Monday, March 28, 2011

Prolonged conflict a threat to Libyan heritage sites

Monsters and Critics (Kate Thomas)

The track leading to Al Bayda's forgotten Temple of Aesculapius is shingled with rocks and rubbish.

Sheep doze beneath juniper trees, graffiti tags blight nearby buildings and, in the distance, the ample family home of Safia Farkash, wife of Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi, spills over the hillside.

The remains of the Temple of Aesculapius, a medical school that dates back to 4BC, is one of eastern Libya's cultural treasures and one of the heritage sites threatened by the ongoing conflict.

Earlier, it was a lack of state funding to the Department in Antiquities, that cast doubt on the preservation of the site with its white marble columns, topped with carvings of the ancient wonder-drug Silphium.

The United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) says the Libya government and allied forces implementing the no-fly zone must respect the rich cultural sites.

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