Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage


International Symposium: “Transmitting the Heritage of the Mesopotamian Civilization to Future Generations: The Challenge of Restoring Post-War Iraq through History Education”

All speakers

 On Saturday April 13th, 2019, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, in cooperation with the Japanese-Iraqi Institute for Archaeological Education of Mesopotamia (JIAEM), convened the international symposium titled “Transmitting the Heritage of the Mesopotamian Civilization to Future Generations: The Challenge of Restoring Post-War Iraq through History Education.”
 The purpose of this symposium was to help in the understanding of what kind of specific support is sought in the fields of history education and cultural heritage preservation in Iraq, a country that has begun moving toward restoration.
 JIAEM representative Dr. Tatsundo KOIZUMI reported on the state of the ruins of the Mesopotamian civilization when he visited Iraq in the spring of 2017. For his part, Masashi ABE from Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties talked about the training of Iraqi specialists for conservation that the Institute has been conducting for many years. Dr. Hiromichi OGUCHI of Kokushikan University, on the other hand, spoke about the Iraq archaeological survey being conducted by his university since 1969. Dr. Mariya MASUBUCHI of the Kyoto University of Art and Design and Mr. Tomoyuki SAKAKIBARA of JIAEM gave presentations on the importance of manpower training in the field of cultural heritage preservation and on the state of archaeological educational support, respectively.
 Guest speakers included Professor Emad Dawood and Professor Naeem Alshwaly, who are both pedagogy experts from the University of Thi-Qar located in Nasiriyah, the birthplace of the Mesopotamian civilization. They gave lectures on the understanding of local students and teachers in Iraq toward the heritage of the Mesopotamian civilization and what kind of support is being sought from Japan.
 Finally, worth noting is how the attendees, including the guest speakers, engaged in a lively discussion about how Japan should be involved in Iraq’s cultural heritage preservation, history education, and manpower training. We hope that this symposium will serve as a first step toward international cooperation to restore post-war Iraq.


Seminar II on Environmental Management at Museums for Iranian Researchers

Lecture on environmental management at museums
Insect damage survey in the library of the National Museum of Iran

 In March 2017, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties exchanged a letter of intent with the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT) to commit its cooperation in various academic fields for the protection of Iranian cultural heritage over the next five years.
 During the preliminary survey to explore the partner country’s needs conducted in Iran in October 2016, we saw serious air pollution in the capital city of Tehran and Iranian experts consulted us about the pollution that resulted in damage to cultural properties. They said that even metal products displayed and housed in the National Museum of Iran might be eroding. Based on this information, we invited two researchers to Japan for a seminar and a study tour on environmental management at museums in 2017.
 This year, we organized an on-site seminar by delivering lectures on environmental management at museums in the National Museum of Iran. The seminars were held over two days and were mostly led by Director Chie SANO of the Center for Conservation Science and Visiting Researcher Toshitami RO, who specialize in that field. The lecture explained how to measure and analyze chemical substances related to environmental pollution and indoor air conditioning. In addition, using equipment brought from Japan, a presentation was given on how to measure chemical substances. An Iranian expert also delivered a presentation on the results of air pollution monitoring conducted in Iran. This successful lecture attracted 20 or more local specialists from neighboring museums.
 This year, instruments to monitor environmental quality were installed both inside and outside the Museum to survey the actual status of air pollution. The results showed with near certainty that air pollution was affecting the items housed and displayed in the Museum. A report proposing concrete measures and advice is to be submitted to the Museum.
 In response to the insect damage consultation at the Museum’s library, Associate Fellow Yukio KOMINE and other members completed a survey of the situation. A termite path was found in the library wall during the survey, but it was an old one, not a current one. They will now continue to monitor the situation by installing adhesive traps brought from Japan to check for other insect damages.
In 2019, we will continue to cooperate in various fields for the protection of Iranian cultural heritage.


Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part IV)

Unearthed west wing of the terrace structure

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been engaged in technical cooperation with the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) for the project to conserve and manage Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia. From August 20th to October 7th, 2018, the fourth archaeological investigation was conducted.
 With the cooperation of staff from APSARA, the archaeological investigation was carried out at the terrace structure on the upper surface of the embankment of the East Baray reservoir discovered thus far. In addition, the approach, which is expected to have existed between the terrace structure and the east gate of the temple, was also investigated.
 As for the terrace structure, because of the extension of the investigation area to the west, the west wing, which measures 6 meters east to west and 2.5 meters north to south, was unearthed; this was in addition to the east wing discovered last year. Although the upper stone materials were missing, the foundation existed in all circumferences. This discovery resulted in clarifying the fact that the structure is 18 meters in scale from east to west. According to a parallel case, the original terrace structure was assumed to be cross-shaped along with the north and south wings, which are still unexcavated. Further excavation should provide evidence that backs up this speculation.
 As for the approach, we attempted to clarify its width and the condition of its sides by further expanding the 2017 investigation area. This resulted in revealing the fact that the approach is approximately 11 meters in width and that certain facilities might have existed on both sides, which are around 50 centimeters higher than the approach.
 We are planning to prepare explanation boards for tourists visiting the site. In parallel with the academic investigation, we will also proceed with establishing a management system for access and utilization.


Conducting Training Seminars to Conserve and Restore Paper Cultural Properties for Syrian Experts and Providing Materials Related to Syrian Cultural Heritage

Training to conserve and restore paper cultural properties
Providing materials related to Syrian cultural heritage

 In Syria, the Middle East, a conflict that began in March 2011 has not ended even after seven years. The conflict has caused serious damages to both the Syrian people and their precious cultural heritage.
 Since 2017, the Japanese government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have been supporting Syria in preserving its cultural heritage. In addition to the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, academic institutions, such as the University of Tsukuba, Teikyo University, Waseda University, Chubu University, and the Ancient Orient Museum, plan to accept Syrian experts for a variety of training seminars in archaeology, and conservation and restoration of cultural properties, since February 2018.
 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) invited two Syrian specialists to Japan from May 15th to 30th, 2018, (two weeks) to conduct training seminars on conservation and restoration of paper cultural properties. At the seminars organized in cooperation with the National Diet Library and the National Archives of Japan, they learned basic restoration and conservation methods for documents and books.
 In January 2018, a news report that the ruins of the Ain Dara Temple, built in Northwestern Syria during the Syro-Hittite period, were severely damaged by an air raid was released. For this temple, TNRICP conducted a conservation and restoration project from 1994 through 1996. Project leader and Researcher Emeritus Tadateru NISHIURA provided related materials of that time. The materials were offered to the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria through the Syrian specialists invited to the seminars for utilization in the smooth restoration of the remains. In addition, valuable old photographic data on Aleppo, Damascus, and Palmyra, shot by Shin WADA in 1929 and 1930, which are now in possession of TNRICP were provided.


Archaeological Investigation and Risk Assessment for the Conservation and Management of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part III)

Excavated terrace structure
Ongoing precise survey

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been engaged in technical cooperation with the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) in order to draft a conservation and management plan for Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia. From March 8th through 22nd, 2018, we conducted the third archaeological investigation at Ta Nei Temple and a precise survey of its surroundings.
 The main purpose of the archaeological investigation was to further clarify the terrace structure on the upper surface of the embankment of the East Baray reservoir discovered during the second investigation in December 2017. The excavation was conducted jointly with staff from APSARA.
 The investigation disclosed the fact that laterite ashlars are laid to shape the entire structure as a cross, which is 13.8 m east to west and 11.9 m north to south. In addition, numerous roof tiles were found in its vicinity, and there were many holes and dents on the laterite ashlars, which seem to have been postholes. These findings implicitly show that there once was a wooden building on this terrace structure. Since the terrace structure is located on the east-west temple axis, we will continue the investigation to clarify the connection between the two structures.
 At the same time, we also conducted a precise survey with a total station around the temple. Based on the collected data, we are preparing a detailed topographic map, which is expected to be effectively utilized for the conservation and management of the temple.
 We also provided technical guidance for APSARA staff through technical transfer during the precise survey. We will continue such technical support, in addition to academic investigations.


