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Archive for the ‘Heritage’

Constructing the future: The heritage of education

April 18, 2013 @ 13:02 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Heritage

Every 18th of April is the International Day for Monuments and Sites. The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) celebrates the day with a different theme. This year’s theme is The Heritage of Education.

Education is, among other things, the transmission of beliefs, values and knowledge, making it one of the main methods for constructing the future.

Initially, education consisted of adults passing on the knowledge and skills that the young people in their societies needed to master in order to survive. Before written languages were developed, this would be done through story-telling and demonstration. As written languages emerged, this knowledge could be preserved permanently in written form, but even still the oral traditions persisted and continue to to this day.

At some point, the amount of recorded knowledge would hit critical mass and formal education and schooling emerged. Records show that this was taking place in Egypt as early as 3000 BP. Though Plato’s Academy in Athens was the first institution of higher learning in the western world, Alexandria in Egypt eventually succeeded Athens as the intellectual centre of the western world.

Education took place in all sorts of places and buildings, from open spaces to buildings built specifically for leaning. Schools, universities, libraries and so on were places where knowledge was both housed and transmitted. The UNESCO World Heritage List has many heritage properties linked to education on it. Sites like the Bauhaus in Germany, the University and historic precinct of Alcalá de Henares in Spain and the Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) are a few examples of sites of significance inscribed on the WHL. Unfortunately, there are many cultural properties linked to education with historic, artistic or social values that are not on the list and thus are not being protected and recognized as they should. Conservation activities often focus on the education programs themselves instead of the buildings and places where they take place, in some cases for hundreds of years, something that needs to change if we do not want to lose these cultural heritage resources.

Was Nunavut’s decision to refuse Ron Carlson permission to search for Franklin’s grave the right one? Yes, I think it was.

July 12, 2011 @ 00:12 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Heritage

As you may know, Sir John Franklin made several expeditions into the Canadian Arctic, the last of which saw him and his crew die of starvation, hypothermia, tuberculosis, lead poisoning (from their cans of food) and scurvy. The expedition’s ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, were trapped in the ice off King William Island in September 1846. According to a note found on the island, Franklin died on June 11th, 1847, though the exact location of his grave remains unknown, something that Ron Carlson desperately wants to change.

So, when the Nunavut Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth (CLEY) rejected his application for an archaeological license to search for Franklin’s grave he was understandably frustrated. (more…)

International Day for Monuments and Sites

April 18, 2009 @ 07:25 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Heritage

18april Every 18th of April, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an organization I’ve been involved with since the very early 1990s, celebrates the International Day for Monuments and Sites. This year’s theme is Heritage and Science.

Heritage and science are inextricably woven together in two distinct ways. Science and technology lead to the creation of heritage and have for many years. From ancient observatories like Kokino in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to more modern sites like Maritime Greenwich in the UK, astronomy is but one of the fields of science that has had a profound impact on heritage.

At the same time, science and technology provide insights into heritage on a scale unheard of even a century ago. Application of science and technology such as radioisotope dating like carbon dating, X-ray diffraction and information management systems to new conservation tools and techniques mean that we can learn increasing amounts of information about artefacts and the cultures they come from.

The Internet and the World Wide Web have provided incredible opportunities for people in the heritage conservation field to communicate to each other and to the public at large. My involvement with ICOMOS over the years started with the creation of a gopher server followed shortly thereafter by ICOMOS’ first website, which was one of the earliest websites on the Internet. ICOMOS was the first international heritage organization in the world to have a presence on the Internet, something I’m very proud to have had a role in. It has lead to a grassroots group concerned about the imminent demolition of a heritage property in the UK finding the information they needed to convince the authorities to revoke the demolition permit and get the property designated. A reporter in Japan wrote a series of articles about the theft of carved stones from Japanese heritage sites that appeared in a national daily newspaper, raising the profile of these thefts.

Clearly, science and technology have had a profound impact on heritage and vice versa. I encourage you to visit ICOMOS’ 18 April website at 18april.icomos.org to learn more about the International Day for Monuments and Sites.