Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Wednesday, 6 July 2016
Joint submission to the Chilcot Enquiry
Back in January-February 2010, Peter Stone of UK Blue Shield co-ordinated a joint submission to the Chilcot Enquiry. The submission is referred to in paragraphs 801-826 of the Chilcot Report, published today, but I can't find it on the Iraq Inquiry website. As a contributor to, and editor of, that report (though not a signatory — I was Vice-Chair of BISI's council at the time), and as it was always meant to be a public document, I thought I'd post it here, along with the cover letter and press release issued with it, on 17 February 2010.
These documents were submitted on behalf of:
- UK National Commission for UNESCO
- British Academy
- British Institute for the Study of Iraq
- Council for British Archaeology
- European Association of Archaeologists
- Institute for Archaeologists
- International Council on Monuments and Sites UK
- International Council of Museums UK
- Museums Association
- National Trust
- Nautical Archaeology Society
- Society of Antiquaries of London
- UK & Ireland Committee of the Blue Shield.
Friday, 6 May 2016
Investigations at Alexandria-on-the-Tigris, aka Charax Spasinou
|Along the ramparts at Charax Spasinou|
|The Hellenistic town grid and large buildings are clearly visible on this geophysics plot|
|A row of Parthian torpedo jars lining a ditch|
Tuesday, 2 February 2016
I'm happy to report that we've received a reply to the collective letter sent last November, which outlined BISI's, and others' views on how the government's proposed Cultural Protection Fund should work, in support of the UK's promised ratification of Hague 1954.
The letter, written by Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, reads in full:
Thank you for letter of 24 November 2015 to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sports, The Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP. I am responding as the Minister responsible for this policy area and I apologise for the delay in replying.
We are delighted to receive you and your colleagues’ support for our plans to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention and its two protocols, and for the Cultural Protection Fund.
The Department is firmly committed to introducing new legislation to enable the UK to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention and its two Protocols at the earliest opportunity. We believe that doing so will ensure the UK and its cultural experts and practitioners in the field are seen to be not only serious about cultural protection, but world leaders in this area.
On 25 November 2015, as part of the Spending Review, we were delighted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £30million in Official Development Assistance funding for the establishment of our Cultural Protection Fund. Planning is currently underway towards implementing the Fund with the expectation of accepting grant applications in the spring.
We have sent out our consultation document to you and your co-signatories, and would warmly welcome your views on the Cultural Protection Fund. Your expertise would help inform its further development. In addition, we are holding a stakeholder workshop on 11 February which I believe a number of your co-signatories are attending.
I have taken Peter Stone’s points and your support of them into serious consideration - and it is precisely such strategic thinking and expertise which we are seeking with our consultation. I agree entirely with the principles behind the points on combatting duplication of effort; on the need for training; proactive prevention; emergency response; and long term support. These points cohere with the principles of the Fund as outlined in our consultation document, and correspond with the outcomes I announced at the Cultural Protection Summit of 28 October 2015, namely: cultural heritage protection, training, and advocacy and education. Indeed, the British Museum’s Iraqi Rescue Archaeology Programme, a pilot programme of the Fund, is already adhering to these aims, and we will be encouraging grant applications from other programmes and organisations who can provide services pursuant to these outcomes.
We will be providing further information about the Cultural Protection Fund and on the Government’s approach to ratifying the Hague Convention in the spring of this year.
Thank you again for your support and your offer of assistance in this area. I do very much hope that you will respond to our consultation document and am delighted that some of the signatories have made to time to come along to our workshops.
Ed Vaizey MP
Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy
Wednesday, 9 December 2015
|View of the Eanna Precinct from the ruins of the Uruk ziggurat Photo: Mary Shepperson|
|Excavating a double-pot burial with Prof Stuart Campbell Photo: Jane Moon|
Tuesday, 24 November 2015
In the latest round of the UK Blue Shield-BISI campaign for the ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention, today I sent the following open letter to UK Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, encouraging him to act on the announcement he made last June.
Rt Hon John Whittingdale
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Dear Mr Whittingdale
Ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention
and the UK Cultural Property Protection Fund
As representatives of some of the UK's leading cultural heritage organisations we, the undersigned, were delighted when last June the Government publicly announced its decision to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its associated protocols. This legislation will give enormous support to the Armed Forces’ ambitions to support local communities in the areas in which it is militarily engaged.
We are also hugely supportive of the Government's intention to create a Cultural Property Protection Fund, as announced in the same press release. In particular we endorse the proposal that has already been put to you by Peter Stone, UNESCO Professor of Culture Property Protection and Peace at Newcastle University, Chair of the UK Committee of the Blue Shield and cultural property advisor to the UK Government during the Iraq War of 2003. He recommends that the Fund be concentrated on five areas of activity, namely:
- A co-ordination centre, with a staff of three or four, to act as a practical hub for networking, liaison, and communication for the complex web of academic, NGO professional, governmental, and military expertise in the area, to ensure minimal reduplication of effort. This is, in our opinion, the top priority for funding now.
- Training for individuals and organisations in the practicalities of Cultural Property Protection, facilitated by the co-ordination centre.
- Developing and implementing procedures for proactive protection of Cultural Property for countries such as Lebanon, which are at under real risk, where proactive protection could be implemented now and from which international guidelines could be developed.
- Emergency response protocols to deliver rapid, specialised assessment and initial conservation first aid to countries suffering from conflict or environmental disaster.
- Long-term support for Cultural Property in post-conflict and post-disaster zones, such as post- earthquake Nepal.
We thank you again for all your efforts to make the UK a leader in international Cultural Property Protection and look forward to concrete news soon of the parliamentary schedule for ratification, and of the budget and remit of the Cultural Property Fund. We would be happy to be of assistance in any way we can.
Professor Eleanor Robson
Chair of Council
British Institute for the Study of Iraq
Dr Mike Heyworth, MBE
Council for British Archaeology
Mr Peter Hinton
Chartered Institute of Archaeologists
Ms Sharon Heal
Ms Kate Pugh, OBE
The Heritage Alliance
Mr Julian Radcliffe
The Art Loss Register
Dr Neil Brodie
Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research
University of Glasgow
Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe
Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology
University of Oxford
Mr Philip Deans
Doctoral Research Student
School of Arts and Cultures
Dr Paul Fox
University of York
Dr Nigel Pollard
Associate Professor of Ancient History
Mr Robert Bevan
Architecture Critic of The Evening Standard
Dr Bijan Rouhani
ICOMOS Working Group on Syria and Iraq
Mr Peter A. Clayton
Member of the Treasure Valuation Committee
The British Museum
Dr Robert Bewley
Endangered Archaeology of the Middle East and North Africa Project
University of Oxford
Professor Graham Philip
Department of Archaeology
You'll also find this letter on the Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of UKBS and BISI, for you to like and share. You're equally welcome to redistribute it in any other convenient way, but please let us know, for the record if you so.
As always, I'll post an update as soon as I have news.
Wednesday, 5 August 2015
Remembering Gertrude Bell
BISI was founded in memory of Gertrude Bell in 1932. An explorer and archaeologist, Bell was instrumental in the foundation of the Iraq Museum.
BISI joined forces with the British Academy in 2013 to hold a conference examining the many facets of Bell's legacy in Iraq, including her role in the making of the Iraqi state.
At the Gertrude Bell Archive, Newcastle University, you can read Bell's digitised diaries and letters, and her beautiful photographs from her travels in Iraq and the Middle East.
|Belinda Lewis with the care-taker who has tended the cemetery |
where Gertrude Bell is buried since the 1940s