08/07/15

The fight to preserve Gaza’s archaeological heritage

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A year ago this week, the onset of Israel’s military assault on militants in Gaza left much of the strip in ruins. The territory’s historical monuments were left severely damaged by this and previous attacks.

This audio slideshow explores how Gaza’s archaeologists work to preserve the area’s antiquities despite a lack of funding and international assistance.

Ghassan Weshah, head of the department of archaeology at the Islamic University of Gaza, says the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has warned that various Palestinian archaeological sites, including the monastery of St Hilarion, are endangered.

With few resources, exacerbated by an eight-year blockade, archaeologists in Gaza have had to find innovative home-grown ways to maintain the territory’s historical sites. They have developed their own compounds made from local materials to restore and preserve antiquities. Government budget cuts and the withdrawal of European experts and equipment have also forced Gaza to adopt simpler methods, such as using local workers to manually dig during archaeological excavations, says Jamal Abu Reeda, the director-general of the Ministry of Tourism’s General Directorate of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage.

This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Middle East & North Africa desk.