• Tripoli

  • Tuesday, May 14, 2024 at 8:03 AM
    Last Update : Thursday, May 16, 2024 at 6:51 AM

EU Experts in Tripoli Conference Discuss Protection of Libya’s Cultural Heritage

(AWP) - Libyan and European officials discussed plans to protect Libya’s antiquities from looting, trafficking and vandalism amid calls to rescue the heritage of a country that is still experiencing political and security instability 13 years after its former leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was ousted.

The first International Conference on the Protection and Conservation of Antiquities in Libya was launched at the National Museum in As-Saraya Al-Hamra, or ‘the Red Castle’ area, in Tripoli, attended by European Union ambassador to Libya, Nicola Orlando, and 20 experts from five European countries.

Speaking at the event, Ambassador Orlando stressed the importance of working to preserve Libya’s cultural heritage, which he described as “extraordinary.”

He said, “This heritage belongs to all Libyans and humanity as a whole and represents our rich and common Mediterranean roots. Libya’s economic potential and job opportunities are great. This is why we must protect it together against looting, trafficking and destruction.”

The conference, scheduled to run until Tuesday, is also attended by archaeological missions active in Libya and law-enforcement agencies from Italy in cooperation with Libya’s Department of Antiquities and the Interior Ministry’s tourism police.

Mohamed Faraj, President of Libya’s Department of Antiquities (DOA), said the conference brings together a host of international experts from France, Italy, Greece and Germany as well as local experts, in addition to heads and members of archaeological missions working inside Libya and linked to licenses from the DOA.

“Also attending are security dignitaries from Italy and the French agency for combating illegal trade in antiquities and cultural property,” he said in statements to the Arab World Press (AWP).

Vincent Michel, Director of the French Archaeological Mission in Ancient Libya (CERLA), told AWP that the conference aims to survey the archaeological pieces that were taken out of Libya, from the stages of determining their identities, to litigation and then finally to their arrival in Libya.

Michel, also a Professor of Archaeology at the University of Poitiers, said the conference is important because “it brings together archaeologists and authorities concerned with the protection and conservation of antiquities, including security officials, judges and workers in the field.”

He stressed, “The joy will be complete when these pieces return to Libya so that the Libyans will be able to preserve this heritage which is a source of pride to each and every human being who has lived on this land and seeks to protect its wealth.”

Earlier this year, the DOA recorded attacks on archaeological sites in the cities of Tobruk, Derna, al-Bayda, Shahat, Tolmeita and the eastern city of Benghazi.
International missions documented the theft of thousands of archaeological pieces in the country, including statues and historical coins after the collapse of the Gaddafi regime under mass protests and later battles against armed groups in 2011.