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Reflections on contemporary and historical aspects of heritage protection and archaeology in wartime

Report on the Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Protection in Wartime: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives workshop

On 20 May 2011, Swansea University’s Callaghan Centre for the Study of Conflict, Power and Empire brought together international practitioners and academics to consider contemporary and historical aspects of heritage protection and archaeology in wartime, in a workshop organised by Dr Nigel Pollard (Swansea University College of Arts and Humanities/Department of History and Classics). 


This issue is one of great contemporary importance and interest, not only against the backdrop of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also current unrest in the Middle East, including Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya), which saw the genesis of British Army measures to protect heritage sites in 1941.


One aim of the workshop was to examine how academic research (including historical studies) can influence and assist the development of policy and practice for heritage protection in theatres of conflict. Consequently Laurie Rush (US Army Fort Drum/American Academy at Rome) and Richard Osgood (UK Ministry of Defence, Defence Infrastructure Organisation) presented on current policy and practice for the protection of archaeological heritage and archaeological education of military personnel, from Salisbury Plain to Iraq and Afghanistan in a session capped by an interactive exercise presenting dilemmas faced by military personnel operating in a heritage rich environment, moderated by Charles Kirke (Cranfield University, formerly British Army).


Other papers focused on a rich selection of historical precedents and examples, examining archaeological research in occupied territory in the First World War (David Gill, Swansea University), politics and archaeology in the post-war British Mandate territories of Palestine and Transjordan (Amara Thornton, UCL Institute of Archaeology), the organisation and activities of the Allied Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Sub-Commission in Italy and Japan in the Second World War (Carlotta Coccoli, University of Milan) and the allied bombing of Pompeii in 1943 (Nigel Pollard, Swansea University). Joanne Berry, Nicola Cooper, Jonathan Dunnage and Nathan Roger (all of Swansea University) also participated.


The workshop identified a number of areas in which academic research might fruitfully aid practitioners and influence future policy, and it is intended to build on its success with future research and further interchange of ideas.

Heritage Conf 

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