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  • 27July

    'Journeys through our Fragile Heritage' Photo Exhibition by UNESCO & Wikimedia, July 2017

    Starting this July a new photo exhibition entitled ‘Journeys through our Fragile Heritage: discover, preserve, transmit’ will be on display at UNESCO HQ in Paris. Prepared jointly by Wikimedia and UNESCO, this exhibition  showcases freely licensed Open Access digital resources that illustrate the richness and diversity of our common cultural heritage. It also highlights beauty and fragility of culture with the aim of helping to preserve and transmit this cultural heritage that is, often times, vulnerable. This exhibition is organized within the framework of the #Unite4Heritage campaign and the Connected Open Heritage project. The goals of the #Unite4Heritage project are to celebrate and safeguard cultural heritage and diversity around the world. Under this movement, the exhibition focuses on three main aspects of cultural heritage: Built Heritage, Intangible Cultural Heritage and Illicit Trafficking.

    More info : Unite 4 Heritage
  • 13July

    A feast of finds from Cornwall’s First Golden Age

    Excavations at Tintagel Castle have revealed that the early Cornish kings feasted on a diet of oysters, roast pork and fine wine, dining and drinking from bowls imported from Turkey and glass goblets from Spain, English Heritage announced today (13 July 2017) as archaeologists return to the legendary castle to continue their investigations.

    More info : Heritage Daily
  • 11July

    Grand designs: saving Yangon’s crumbling colonial architecture

    Events in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw, have been the focus of most attention since Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party was swept to power in a landslide election in November 2015.

    But an upheaval is also taking place in the country’s economic heart of Yangon – and it could have significant implications for how the city develops in the years to come.

    Yangon is at a juncture. It’s fuelling Myanmar’s economic boom – the country had the fastest-growing economy in Asia in 2015-16 – but it’s also choked with traffic, suffers regular power outages and is enduring a housing affordability crisis. Many have no access to government-supplied water or sewerage.

    There’s an obvious need to improve infrastructure and living conditions. At the same time, there’s contestation over how much of the city’s heritage – not just individual buildings, but entire neighbourhoods – can and should be protected from what conservationists deem inappropriate development.

    For decades, but particularly after the capital shifted to Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s military rulers adopted a policy of neglect toward Yangon’s heritage buildings. The new Yangon Region government, formed in March 2016 and headed by long-time NLD activist Phyo Min Thein, has changed the equation. It has thrown out the leadership of the notoriously corrupt municipal council and taken steps to improve delivery of public services. It is reviewing major projects initiated by its predecessor, including controversial ‘new cities’ on Yangon’s fringes. New initiatives, such as river transport, are being trialled. A long-delayed zoning plan is also being dusted off. Some of the reforms have been difficult, even unpopular – a new bus system launched in January remains a work in progress and has been widely criticised, while a night market to shift vendors off the streets failed to gain traction.

    But for those leading the country’s heritage conservation movement, it’s still been a welcome shift.

    Moe Moe Lwin from the Yangon Heritage Trust said the group and the regional government “share the importance of heritage and the conservation of it”, as well as the need for “more facilities for the public, particularly recreational facilities”.

    She’s cautiously optimistic about the likely direction of urban development in Yangon but also anticipates pushback. “I think the government will have pressure from the developers – where to give or where to allow the new developments, and how much to give and in which area, as well as what to limit.”

    Founded in 2012, the Yangon Heritage Trust has been a tireless advocate for sensitive development of the city. Chairman Thant Myint-U, a noted writer and historian, regularly outlines a vision for a modern, liveable city that integrates the new and old. But the trust also struggles to fight perceptions that it is anti-progress or seeking to retain Yangon’s time-warp atmosphere.

    More info : Southeast Asia Globe
  • 22June

    Syrian refugees to be trained to rebuild Palmyra and other heritage sites

    The World Monuments Fund (WMF) is launching a £500,000 scheme to train Syrian refugees living in and around the Zaatari camp on the Jordanian border in traditional stone masonry. The aim is to develop skills so that cultural heritage sites that have been caught in crossfire or destroyed by Isil can be rebuilt once peace is restored to Syria. 

