Friday, January 20, 2012

Hope for Libyan archaeology

Past Horizons

With photos.

Libya boasts a rich cultural heritage; Palaeolithic rock paintings, Greek and Roman ruins and ancient desert oases. These historic treasures, including six UNESCO World Heritage sites, have suffered years of neglect and most recently the perils of conflict.

During the conflict in Libya there were allegations that pro-Qadhafi troops and missiles were being hidden in the ancient city of Leptis Magna and that Qadhafi was using it as an archaeological shield. With such explosive storage, the risk of damage was great, but the sites of Leptis Magna and Sabratha have survived the conflict unscathed. That is excellent news for the cultural heritage of Libya and the tourism industry that the nation hopes to resurrect.

Conflict is not the only threat to ancient artefacts. There is also the risk that a breakdown in law and order can give criminals the opportunity to steal items of great significance.

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