Tuesday 8 September 2015

Cultural Monuments | Destruction and Significance

  • Why in news?
    • Last month’s horrific destruction of the archaeological site of Palmyra by the Islamic State (IS) is the latest example of ideologically driven vandalism meant to shock those who care about great human cultural achievement. Like their ransacking of the Mosul museum and the sites of Nineveh this spring, and the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001, the stated goal of such destruction is to eradicate idolatry seen as blasphemous to a particular religious perspective. But the real aim is to grab attention and destroy something that the global community deems valuable — because they can.
  • Why are monuments targeted?
    •   to eradicate idolatry seen as blasphemous to a particular religious perspective
    •  to symbolically erase another group.
    • targeted is because they are seen by some as being more treasured than the lives of those who live around them.
    • because it knows the global community will react with horror
      • The Bamiyan Buddhas were bombed at a time when Afghanistan was offered no international aid to address a food shortage, while the Metropolitan Museum of Art was offering millions of dollars to transport the Buddhas to New York in order to preserve them. 
  • Significance:
    • Historical 
      •  They help in understanding the socio-economic conditions of the past of the region
      • It helps in finding missing links in our understanding of the history of the region and the world
      • Technological progress and some innovative ideas
    • Social
      • loss of great human cultural achievement.
      • great loss to the appreciation of culture around the world.
      • highly valued by the people living there
        • people are willing to give up their lives for the objects and monuments they value - e..g - Khaled al-Asaad, the chief of antiquities at Palmyra, who refused to open the site to the IS and paid with his life. 
      • because they are part of communities where people have been working, living and dying for thousands of years. “Saving culture” does mean preserving objects.  
      • it also must mean safeguarding the people and communities that live with it and carry it into the future.


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