Ruins, archaeological and historical, present a special category of monuments that ensue as a result of natural wear and tear, abrupt natural catastrophes, use, abandonment or intentional destruction. (more…)
Written by Dr. Aris Anagnostopoulos
On the 15th of September 2015, we organized a day conference with the French School of Athens and SonorCities. This conference was intended as a launch event of the ongoing Histories, Spaces and Heritages at the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Greek State research program to which the Heritage Management Organization contributes a research and heritage strand. This research program explores urban space during the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the modern Greek state.
There is a strong emphasis on the sensory aspects of urban spaces that highlights the interplay between materiality and everyday experience at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. The program aims to develop a methodological approach to studying the sensory history of Ottoman Heritage, especially as it develops within the contemporary politics of historical memory. To do so, the project brings together multiple research strands from an interdisciplinary perspective: scholars from cultural history, archaeology, urban studies, ethnomusicology and anthropology join forces to produce a multidisciplinary group that aims to interact with current trends in digital humanities. You can follow the project as it develops on the French School website: https://www.efa.gr/index.php/en/recherche/programmes-de-recherche-2/otheritages.
The conference wished to examine the current state of Ottoman Heritages as they are preserved and presented through policy and state institutions. The opening session focused precisely on that, with additional emphasis on the adoption of intangible heritage as a viable term in official policy. The second part of the discussion focused on critical approaches to Ottoman heritage and history, that aimed to problematize the definitions and assumptions on what constitutes Ottoman Heritage and history in the Aegean context. The afternoon session focused more strongly on particular histories of transition of urban spaces in Heraklio Crete, Nafplio and Thessaloniki. We were honoured to have professors Edhem Eldem and Eleni Bastea deliver the closing keynote speeches of this conference. At the end of the event, a group of students and teachers played music from the Jewish liturgical Maftirim tradition and the ritual of the Mevlevi sufi order https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzSHCrBXV-U&t=3750s. A fitting close to a full day of discussions and a significant beginning for our new research project.
Written by Kenneth Aitchison,
Landward Research Ltd & Heritage Management Organization ( [email protected])
Archaeological remains in Africa are being damaged or destroyed without being adequately investigated, preserved, conserved or understood.
The reasons for this are rooted in a combination of global demand for minerals, rapid urbanization and the pressures of conflict and climate change, compounded by colonial histories, weak legislation, confused cultural attitudes to heritage and lack of investment in archaeological organisations.
We are now in a situation where “… sites that have been destroyed without having received any archaeological impact assessment prior to construction, vastly outnumber the ones that have been assessed and mitigated” (Arazi 2009, 97-98). Many sites are being looted with the ultimate resale value of stolen antiquities on the international art markets far exceeding the amount that is spent on systematic archaeological investigation (Ndoro 1997).
In the last two decades the sector has not kept pace with developing and ongoing threats to archaeological heritage from mineral extraction and infrastructure projects across the continent, together with the threats posed by conflict, looting, climate change and its economic consequences. Opportunities have been lost to create jobs, to add to knowledge and understanding, to stop looting and to protect African heritage for future generations.
The deeply rooted causes mean that these issues can’t be easily resolved, but a first step would be to ensure that people with the right skills, matched to needs, are working to address the pressures on archaeology.
There are Shortages of Professional Archaeologists in Many African Countries
The widely held, axiomatic, view is that there just aren’t enough archaeological experts in Africa to carry out the work needed in projects, both large and small, that are affecting African cultural heritage and landscapes.
And this view –– is relevant, and important, and true – but it is often anecdotal rather than evidence-based. The first step in building capacity is to measure current capacity, getting the evidence that can then be used to identify what is needed and then how to move towards supporting a sustainable workforce.
To protect heritage needs skilled, trained staff, and to set a baseline we first need to know how many archaeologists there are in Africa, and what their capabilities are.
Learning from previous work in Europe (the Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe project, where partners from 21 countries worked together to map professional archaeology in Europe, it would be possible to look at how many people work in archaeology across Africa (in all work situations – academia, private companies, governmental, NGOs), what they do, what their skills, qualifications, ages, genders and cultural backgrounds are, and how archaeology “operates” in each country.