    Organisers of the training course, which is due to launch in the border town of Mafraq in Jordan in August, are also hoping to recruit Jordanian students in a bid to alleviate some of the pressures put on the local community by the volume of people fleeing war-torn Syria. The project is being developed with Petra National Trust, a Jordanian not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to promote the protection and conservation of the Unesco World Heritage site of Petra.

    “There has been enormous destruction in Palmyra, Nimrud and Aleppo,” says John Darlington, the executive director of the World Monuments Fund Britain, which is working with the New York-based WMF on the scheme. “When the dust settles, one of the things that will stop restoration is that we will see money going into places like Palmyra but the skills on the ground won’t be there. Because so many people have left, there’s a huge skills deficit.” 

    There are an estimated 80,000 refugees living in the Zaatari camp, with a further 80,000 thought to be living in the neighbouring towns and villages. 

    The blueprint for the Syrian project came from a similar scheme begun by the WMF in Zanzibar two years ago. While the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral was being repaired, an intensive programme of skills development was also launched. There is now a pool of local trained stone masons to help with future repairs.

    “We are looking for stone masons who are already living in the local community or in the refugee community. It’s a long-held tradition in that part of the world,” Darlington says. “We don’t want to parachute in a load of experts and then leave. The idea is to train people who will become trainers themselves, so it will cascade out.”

    With the conflict in Syria raging on, it is too early to say how long the project will last, or indeed when the WMF will be able to start work there. “We are aiming to recruit 34 trainees who will be able to train others,” Darlington says. “If the project is shown to make a real difference, we will be rolling it out elsewhere.”

    Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, much of the country’s cultural heritage has come under attack, especially in the cities of Palmyra and Aleppo, where historical buildings such as the Citadel of Aleppo and Great Mosque of Aleppo have been either destroyed or damaged.

    The scheme is supported by the UK’s Cultural Protection Fund, which was established in 2016 to safeguard monuments and heritage sites at risk due to conflict. Other projects to benefit from the £30m fund include a scheme, led by the University of Liverpool, focused on Yazidi historic shrines in Dohuk, Mosul and Sinjar in Iraq; the creation of a database of cultural heritage on Soqotra, a Yemeni archipelago between Yemen and the Horn of Africa; and initiatives in the Occupied Palestinian Territories including the establishment of a new cultural and youth centre. 

    More info : The Art Newspaper
  • 15June

    Conservation Study of the Village Gostuša in Pirot district

    The conservation study of endangered vernacular architecture in this small but unique mountain village is a testament to the accomplished work and high standard of conservation which can be achieved with firm commitment and determination in spite of a limited budget. The research for the conservation work was remarkably thorough and was conducted with vision and a clear action plan”, said the jury of this project in Gostusa, in the municipality of Pirot.


    The researchers carried out an architectural survey on each building and produced detailed and comprehensive documentation regarding the architecture and construction techniques used in each individual structure. The study had a compelling educational element with a strong engagement from students in the relevant fields. The project coordinators were committed to clarifying the importance of the restoration works to the local community and were intent on involving and educating the village’s inhabitants in each aspect of the project. The completion of the study and building renovations has resulted in an enthusiasm for heritage among local people and an improvement in their rural lifestyle.

    The project is of international significance and is already acting as an influential example of good practice thanks to the researchers’ contribution to international conferences and their perseverance in gaining recognition for the village of Gostusa and its surrounding landscape.


    The intention of the team to re-use the former government buildings as cultural centres which could potentially encourage tourism to the area and revitalise the village is a valuable aspect of this project”, the jury noted.

    The jury found “the methodology and the approach to raising awareness of this village to be extraordinarily well done”. While the protection of the vernacular architecture is apparent, the study went beyond these material factors in boosting the cultural identity of the area and providing new potential for social and economic growth in this special region. The project should be regarded as an admirable example of the influence of good research and conservation.

    More info : EU Prize For Cultural heritage
  • 28March

    UN Security Council adopts historic resolution for the protection of heritage

    New York, 24 March 2017 - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova addressed today’s public briefing of the United Nations Security Council on “Maintenance of international peace and security: destruction and trafficking of cultural heritage by terrorist groups and in situations of armed conflict,” where the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2347 for the protection of heritage.