Archaeological Investigation and Risk Assessment for the Conservation and Management of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part II)

Excavated terrace structure
Survey of the current condition of the temporary supports

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been carrying out technical cooperation with the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) in order to draft a conservation and management plan for Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia. From November 28th through December 8th, 2017, we conducted an archaeological investigation and a risk assessment for the structures at Ta Nei Temple for the second time.
 The main purpose of the archaeological investigation was identifying the remains of the east approach to the temple located at its front and the remains of a structure situated on the upper surface of the embankment of the East Baray reservoir discovered during the first investigation in July. The excavation was conducted jointly with staff from APSARA and with the cooperation of the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
 First, we set up and excavated a trench 2 m wide from east to west and 5 m long from north to south, approximately 50 m to the east of the east gate. We discovered a hardened surface, presumably the old approach to the temple, 70 cm beneath the current ground surface. The hardened surface was composed of yellow soil covering a layer of small sandstone gravel 5 mm in size overlapped on a layer of fist-sized sandstone cobbles.
 In addition, we set up and excavated a trench 11 m long from east to west and 1 m wide from north to south on the embankment of the East Baray on the prolongation of this approach way. We found a laterite stone surface 30 cm beneath the current ground surface (Figure 1). Considering the surrounding topography and the distribution of exposed laterite, these remains can be presumed to form part of a terrace structure approximately 20 m long from east to west and 15 m wide from north to south.
 Regarding the risk mapping of the site, we examined how to renew the existing temporary supports. Wooden supports had been installed in 16 places where there were safety concerns such as potential collapse of main structures, including the central tower, the east tower, and the inner gallery. However, apart from obstructing the view of the site, these supports are in need of renovation, as in the 20 years that have passed since their installation decay of timber members and loosening of joints have become apparent. Thus, we observed and recorded the current condition of these supports, and studied improvement proposals including a change to a more durable material and the adoption of a design enabling fine adjustment.


Seminar on Environmental Management at Museums for Iranian Researchers

On-going lecture at the Institute

 In March 2017, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) exchanged a letter of intent with the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT) so as to commit its cooperation in various academic fields for the protection of Iranian cultural heritage for the next five years.
During the survey conducted in Iran in October 2016, Iranian experts consulted us about serious air pollution in the capital Tehran, which resulted in damage to cultural properties. They said that even metal products displayed and housed in the National Museum of Iran were eroding.
 Thus, we invited two researchers, one from the National Museum of Iran and the other from the, RICHT for a seminar and a study tour of the Institute, expecting the improvement in exhibiting and housing environments at Iranian museums.
 We provided lectures on the museum environment and air pollution at the Institute, in addition to a study tour at the Tokyo National Museum (TNM) so as to inspect its display and storage environments and to the Great Buddha of Kamakura.
We will continually provide cooperation next year for Iranian museums, aiming at enhancement in their exhibiting and housing environments.


Seminar on “Protection of Cultural Heritage and the Latest Research on the Indus Civilization in India”

Photo taken after the seminar together with Dr. Shinde

 On September 26th, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and the Japanese Centre for South Asian Cultural Heritage held a seminar titled the “Protection of Cultural Heritage and the Latest Research on the Indus Civilization in India” inviting Vice-Chancellor of the Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute in India, Dr. Vasant Shinde.
 Dr. Shinde is an archaeologist representing India, who has conducted many excavations in India. At present, he is working on the Archaeological Ruins at Rakhigarhi, which were the largest city ruins in the ancient Indus Valley civilization overwhelming Moenjodaro.
For this seminar, Dr. Shinde made presentations on the “Current Situation on the Protection of Cultural Heritage in India” and “The Latest Outcomes from the Excavation of the Archaeological Ruins at Rakhigarhi.”
 Before the presentations, he toured the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. Deccan College is a post-graduate and research institute specialized in cultural heritage. In 2018, it will establish new departments of “Conservation and Restoration” and “Heritage Management.” For that reason, Dr. Shinde listened intently to the briefing provided by Mr. Kuchitsu, the Head of the Restoration Planning Section of the Center for Conservation Science.


