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The Strategic Value of Archaeological Best Practices On the 40th Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention

Douglas C. Comer (USA) Co-President, ICAHM and Principal, Cultural Site Research and Management, Inc. 27 November 2012 Cusco, Peru

The World Heritage Convention


In 1972, UNESCO adopted the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage Considering that protection of this heritage at the national level often remains incomplete, Recalling that the Constitution of the Organization provides that it will maintain, increase, and diffuse knowledge, by assuring the conservation and protection of the world's heritage

Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Adopted London, 16 November 1945
That since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed; That ignorance of each others ways and lives has been a common cause, throughout the history of mankind, of that suspicion and mistrust between the peoples of the world through which their differences have all too often broken into war; That the great and terrible war which has now ended was a war made possible by the propagation through ignorance and prejudice, of the doctrine of the inequality of men and races;

... peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind. [We] are agreed and determined to develop and to increase the means of communication between their peoples and to employ these means for the purposes of mutual understanding and a truer and more perfect knowledge of each others lives;

UNESCO Constitution

Article 5

The World Heritage Convention

To ensure that effective and active measures are taken for the protection, conservation and presentation of the cultural and natural heritage situated on its territory, each State Party to this Convention shall endeavor, in so far as possible, and as appropriate for each country

Article 8
Established a World Heritage Committee (21 States Parties

Article 11
Established a World Heritage List and a List of World Heritage in Danger
Timbuktu

Branding the World Heritage List


In the end, what sets World Heritage Sites apart from other lists of must see sites?

If we look to the founding documents, they should be models of effective resource management

Tourism at World Heritage Sites


Success in the industry is measured by numbers of visitors, but who benefits?

World Peace Through Understanding or Economic Benefit?


Surely it must be both Yet, values are difficult to assess: Who benefits? The peculiar concerns of archaeology At what cost to resources and communities?

The Missing Statistics: Phantom Benefits


How many visitors (really)? Where do visitors come from? How much do they spend? Who receives what is spent?
International corporations Women and children Entrepreneurs

How is tax revenue distributed?


Site maintenance? Local communities?

Material in Context
Archaeologists analyze uncontaminated material in context
Residue analysis to reveal ancient diet

Stratigraphic integrity

The City Beneath the City


Brunalleschi excavated 700 years ago to discover the architectural knowledge of ancient Romans More recently, a cat discovered 2,000 year catacombs

Material in context is important Historic Urban Settlements and Historic Monuments in urban areas

The Cost of Tourism: Abrasion

The Cost of Tourism: Looting


Archaeological materials are finite, non-renewable, and irreplaceable
Looting will occur in the absence of protection Original material can be analyzed
Repair is not the solution Authenticity is sacrificed

Attempted theft of central medallion in Biclinium 849, 2009 (Courtesy PNT and Courtauld)

The Cost of Tourism: Material Degradation

On a 3x4m surface, more than one half m3 of sandstone eroded from the inner chamber wall of Al-Khazna, mostly in from 1980s to 2000s

Most Important Threat: Environmental Degradation


Example: Development of impervious surfaces

The Cost of Tourism: Environmental Degradation


Flooding damages subsurface archaeological sites by erosion Water carries chemicals that destroy stone

The Cost of Tourism: Poor Preservation Treatments


As popularity of a site increases, so do the numbers of offers to help by means of poorly funded and conceived treatments.

Tourism and Preservation


ICAHM launches a series of publications about destructive effects of poorly managed tourism
Petra Machu Picchu Angkor Pompeii

Best Practices
The First International Conference on Best Practices in World Heritage: Archaeology, the Island of Menorca, Spain, April 2012. Complutense University of Madrid, the Council of Menorca Island held in coordination with ICAHM. This was the largest conference ever assembled for the express purpose of discussing archaeological heritage management.

Outcome: The Menorca Statement on the Development and Uses of Best Practices in the Management of Archaeological World Heritage Sites

Best Practices
The Menorca Statement

The Menorca Statement is of our intention to develop best practices for the management of archaeological materials at World Heritage Sites
Nomination dossiers must establish that sites nominated will adhere to best practices. Alternately, nomination dossiers should include a detailed plan that will describe the means by which capacity to adhere to best practices will be developed. This provides an opportunity for the nominating country to access many sources that can help build management capacity

Core Best Practices Committee


Core Member Establish Advisory Groups for*

Chris Young Tim Williams Ian Lilley Willem J.H. Willems* Douglas C. Comer* Liu Guo Xiang: Akira Ono Charles Musiba Alicia Castillo Assaad Seif John Peterson * Chairs

Northern Europe Silk Route Countries Southeast Asia Central and Eastern Europe, Russia North and Central America China Japan Sub-Saharan Africa Southern Europe and South America Middle East Indo-pacific (especially islands) * including regional professional societies

Invited Scientific Committees


ICOMOS Scientific Committees Representative

International Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICORP)

Rohit Jigyasu

International Cultural Tourism Committee (ICTC)

Sue Millar

International Committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH) International Committee on Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites (ICIP)

Thjis Maarleveld

Niel Silberman

Time Table
Task Core Committee members identify participating individuals and organizations for their regions Draft list of topics circulated for review Reviews returned Topics assigned to individuals and work groups Date March 1, 2013 May 1, 2013 June 1, 2013 July 1, 2013

The Next 40 Years: The World as Las Vegas? We are at a crossroad


A World Heritage List of tourism attractions OR A model for effective archaeological heritage management World Heritage Sites sacrificed to global development OR Building capacity to preserve the common heritage of humanity Moving toward the goals of international understanding and respect for diverse cultures OR Destroying and homogenizing cultural heritage until it is a parody of itself