    More info : UNESCO
  • 13March

    Ancient Round Temples Discovered In Sudan: Architecture Unique To The World

    Archaeologists have unearthed three ancient temples in Sudan that are unlike any other buildings on Earth. The temples’ basic structural difference is what makes them unique: They are round. And the lead archaeologist at the site believes that the discovery will alter the way the world thinks about Africa.

    Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported this week that veteran archaeologist Charles Bonnet, who has worked extensively in Sudanese archaeology, insists that the three newly announced temples are unlike anything that has ever been discovered.

    More info : Inquisitr
  • 13February

    Archaeologists unearth 2,300-year-old cooking pot containing forelegs of a cow

    Unearthed in a tomb chamber near the Chinese city of Xinyang was a large clay pot.  Inside this pot were bones that have been analyzed as the forelegs of a cow.


    What cow bones were doing in this pot in a tomb is uncertain, but there are theories about them.  Jokingly penned as an ancient beef stew, the presence of the bones is currently little understood.

    What is known is that the bowl is a form of “ding,” and it has been dated back to the kingdom of Chu, which reigned in central and eastern China from 1,100 BC to 223 BC.  Also in the tomb are various other bowls and containers in various states of repair.

    More info : The Vintage News
  • 06February

    Lost Egyptian City Found Underwater After 1200 Years

    1,200 years ago the ancient Egyptian city of Heracleion disappeared beneath the Mediterranean. Founded around 8th century BC, well before the foundation of Alexandria in 331 BC, it is believed Heracleion served as the obligatory port of entry to Egypt for all ships coming from the Greek world.

    Prior to its discovery in 2000 by archaeologist Franck Goddio and the IEASM (European Institute for Underwater Archaeology), no trace of Thonis-Heracleion had been found (the city was known to the Greeks as Thonis). Its name was almost razed from the memory of mankind, only preserved in ancient classic texts and rare inscriptions found on land by archaeologists.

    More info : Passion Galaria
  • 25January

    Why Clive of India’s treasures are up for export to Qatar again

    Two Mughal treasures brought to Britain by Robert Clive, the commander-in-chief of British India, also known as Clive of India, have been export-deferred again—13 years after an earlier attempt to send them from the UK to Qatar. 

    When Clive of India’s descendants consigned a very rare jade and gold flask decorated with emeralds and rubies along with a ruby and sapphire huqqa pipe to Christie’s in 2004, both were bought by Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed Al-Thani, the culture minister of Qatar. After export licences were applied for, the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), which wanted the flask, and the National Trust, which wanted the huqqa, set out to raise money to match the prices. But the Qataris then withdrew the licence applications, blocking any purchase. This led to calls for a reform of export procedures to prevent foreign owners thwarting UK museums. 

    Sheikh Saud, a distant cousin of the ruling emir, was one of the most prolific art buyers in the early 2000s. However, it was often unclear whether his acquisitions were for himself or for the Qatari state, and he was put under house arrest for a short time in 2005. He died in London in 2014.

    On 18 January 2017 the UK culture minister, Matt Hancock, announced that new export licences were being deferred on the two treasures, but the prices the UK institutions have to match have more than doubled since the first export application. The flask is now valued at £6m (£2,973,000 in 2004) and the huqqa at £240,000 (£98,000 in 2004). Both pieces were made for the Mughal court and were brought back by Clive of India after his victory in the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The flask dates from the early 17th century and the huqqa from the mid 18th century.

    After the Qataris withdrew the export licence applications in 2005, they were required to keep the objects in the UK. The flask and huqqa were lent to the V&A’s 2009 Maharaja exhibition and are still on loan to the museum. Although the flask travelled with the exhibition when it toured to Munich, Toronto, San Francisco, Chicago and Richmond (Virginia), the huqqa is very fragile (its enamel is flaking off) and has remained at the museum.

    Last year the V&A was told that the loan agreement for the two treasures would not be renewed. Qatar Museums wants to display them in Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art, which opened in 2008. The V&A and the National Trust are now considering whether to try to make matching offers, despite the increased prices. The initial deadlines run to 17 April for the huqqa and 17 May for the flask, although they could be extended. This time, the hope is that Qatar Museums will not simply withdraw the export applications if UK buyers step forward. 

    More info : Art Newspaper
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