2022 marks the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall and there will be a year of celebrations for this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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Full details: 1900 Festival
As part of the bicentenary of the Greek War of Independence draws near, two US members of Congress have passed a resolution calling on the UK Government to return the architectural sculptures from the Parthenon to Greece (“Hellenic Caucus Co-Chairs Maloney & Bilirakis Reintroduce Resolution Calling on the U.K. to Return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece“, 18 March 2021).
Congressman Gus Bilirakis said:
“The Parthenon Marbles were made by the citizens of Athens under the direction of renowned artist Phidias to celebrate the pride and majesty of the City of Athens. To not house and view these citizen contributions in the city they were originally intended does a disservice not only to the people of Athens, but also to the civilization that paved the path for modern democracy and freedom.”
The appeal to the original intention of the sculptor is a strong one. These sculptures were an integral part of a building, incidentally now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Athenian Akropolis.
Is now the time for these sculptures to be returned to Athens so that they can be displayed in line of sight of the Parthenon?
The British Prime Minister has stepped into the debate about cultural property currently held in the British Museum by making a statement about what he considers to be the legal status of the Parthenon architectural sculptures (“Greek culture minister challenges British PM’s claims on Parthenon sculptures“, ekatherimini.com 12 March 2021). These sculptures were once an integral part of the Parthenon, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Athenian Acropolis. The proposal is to display them in line of sight with the Parthenon.
Some of the issues relating to cultural property are explored in my Context Matters: Collating the Past (20202) [see here].
Journal Summary: The UNESCO Observatory refereed e-journal promotes multi-disciplinary research in the arts and arose out of a recognised need for knowledge sharing in the field. The publication of diverse arts and cultural experiences within a multi-disciplinary context informs the development of future initiatives in this expanding field. There are many instances where the arts work successfully in collaboration with formerly non-traditional partners such as the sciences and health care, and this peer-reviewed journal aims to publish examples of excellence.
Valuable contributions from international researchers are providing evidence of the impact of the arts on individuals, groups and organisations across all sectors of society. The UNESCO Observatory refereed e-journal is a clearing house of research which can be used to support advocacy processes; to improve practice; influence policy making, and benefit the integration of the arts in formal and non-formal educational systems across communities, regions and countries.
Publisher: UNESCO Observatory at the University of Melbourne
Access: Open access
Journal Type: Academic peer reviewed
Properties in the care of Cadw will be re-opening from August following the COVID-19 lockdown (“Wales’ ancient monuments set to reopen in August“, BBC News 18 July 2020). The first to re-open will be the castle at Laugharne on 4 August 2020.
The ancient city of Messene in the Peloponnese, below Mount Ithome, is becoming an important tourist attraction for this part of Messenia. Since 2014 it has been on the UNESCO tentative list for World Heritage. Numbers to the central part of the site have been monitored since 2012, and in 2019 were over 65,000. A small proportion of visitors visit the site museum: in 2014 there were over 9,000.
The extensive site includes some of the best preserved ancient fortifications in Greece.
The Venetian fortress of Spinalonga is located on an island in the northern part of Mirabéllo Bay, Crete. It was built in 1579 and was taken over by the Ottomans in 1715.
In 1903 it became a colony for those with leprosy; the colony closed in 1955.
The fortress attracts over 400,000 visitors a year, and since 2014 has been on the UNESCO tentative list for World Heritage status.
In 2014 the Minoan Palatial Centres of Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, Zakros, and Kydonia were placed on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The description outlines their importance:
“The palatial centres played a vital part in the evolution, development and propagation of Minoan civilisation and marked the social transformation from the proto-urban communities of the Early Bronze Age to a multifaceted and hierarchical society. The political, social, economic and religious reorganisation, the transformation of private life, and the unprecedented cultural development that emerged from the gradual centralisation of power and the accumulation of wealth, were focussed on the palatial centres, each of which covered a large populated area of Crete.
The Minoan palatial centres stand out for their unique monumental architecture, with its complex internal organisation, which passed into ancient Greek memory as the “Labyrinth”. They constituted the administrative, economic and religious centres of a wider geographical area and housed multiple activities. They not only contained the residences of the rulers and the priesthood, but were home to a multitude of people: artisans (metalworkers, potters, weavers, etc.), merchants, scribes. Various events and contests were held around the palaces.”
By 2019 four of the palaces accounted for 1.1 million visits, with over 930,00 at Knossos itself. The Bronze Age sites of Mycenae and Tiryns in the Peloponnese account for just over 500,000 visitors (2019); they form part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Kato Zakro, the most remote of the four main palace centres, receives around 10,000 visitors a year. Mallia, next to a major resort, receives around 80,000 visitors a year, and Phaistos around 120,000.
The historic area of Istanbul was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985. One of the finest structures in this part of the city is the 6th century church of Hagia Sophia that was turned into a mosque following the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Under Kemal Atatürk the building was turned into a museum emphasising the secular nature of the republic.
It is now proposed to turn the structure back into a mosque (“Hagia Sophia: Turkey delays decision on turning site into mosque“, BBC News 2 July 2020). The topic has been widely discussed in Greece (e.g. “Museum or mosque? Turkey debates iconic Hagia Sophia’s status“, ekathimerini.com 1 July 2020). France has now added its voice to the debate (e.g. “France says Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia must remain open to all“, ekathimerini.com 2 July 2020).
The West Kennet long barrow was placed on the 1882 Schedule of Ancient Monuments. It now lies within the Avebury World Heritage Site. The scientific excavation took place in 1955–56.
Radiocarbon dates suggest that the monument was constructed in the period 3,700–3,600 BC, more than a millennium earlier than was thought in the 1960s.