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We received the following (edited for clarity) last week from Dr. Mustafa Elhawat, Head of the Department of Classical Archaeology, University of Elmergheb, Al-khums in Libya. If any of our readers can assist Dr. Mustafa Elhawat please contact him at the email address below.

Dear The Heritage Trust

The political situation and the war in Libya has several complications. The problem lies in the risk to archaeological sites and buildings by militant Islamists, and exploration of these sites by thieves and vandals. There is also the illegal trade in stolen artefacts from some sites and cemeteries which are then sold on the internet and smuggled out of the country. Also, there are numerous monuments in Libya that need to be archived as they are not registered at present. There are two sections in Libya – East and West – but staff there are inexperienced and are in need of training.

We are doing as much as possible and are campaigning to raise awareness among the Libyan population. We are also setting up workshops and seminars but we need to acquire more skills, set up courses etc because archaeological sites in Libya are currently in crisis and at severe risk.

Cultural heritage in Libya belongs to all of humanity and the duty of everyone is to protect and preserve it. So we extend our hands to you, in the international community, to work with us together in order to preserve these treasures and this heritage. I hope there will be close cooperation between us all which will provide an appropriate solution to this crisis.

Cordial greetings

Dr. Mustafa Elhawat

Head of the Department of Classical Archaeology. Faculty of Archaeology and Tourism. (Near Leptis Magna). University of Elmergheb, Al-khums. Libya. Member of the Commission for the Conservation of Libyan Cultural Heritage. email archeologo@live.com

 
Ruins of the Cyrene (Shahhat) necropolis before bulldozing
Image credit Maher27777. Source Wikimedia Commons
 
Writing in The Arts Newspaper, Emily Sharpe reports that –
 
Several ancient tombs at a Unesco World Heritage Site in northeastern Libya have been bulldozed to clear space for a residential complex. Local farmers, who have laid claim to part of the vast necropolis at Cyrene, began demolishing a mile-long section of the site last week in the hope of selling 500 sq. m parcels to real estate developers. Although the proper authorities have been notified, the country’s current fragile political situation has left them unable to intervene.
 
“Ancient artefacts were thrown into a nearby river as if they were mere rubbish,” Ahmed Hussein, an archaeology professor at Bayda University, told France 24.He says that around “200 vaults and tombs were destroyed, as well as a section of a viaduct that dates back to approximately AD200.” The ancient Greek colony, which was founded in the seventh century BC, is described by Unesco as “one of the principal cities in the Hellenic world” and its necropolis is considered one of the largest and most varied of its kind. The site is one of Libya’s five World Heritage Sites.
 
Full article here.
 
 

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