, developing links and actions with the archaeological teams, in support to heritage towards the Countries of activity; interacting with the international community in different circumstances related to heritage questions.
Together with the Archaeology LG, different workshops and a think-tank will be launched to define more precisely the specific roles and tools that can be used by the Heritage Liaison Group to develop its future commitment, with full collaboration with the other Liaison Groups of ARWA.
Heritage Liaison Group in action
The suggested actions of the Group aim at fostering the building of an organic and systemic relationship between Archaeology and Heritage which is an essential step to back up actions of Enhancement, Protection and Promotion of cultural assets which may be considered important components of any research carried out on cultural heritage.
A – Protection
Participation in the identification of the assets through research
The Heritage Liaison Group suggests to consider the data produced by any research as part of the heritage of the Countries of activity and encourages the open exchange of knowledge and data also through implementing documentation practices which take into account research purposes as well as the needs and rules of the Countries of activity.
Support to heritage protection in the Countries of activity
Research teams, local or foreign, should be aware of the legal circumstances and preventive management plans applied by the Countries of activity to heritage, and propose to cooperate with the stakeholders, when circumstances allow this possibility. The Heritage Liaison Group wishes to raise more awareness among field archaeologists about the management aspects of heritage sites and cultural landscapes carried out by the Countries of activity, and among funding organizations about the importance of supporting protection and promotion of heritage assets.
The Heritage Liaison Group may contribute in supporting local or international campaigns in raising awareness about the protection of heritage sites and cultural landscapes and its members may take an active role as advisors in the worldwide fight against illicit trafficking and in informing the colleagues solicited or considering publishing illicit antiquities of the possible consequences of their acts as concerns the ethical principles of the profession.
Taking care of heritage assets with interventions aimed at preventing their deterioration
The Heritage Liaison Group will encourage preventive protection measures of heritage. Moreover, the Group will promote the principle to share protection and conservation knowledge, approaches and reports among the teams and with the Countries of activity as well to support training of local staff.
Taking care of intangible heritage with interventions aimed at preventing their loss
The Heritage Liaison Group encourages actions for the preservation of technical traditions, craftsmanship and skills echoing the technique archaeology discovers.
B – Enhancement, promotion and development
Alongside the Countries where they work, archaeologists may play a major role for the enhancement of cultural heritage. The Heritage Liaison Group will help to promote a respectful “use” of the archaeological heritage in its pedagogic significance, the promotion and the development of cultural heritage, taking into account the necessity of relaying it to the future generations as well as its capacities in terms of sustainable economic development.
The Heritage Liaison Group may be devoted to raise awareness among the local and international community about the importance of heritage enhancement in the perspective of development, and to stimulate and support a network for collaborations between the countries (cultural, educational, heritage and tourism institutions), the archaeological teams, the brother museums around the world, the international institutions, the NGO’s, the foundations or the ongoing International Projects focusing on cultural heritage at the core in combination with education, community outreach, audience engagement, promotion and sustainable development.
Studying cultural heritage concepts into the local society to contribute in formulating socio-cultural approaches that could enhance the protection strategies of endangered territories is also considered a relevant aspect.
C- Natural disasters
The Heritage Liaison Group may contribute to raise awareness about the importance of assessing risks caused by natural disasters, implementing preventive plan and mitigation measures, and creating a solid documentation of heritage at risk which will be the foundation of future conservation and presentation activities.
D – Conflicts
As any other cultural heritage, archaeological heritage is threatened in periods of conflict. As an association of independent professionals ARWA may provide documentation and advices when solicited. As a non-political body, it can be a bridge and be a professional, scientific and ethical voice helping during crisis, with a conscious knowledge of the challenges that professionals may face in such circumstances.
News from the Heritage Liaison Group
Following the catastrophic blast that occurred in Beirut the 4th of August 2020, the Heritage Liaison Group discussed the possible ways of helping our colleagues in Lebanon. One possibility would be stimulating and reinforcing an international network in order to evaluate the situation and identify the ways by which help could be brought by professionals in such dramatic circumstances.
The first operative step was taken with the Japanese Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (https://www.jcic-heritage.jp/en/), a Japanese hub for international cooperation in cultural heritage (Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs). Following the proposition by Masashi Abe, a member of the Heritage Liaison Group, the meeting was set up with the subcommittee for West Asia, one of the seven subcommittees of this organization, and was held on the 2nd of September 2020, online.
Three members from ARWA Heritage LG participated in the meeting: Masashi Abe (Japanese Consortium), Anis Chaaya (Lebanon University) and Sophie Cluzan (Louvre Museum). Lebanon was represented by Jeanine Abdul Massih (Lebanon University), head of ICOMOS Lebanon, and by Anis Chaaya.
From the Japanese side, not only specialists (archaeologists and architectural conservators) from various universities but also staff members from the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and the head of ICOMOS Japan attended the meeting. The possibility of cooperation for safeguarding the cultural heritage in Beirut was debated in detail by Japanese members and our group.
The colleagues from Lebanon had presentations on the current situation of the cultural heritage damaged by the Beirut explosion on the 4th of August, 2020. An evaluation of the necessities as well as their degree of emergency was done. The Japanese organization appeared to show great interest in the implementation of a supportive program, which we hope may take place soon.