Archaeological Investigation and Risk Assessment for the Conservation and Management of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia

Risk assessment
Trench excavation and the ditch revealed (created with SfM)

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is providing technical support to the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (hereafter APSARA) to draft a plan for the conservation and management of Ta Nei Temple. From July 16 to 30, 2017, we carried out an archaeological excavation and risk assessment of the buildings (Figure 1).
 Our excavation was mainly to identify remains of the East Approach to the temple, located at its front. We worked with APSARA staff with the cooperation of the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. When we cleared the underbrush along about 100 meters from the Eastern Gate of the outer enclosure to the East Baray reservoir, we discovered remains of a laterite terrace on the bank of the reservoir, suggesting the high likelihood of this location being the starting point for an approach leading to the Eastern Gate.
 We first opened a trench measuring 2 meters east-west and 10 meters north-south about 12 meters east of the Eastern Gate (Figure 2). Our excavations revealed a ditch running east-west 50 cm below the current ground level. The ditch was about 2 meters wide and filled with amounts of fine chips of laterite (1cm-0.5cm in diameter), suggesting the possibility of an approach. In addition, both sides of the ditch were covered with fist-sized sandstone cobbles.
 For the purpose of finding the rest of this ditch as well as to verify the initial ground level, we opened a trench measuring 2 meters east-west and 2.5 meters north-south along the Eastern Gate and dug down. This trench revealed a sandstone cobbles covered surface that spread out over the entire surface 50 cm under the current ground level, and we were unable to detect any remains of the ditch.
 We are planning another excavation in November to determine further details of the Eastern Approach and to identify the entirety of the newly discovered terrace-like remains.
 One of the major charms of Ta Nei Temple is its ancient ruin-like setting, relatively untouched by human hand compared to other Angkor ruins. On the other hand, there is a need to prevent further collapse, in part to ensure the safety of visitors. Therefore, it is urgent for support structures to be installed and updated in a planned, organized manner on the basis of structural risk assessment of the overall temple complex. We decided to create elevation maps using SfM and conduct a risk assessment starting from the major buildings along the central axis. We started with two buildings with which we worked to establish the procedures for such operations. This work is currently being continued by APSARA staff.
 To preserve the buildings and surroundings in good condition, as well as to help visitors to the area better understand the significance and value of the site, we wish to intensify our cooperation toward academic elucidation and achievement of effective conservation.


Seminar on Iranian Cultural Heritage and Exchange of Letter of Intent for Cooperation with Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization and Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism

Exchange of the letter of intent

 The Islamic Republic of Iran is famous for having the world’s most important cultural heritage sites, including Persepolis, the capital city of the Persian Empire during the Achaemenid Dynasty, and Esfahan, which had been called “half of the world” because of its prosperity.
 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) recently extended an invitation to Dr. Mohammad Hassan Talebian (Deputy Director of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran) and Dr. Mohammad Beheshti Shirazi (Head of the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism of Iran) to hold the “Seminar on Iranian Cultural Heritage” on March 29th, 2017. Together with lectures by Japanese experts, the two guests delivered interesting lectures on the historical and cultural background of Iran as well as the protection of cultural heritage.
 After the seminar, the TNRICP, the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, and the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism expressed through a letter of intent their desire for a fiveyear cooperation in various academic fields to protect the cultural heritage in Iran.


Symposium on “The Syrian Civil War and Cultural Heritage – The Actual State of the World Heritage Site at Palmyra and International Support for Its Reconstruction”

Artifacts in the Palmyra Museum destroyed by IS (photograph donated by Dr. Robert Zukowski)

 In the Middle Eastern country of Syria, a massive civil uprising calling for democratization occurred in March 2011 and developed into a civil war that has already lasted five years. Casualties in the nation have topped 250 thousand while more than 4.8 million citizens have fled the country as refugees.
 Because of this state of civil warfare in Syria, valuable cultural assets have suffered damage as well, which has been reported as major news stories internationally. Of particular note is that reports of damage wrought on Palmyra by Islamic State (IS) militants from August 2015 through October last year made headlines and drew public attention also in Japan.
 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) cohosted the symposium titled “The Syrian Civil War and Cultural Heritage – The Actual State of the World Heritage Site at Palmyra and International Support for Its Reconstruction” with the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and the Cultural Heritage Protection Cooperation Office, Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO at the Tokyo National Museum and Todaiji Temple’s Kinsho Hall on November 20th and 23rd, 2016, respectively.
 The ruins of Palmyra had been controlled by the IS since May 2015 and they were recaptured by the Syrian government forces in March 2016. Polish and Syrian researchers conducted field surveys at the site in April. They recorded the state of damage wrought on the ruins in the region and the Palmyra Museum, and provided preliminary aid to damaged artifacts of the museum and transported them to Damascus promptly.
 At this symposium, Polish and Syrian researchers who witnessed the graphic situation at the site, experts from both home and abroad, and UNESCO staff got together and discussed what type of support would be effective with a view to reconstructing damaged cultural heritages in Syria, including the devastated ruins of Palmyra.


