Wednesday, January 28, 2009

AUK hosts talk on preserving ME heritage

Kuwait Times (Sarah Alzouman)

KUWAIT: A lecture on the restoration and preservation of Middle Eastern heritage was delivered at the American University of Kuwait(AUK) on Sunday. Dr. Jere Bacharach, Director Emeritus at the University of Washington's Jackson School of International Studies and a world-renowned Middle East studies scholar, spoke during the occasion. Dr. Hesham Al-Awadi, a professor at the AUK, hosted the event.

Kuwait is a country with a rich and varied cultural history, with artifacts dating back to pre-Islamic times, including the era of Alexander the Great. Without proper restoration and reservation, these treasures are at risk of being lost to future generations, Bacharach said.

The professor went on to say that contemporary restoration of ancient works combines the experience of local archeologists, scientists, and artists with the best technical experience of the international community. Sites throughout Egypt are a testament to this unity: an international team composed mostly of Italians restored the frescoes of the Roman basilica in the Temple of Luxor, German and Polish specialists spearheaded the restoration of Kom Al-Diqqa's tile mosaics in Alexandria, and local Egyptian artisans are at the forefront when restoring masonry and woodwork.

The development of field schools, where students gain real-life experience in the preservation of artifacts, is an essential part of local cooperation with international teams. "In Egypt, you can become an inspector of antiquities by going to university and getting a piece of paper, but never get your hands dirty," said Bacharach. But with the implementation of field schools, "Egyptian inspectors do all the type of archeological work everyone else did.

A second [element of successful restoration] that is still new to Egypt, where in fact, Kuwait is well ahead of Egypt in creating conservation labs, where people are trained to work with [...] the type of historic material that you have here at the Rajab Museum or the Kuwait National Museum.

See the above page for the full story.

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