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The traffic and destructions of the cultural and archaeological heritage of Libya: between threats, damages and hopes

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Duration: 0:43:47 | Added: 08 Jan 2018
Vincent Michel (Universite de Poitiers) gives a talk for the second panel of the second day of the conference.

Six years after the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, what assessment can we make of the situation of the cultural heritage in Libya? This country is full of archaeological treasures as well in the south, in the heart of the Akakous desert, in the East in Cyrenaica and in the west in Tripolitania. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, mingling with a Libyan population, have continually left their mark, modifying both the urban and rural landscape! Libya is this famous country of North Africa but whose archaeological heritage has remained almost unknown on the contrary! This international ignorance and this local ignorance have favored the preservation of this rich Libyan heritage.

What was the impact of the 2011 revolution on heritage? The finding is positive compared to the situation in Iraq or Syria; the sites have been preserved and museum collections hermetically saved. Nevertheless, this situation changes considerably nowadays. It is now that the worst occurs with a lack of authority, allowing to steal, destroy or vandalize with impunity; the Libyan soil, because of a galloping and uncontrolled urbanism, is strongly threatened, remains sacked, leading to the scattering of objects and denaturing archaeological sites. We are witnessing the proliferation of clandestine excavations, repeated attacks by extremist groups, and especially illicit and targeted trafficking in cultural property.

What actions can be proposed to preserve this local heritage that belongs to humanity, how to fight effectively against destruction and looting and all threats to the Libyan heritage. It is therefore a three-part presentation that I propose to mention at this symposium in order to show the whole singularity of Libya: (1) before the Arab Spring, (2) at the heart of the Revolution of 2011 and (3) the current period.

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