Investigation in Armenia and Iran, Our Partner Countries

Dyed and Woven Fabric Works Stored at the Etchmiadzin Cathedral Museum

 From September 26th through October 6th, 2016, we visited the Republic of Armenia and the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to grasp the need for cooperation in cultural heritage protection.
 Regarding Armenia, the first visiting country in this time, the cooperation agreement has already concluded with the Ministry of Culture in Armenia. We jointly conducted investigation/research and conservation/restoration activities for archaeological metal materials with the History Museum of Armenia as our counterpart from 2011 through 2014. During this visit, we visited the Ministry of Culture, the History Museum of Armenia, the Etchmiadzin Cathedral Museum and others again to consult about the development of future projects. We are planning to cooperate with Armenia in technological transfer in the conservation/restoration area for dyed and woven fabric works.
 Then in Iran, we mainly visited the Iran Cultural Heritage Handicraft and Tourism Organization, the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage & Tourism, and the National Museum of Iran. Air pollution issues were often referred to during the discussions with Iranin experts. At present, air pollution is a seirous social problem in the capital, Teheran. During the consulattion, they pointed out the possibility that this serious air pollution might affect items exhibitied or stored at musums. We are considering joint research on such issues for improvement of exhibition and storage envrionemnts in Iran.


Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Kyrgyz Republic and Central Asia

Training for drawing of pottery unearthed from Ak-Beshim

 Since 2011, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been collaborating with efforts to protect cultural heritage in the Kyrgyz Republic and the countries of Central Asia, based on the framework of the Agency for Cultural Affairs’ Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. Previously, workshops to develop human resources have been held in the field of protection of cultural heritage, such as documentation, excavation, conservation, and site management.
 This year is the final year of this project, and in July inspection tours and workshops were conducted on site management and museum exhibition in Japan. Later in the year, over the six days from October 27 to November 1, the 8th workshop “Training Workshop on Exhibition and Publication of the Excavation Report” was held in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Republic. Twelve trainees from Kyrgyz participated in this workshop.
 At present, museums in Kyrgyz still lack adequate facilities and human resources. Therefore, this workshop featured lectures on exhibition techniques at museums, management of lighting, temperature and humidity, and exhibition hall management techniques. After that, there were lectures and training on techniques for preparing site reports, including topics such as drawing of archaeological finds and descriptions of their attributes. In addition, due to the diversification of archaeological investitgation techniques in recent years, today’s reports contain various types of natural science approaches. Therefore, lectures were given and training carried out regarding analytical techniques for animal and plant remains sampled from Ak-Beshim, where excavation training was conducted in 2012 and 2013.
 This will be the final workshop held under the current framework. However, considering the current situation in Kyrgyz and Central Asian countries regarding museums, conservation facilities, and site management, there remains a need for international support in all areas of cultural heritage protection. Going forward, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation plans to continue its efforts in various international cooperation projects for culture heritage, with the aim of protecting cultural heritage in Central Asia.


Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Kyrgyz Republic and Central Asia

Trainees and graduate students from Kanazawa University who participated in the training workshop

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has conducted a series of training workshops covering “documentation,” “excavations,” “conservation,” and “site management” in the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia since 2011. These training workshops are part of a project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan to safeguard cultural heritage in Central Asia.
 The 7th training workshop, the Training Workshop on Site Management and Museum Exhibition, was conducted over 12 days from July 3 to 14, 2014.
 The World Heritage Committee that met in Qatar this June decided to inscribe sites in Central Asia related to the Silk Road on the World Heritage list. However, the reality is that most of those sites lack site management. Site management and construction of on-site museums are urgent issues that Central Asian countries need to deal with.
 Thus, 3 young experts from the Kyrgyz Republic and 3 young experts from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan were invited to Japan to participate in the training workshop on Site Management and Museum Exhibition. After attending lectures at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, participants toured archaeological museums and sites that are typical of Japan.
 In addition, the training workshop was attended by 8 graduate students in the Graduate Program in Cultural Resource Management of the Center for Cultural Resource Studies of Kanazawa University.