Landward Research Ltd and the Heritage Management Organization are building up a network of partners in Africa who want to share methodologies and results to support African archaeology today and to plan for its development tomorrow, creating opportunities for employment, to contribute to knowledge and for heritage protection.
Knowing about the professionals who identify, interpret, curate and manage the physical remains of the human past allows those professionals to be supported, their needs to be identified and nurtured to lead to better heritage protection in the future.
The value in doing this is not just in counting archaeologists – it is in mapping out the current situation in order to then develop professional capacity that will better protect African cultural heritage. Archaeologists need to understand what is important, why it is important and to be able to explain and use it to tell a story that people will understand and value.
 Landward Research Ltd is a global labour market intelligence, skills development and monitoring & evaluation consultancy. We identify and deliver ways to measure and strengthen the skills, competencies and capabilities of individuals, organisations, professions and communities around the world. We have worked to undertake capacity measurement in professional archaeology for the European Commission, heritage agencies in the UK and the Society for American Archaeology.
 The Heritage Management Organization (HERITAGE) was established in November 2008 with the goal of enabling key heritage managers, through targeted training, to independently transform heritage assets from decaying objects of study to dynamic sources of learning, community identity and economic development.
The Heritage Management Organization trains professionals in the management of heritage sites, independently of project specifics. Training practitioners in the essential skills and best practices which define heritage management is at the heart of the HERITAGE mission.
The Heritage Management Organization is delighted to announce that Dr Kenneth Aitchison is joining the Organization as Head of Capability Mapping.
Kenneth is the Executive Director of Landward Research Ltd, and was formerly Head of Projects and Professional Development at the UK Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. He was awarded his PhD by the University of Edinburgh in 2012 for his work on three labour market intelligence projects (Profiling the Profession) studying professional archaeology in the UK which he led between 1997-98 and 2007-08. He has also led two pan-European Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe projects, with the Heritage Management Organization participating in the second of these.
He is now working to develop an HMO-led project looking at professional capabilities in archaeology in Africa, thinking about how to use this information to support capacity building for African archaeology. He presented a poster at HerMA 2017 and then spoke at the ICAHM conference in Tanzania, and is currently recruiting partners and participants for that initiative.
Last summer, I had the chance to attend a unique event in the South Pacific. The Film Raro paradise challenge took place in Rarotonga; the capital of the Cook Islands. The event consisted in bringing five film crews to make five film projects highlighting the island’s cultural and natural heritage.
Five teams were selected from 2000 entries and they were from USA, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom. The event was preceded by a class that introduced locals to the process of filmmaking.
Prior to the event, the locals assisted to a class about filmmaking and acting.
When the event started, each team had to finish both the production and post-production phase within 14 days. The teams and the projects were very diverse. From New Zealand, David Gould made a film about a young boy who gets touched by the wisdom of a local fisherman that changed his perception about the island. The Stone Brothers from California, adapted Scott Fitzgerald’s Offshore Pirate into a film about a girl who rediscovers her origins upon return to Rarotonga. The Australian team made a comedy about a million pound contest to find a corgi-dog that is supposed to have descended from Queen Elizabeth’s dogs. Karen Williams produced a documentary about ‘Mou Pirri’ a folkloric wedding song that originates from the Cook Islands.
The island lived on the Film Raro rhythm for two consecutive weeks. Rarotongans were involved in the filmmaking and post production process. They volunteered on sets, helped build sets, made props, prepared meals and were the majority of actors in the different films.
The event ended with the projects’ screening in front of a large audience which flocked from the different sides of the island.
I volunteered as a production assistant along with British Indian actor Dizzy Patel and Tahitian student Tiairani Drollet-le-Caill. We got the chance to rotate around film sets. This was an exciting learning experience for all of us. We got the chance to be involved in five films at the same time and see films getting made.
The different films made it into different film festivals and won prices allowing more visibility to the island of Rarotonga, its culture, history and heritage.
