September 6, 2011

September 6, 2011

Recent developments in Libya, with the ousting of the Gadhafi regime, the installation of the temporary interim government (NTC) and the refusal of some Gadhafi supporters to relent, combine to make the situation highly volatile. The fate of Libya’s rich archaeological heritage hangs in the balance.
The sites are not all well known in the west, due to nearly half a century of diplomatic isolation. In the south of Libya, in Acacus, 12,000 years old rock paintings are found across an entire mountain range. In the east, the city of Cyrene was once given to Cleopatra by the Roman general Mark Antony. Along the coast, the splendid ruins of Leptis Magna were buried for centuries under the sand, and were said to be one of the most beautiful cities of the Roman Empire. Recent gun battles took place among the ruins, with unknown consequences.
The eventual fate of these sites is cast into doubt by the Gadhafi regime’s track record. Additionally, once the fighting has ceased, typically there may be groups of armed men in a position to take whatever they wish. Antiquities may appear an attractive proposition for looting and sale. This is understood alkready to have taken tramadol place in Benghazi, the country’s second city and the base from which the NTC launched its operations. The so-called ‘Treasure of Benghazi’ was removed from the bank vault where it was stored.
UNESCO is preparing to send in an assessment team to examine the damage to the sites as soon as it’s safe to do so, and there are plans for a large international meeting in October to explore the future of Libya’s archaeological sites.


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