Thursday, September 15, 2011

You Need Us, You Really Do

That, at least, seems to be the message behind a seminar organized by Italian cultural officials to address the future of archaeological sites in Libya. See

As the report states,

Before the conflict started there were over twenty archaelogical missions operating in Libya. By far the largest number, thirteen, were Italian missions, but there were also French, British, American and Polish missions amongst others. Most of those missions were represented at the meeting that was held in Caserta.

The meeting was entitled ‘For the Preservation of the Cultural Heritage in Libya, a Dialogue among Institutions’. Malta’s Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Dr Ray Bondin, was the only Ambassador invited to the meeting both because of Malta’s importance to Libya and also because of his extensive contacts with the heritage authorities in Libya. Malta’s agreements with Libya cover also substantially collaboration on the heritage field. He had in fact last year made two missions to strengthen the collaboration with Malta. Because of his extensive experience in World Heritage he was giving his assistance on the site of Cyrenea, one of the major archaelogical sites in Libya. Representatives of the new transitory authories based in Benghazi were also present at the Caserta meeting. The meeting discussed the theft of heritage from Libya, the sites needing major attention, and in particular listened to the Libyans as to their immediate needs. Though the humane situation is the obvious priority at the moment the new Libya will most certainly invest more in tourism and therefore their archaeological sites are of the utmost importance.

Although much of this is all well and good, one really has to wonder whether the participants are even more interested in ensuring that they get in the good graces of Libya's new government. After all, Italy and Malta had especially cozy relations with the deposed Colonel's regime, and presumably many of the archaeological delegations that excavated in the country did so as well.

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