Event website: www.filmraro.com
Nader was born in Tunisia and was a student of the MA in Heritage Management 2012/2013. His interest in cinema was nurtured at the Tunisian Federation of Film Societies. Nader holds a B.A in English Language and Literature from the Institute of Human Sciences of Jendouba. He also holds an MA in Cultural Anthropology from New Mexico State University. Nader wants to bring his interest in heritage management to film. In the last two years, he has been developing film projects both in his native country and abroad.
On February 24 of 2014, Initiative for Heritage Conservancy in collaboration with the Ephorate of Antique Shops and Private Archaeological Collections conducted a one-day conference regarding the work of the Ephorate and the protection of Greece’s cultural heritage. Moreover, the symposium was held in memory of the late previous director of the Ephorate, Dimitris Kazianis.
There were many subjects addressed in this symposium. The day started with speeches about the history of the Ephorate and the rich work of Mr. Kazianis during his directorship, then continued with speeches about the Greek and international legal framework about illicit antiquities, the role and the future of antique shops the private collector’s support to many of Greece’s museums, and many more.
The guest speakers were all from various backgrounds, but with a wealth of knowledge about Greece’s cultural heritage and the threats it faces in modern times. Some of the speakers are members of the Ephorate, such as Ms Elena Korka, an archaeologist and the current director of the Ephorate. IHC was represented by Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis. Also in the symposium, many museums participated through their representatives, such as the Benaki Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Numismatic Museum and the Ilias Lalaounis Museum. The Greek office of ICOM was there, too. The list of the speakers was completed with archaeologists, conservators, lawyers, police officers, journalists and private collectors.
However, in this article I choose to address two subjects that raised many arguments and provoked various reactions.
One of them is the role of the private collectors. Although nowadays private collectors do not have a good reputation and are confronted skeptically, this was not the case few decades ago. Being a private collector had perks, like flexibility and quick decision making, thus the Greek state has at many times collaborated with private collectors to bring back antiquities from abroad when it was not possible for the state to act directly. Additionally, most of the cases of private collectors have given their collections as a legacy to the state and to various Greek museums.
But is this the proper way to protect and manage Greece’s cultural heritage? Indeed there are many threats and private collectors can send abroad artifacts as easily as they can bring them back. Therefore what is there to stop them? As most of them answered during the symposium, it is their love for Greece’s heritage, their national pride, and their own heritage. In order to close this subject, I will transfer here the words of one of the private collectors, who spoke at the symposium:
“If the Greek state could control and manage and preserve every little piece of Greek antiquities, then yes there is no place for us, but until this happens, we are the best option Greek society has.”
The second subject is the role of the general public. In the MA in Heritage Managementin our course for Public Archaeology, we have discussed various cases where the society has been left behind in favor of protecting antiquities and ancient monuments. Could it be that the living peoples’ heritage is of less importance than the dead ones’?
During the symposium many archaeologists have spoken about cases in which the general public aided the Ministry of Culture by indicating locations of monuments not easily reachable, such as up in the mountains or under the sea. For example, amateur divers have led the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities to shipwrecks and submerged cities. There are numerous cases of those who demanded a reward in return for their help – according to Greek law, there is some kind of monetary reward in special cases – or they chose directly the most profitable, but illegal way of smuggling. In terms of cultural heritage, there are ways for the state to build a trustworthy relationship with the public; by educating the local society or informing and including them in the whole process of an excavation. If people know what is the true value of their heritage and its importance to their personal identity, they will be less likely to turn against it.
Overall, the symposium was a success with more than 200 people in attendance. I think it managed to communicate the responsibility each one of us has, when it comes to protecting our heritage.
Maro Magoula is student of the MA in Heritage Management. Having studied Turkish and Modern Asian Studies in her undergraduate, she is interested in Ottoman history and culture, especially the history of her favorite city, Istanbul. Currently she is working in the Department of Educational Programs of the Initiative for Heritage Conservancy. Her interests include intangible heritage, new technologies, museum studies and public archaeology. Maro loves to travel and learn about new cultures.