Symposium: Safeguarding Syria’s cultural heritage

A panel discussion underway

 In April 2011, a large-scale pro-democracy movement developed in Syria, and that groundswell shows no sign of stopping. In actuality, Syria is currently in a state of civil war. There are over 140,000 dead in Syria, and over 4 million people have fled the country.
 Destruction of Syria’s cultural heritage as the civil war unfolds has made major news around the world. World heritage sites that epitomize Syria, such as Aleppo and Krak des Chevaliers, have become battlegrounds, and many ruins have been looted and many museums have been plundered. The illegal export of cultural properties from Syria is an international concern. In light of this situation, UNESCO began efforts to safeguard Syria’s cultural heritage.
 On June 23, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo hosted a symposium on Safeguarding Syria’s Cultural Heritage. At the symposium, presenters reported on the expert meeting, “Rallying the International Community to Safeguard Syria’s Cultural Heritage” that UNESCO had convened from May 26 to 28. In addition, presenters reported on various activities both at home and abroad to safeguard Syria’s cultural heritage.


UNESCO International Expert Meeting: Rallying the International Community to Safeguard Syria’s Cultural Heritage

General Director of Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums, Syria reporting on the extent of damage to Syria’s cultural heritage

 In April 2011, a large-scale pro-democracy movement developed in Syria, and that groundswell shows no sign of stopping. In actuality, Syria is currently in a state of civil war. There are over 140,000 dead in Syria, and over 4 million people have fled the country.
 Damage to Syria’s cultural heritage has made major news as the civil war unfolds. World heritage sites that epitomize Syria, such as Aleppo, Palmyra, and Krak des Chevaliers, have become battlegrounds. Many archaeological sites have been looted and many museums have been plundered. The illegal export of cultural properties from Syria is an international concern.
 In light of this situation, UNESCO began a new project, Emergency Safeguarding of Syrian Cultural Heritage, this March to safeguard Syria’s cultural heritage with the support of the EU.
 As part of this project, “International Expert Meeting: Rallying the International Community to Safeguard Syria’s Cultural Heritage” was convened by UNESCO at its headquarters in Paris from May 26 to 28. The meeting was attended by over 120 experts from 22 countries. Two of those experts were YAMAUCHI Kazuya and ABE Masashi from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. The extent of damage to Syria’s cultural heritage was reported at the meeting, and future strategies to safeguard Syria’s cultural heritage were actively discussed.


Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Kyrgyz Republic and Central Asia

Young Kirgiz experts restoring and reconstructing a clay pot

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) has conducted training workshops on Documentation, Excavation, Conservation, and Site Management in the Kyrgyz Republic since 2011. This program was commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan in order to safeguard the cultural heritage of Central Asia.
 From February 10 to 15, 2014, the JCICC jointly conducted its 6th workshop, a Training Workshop on Conservation of Excavated Objects, with the Institute of History and Cultural Heritage of the National Academy of Sciences, Kyrgyz Republic.
 During the workshop, trainees brought in archeological objects that had been excavated in the Kyrgyz Republic. Guided by experts, the trainees conserved these objects. A new element was added to the workshop in which trainees practiced Creating Replicas of Archeological Objects.
 The 6th workshop was attended by 8 young Kirgiz experts who had attended all of the previous workshops. In addition, Professor Kubatbek TABALDIEV of Kyrgyzstan-Turkey Manas University brought students with him to observe the workshop. The workshop ended a great success.
 The JCICC plans to continue conducting various training workshops in the future in order to safeguard the cultural heritage of Central Asia.


UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust Project, “Support for Documentation Standards and Procedures of the Silk Roads World Heritage Serial Transnational Nomination Dossier within the Framework of the Silk Roads World Heritage Serial and Transnational Nomination”: Uzbek Workshop and Sub-Regional Closing Meeting

Trainees creating 3D images based on photographic surveys

 Five countries in Central Asia and China have been involved in various efforts to nominate cultural heritage sites along the Silk Roads as World Heritage Sites in 2014. To support these efforts, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) has participated in UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust Project, “Support for Documentation Standards and Procedures of the Silk Roads World Heritage Serial Transnational Nomination Dossier within the Framework of the Silk Roads World Heritage Serial and Transnational Nomination”: Uzbek Workshop and Sub-Regional Closing Meeting for 3 years since 2011 and JCICC has conducted various training workshops in countries in Central Asia.
 This workshop marks the final training workshop. The workshop was conducted from December 1st to 3rd in Tashkent, Uzbekistan at the UNESCO Office in Tashkent. Training covered Photographic Surveys of Cultural Heritage Sites. Fourteen young experts participated in the training.
 Once the training workshop concluded, We attended the sub-regional closing meeting of the project that took place in Tashkent on December 4th and 5th. The meeting reviewed the training program conducted by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and the University College London in countries of Central Asia. Representatives from different countries asked that training be conducted in the future as well. They specifically asked that training related to Surveys of Historical Buildings, Preservation of Sites, and Management of Cultural Heritage be conducted.


Symposium “Syria’s Recovery and Its Cultural Heritage”

Presentation given by Dr. Youssef KANJOU

 Pro-democracy movements in the Middle East that originated from the Arab Spring have caused major changes in the Arab world. A large-scale democracy movement began in Syria in April 2011, and where this swell will lead is not known. The nation is currently in a de facto state of civil war. Syria has already experienced over 100,000 deaths, and many citizens have been forced to flee. Opposition is growing as Syrians flee to neighboring countries, and there appears to be no end in sight to the conflict.
 As the civil war unfolds, the destruction of cultural heritage has again captured headlines around the world. Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, is renowned as an ancient capital with scenic views, but the city has been home to severe fighting during the war. Cultural heritage is at great risk, as evinced by the burning of historical souqs (markets or bazaars) that led the city to be inscribed as a World Heritage Site and destruction of the much of the Ancient City of Aleppo. In light of continued fighting, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee placed all 6 of the World Heritage sites in Syria on the List of World Heritage in Danger on June 20, 2013.
 In light of these circumstances, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo hosted a symposium on “Syria’s Recovery and Its Cultural Heritage” on October 31st with the backing of the Japanese Society for West Asian Archaeology.
 During the symposium, presentations were given by 9 experts, including Dr. Youssef KANJOU, the current Director of Antiquities and Museums of Aleppo. Presentations covered the Current State and Future Direction of the Syrian Civil War, Syria’s History and Cultural Heritage, the Extent of Destruction of Cultural Heritage by the Syrian Civil War, and Restoration of Cultural Heritage and National Recovery. A panel discussion followed the presentations, where the topic of What Should Be Done to Restore Syria’s Cultural Heritage Now and in the Future was actively discussed.


The Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project: Training Workshop for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Central Asia

Excavation practice at the Ak Besim site

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) has been commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan to conduct training regarding the safeguarding of cultural heritage in Central Asia since 2011. To that end, the JCICC has conducted a series of training workshops on Documentation, Excavations, Conservation, and Site Management in the Kyrgyz Republic and elsewhere in Central Asia.
 The fifth workshop, a Training Workshop on Excavation of Ruins, Conservation of Unearthed Objects, and Site Management, was conducted jointly with the Institute of History and Cultural Heritage of the National Academy of Sciences, Kyrgyz Republic over a 17-day period from August 27th to September 12th. 
 During the workshop, trainees actually practiced excavation at the site of the medieval fortified town of Ak Besim. Trainees also practiced collecting fragile artifacts and removing soil layers. Lectures on site management were also given, and site management was planned with Ak Besim in mind.
 The fifth workshop was attended by 14 young experts, including 8 experts from the Kyrgyz Republic, 1 expert from Armenia, 1 from Turkmenistan, 1 from Kazakhstan, and 1 from Tajikistan, and 2 experts from Afghanistan.
 The JCICC plans to conduct various training workshops to safeguard the cultural heritage of Central Asia in the future as well.


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