Friday, September 15, 2006

THE STATE OF LEBANON'S HISTORICAL SITES is surveyed by Nevine El-Aref in Al Ahram:
Ancient Phoenicia under threat
Nevine El-Aref looks at the UNESCO's efforts to rescue Lebanon's historical sites following the Israeli-Hizbullah ceasefire

Like other countries of the Middle East, Lebanon has a heritage almost as old as the earliest evidence of mankind. Its geographic position as a crossroads linking the Mediterranean Basin with the great Asian hinterland has conferred on it a cosmopolitan character and a multicultural legacy.

At different periods of its history Lebanon has come under the domination of foreign rulers, including Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Ottomans and French. Moreover, its mountainous terrain has provided it with a certain protective isolation, enabling it to survive with an identity all of its own.


However, although both Lebanon and Israel have signed the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and the 1972 Paris Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural Heritage, Tyre and Baalbek were recently subjected to rigorous Israeli bombardments during the recent conflict in Lebanon. Fortunately no damage occurred, but the bombardments which targeted adjacent areas provided a real threat.


Matsuura set up a special meeting of UNESCO's Middle East Task Force to discuss the crisis and issued an urgent call to protect heritage sites in both countries of conflict, emphasising that the heritage site of Tyre was under threat.

Following the ceasefire, an archaeological mission is inspecting historical sites in Baalbek and Tyre as well as Byblos, which was affected by the oil spill from a power station hit in an Israeli attack in mid-July. The mission will adopt a plan to determine how to help recovery efforts.

The article also includes historical profiles of Baalbek and Tyre.

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