Tag Archives: heritage

We need to protect the heritage of the Apollo missions



Parts of the Apollo missions remain on the Moon, here you can see one of the legs of the base of the lunar landing module.
NASA

Alice Gorman, Flinders University

It’s 50 years since the two Apollo 11 astronauts – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin – spent 22 hours collecting samples, deploying experiments and sometimes just playing in the Sea of Tranquillity on the Moon.

In doing so, they created an archaeological site unique in human history.

Now, with what’s been called the New Space Race and plans to return to the Moon, the Apollo 11 and other lunar sites are under threat. We need to protect this heritage for future generations.




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Apollo 11’s archaeological site

The archaeological site of Tranquillity Base consists of the hardware left behind, as well as the marks made in the lunar surface by the astronauts and instruments.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin with the seismic experiment and other equipment left on the Moon.
NASA

The hardware component includes the landing module, the famous flag (no longer standing), experiment packages, cameras, antennas, commemorative objects, space boots and many other discarded objects – more than 106 in total.

Around these objects are the first human footprints on the Moon as well as the tracks the astronauts made walking around, and the places where they dug out samples of rock and dust to take back to Earth for scientific analysis.

The artefacts, traces and the landscape constitute an archaeological site. The relationships between them can be used by archaeologists to study human behaviour in this environment so different to Earth, with one-sixth terrestrial gravity and no atmosphere.

Assessing the heritage value

Not only this, but the site has heritage value for people on Earth. To assess this, we can look at a number of categories of cultural significance. Those in the Burra Charter are widely used across the world for heritage assessment.

Historic: There is no doubt that, as the first place where humans set foot on another celestial body, this is a very important place in global history. It also represents the ideologies of the Cold War (1947-1992) between the US and the USSR.

Buzz Aldrin leaves a footprint on the first Moon landing.
NASA

Scientific: What can we learn from the site? More particularly, what questions would we no longer be able to answer if Tranquillity Base was damaged or destroyed?

This is not just about archaeological research into human behaviour on the Moon. Apollo 11 has been exposed to the harsh lunar environment for 50 years. The surfaces of the hardware are accidental experiments in themseves: they carry the record of 50 years of micrometeorite and cosmic ray bombardment. Finding out how well the materials have survived can also provide information about how to design future missions.

Aesthetic: This type of cultural significance is about how we experience a place. While we can’t assess it in person, there are films and photographs that give us a feeling for the place. This includes the light, shadows and colours of the lunar surface from the perspective of the human senses. The aesthetic qualities have inspired many artists and musicians, including astronaut Alan Bean who devoted his post-Apollo 12 life to painting the Moon.

Astronaut Alan Bean deploys some experiments during his Apollo 12 mission on the Moon.
NASA

Social: This is about the value that contemporary communities place on the site. For the 600 million-plus people who watched the television broadcast of the landing, it was a life-changing moment representing the ingenuity of human technology and visions of a space-age future.

But the mission did not mean the same for everyone. Some African-Americans protested against Apollo 11, seeing it as a waste of resources when there was such great economic and social disparity between white and black communities in the US. For them, it was a sign of human failure rather than a triumph.

The larger the community that has an interest in a heritage place, the higher its level of social significance. It could be argued that Apollo 11 has outstanding universal significance, like places on the World Heritage List (unfortunately the World Heritage Convention cannot be applied to space).

What are the threats?

In the past few years we have seen an increase in proposed missions to return to the Moon. Some have stated their intention to revisit the Apollo sites, by human crew or robot – and this could lead to the removal of material, for souvenirs or science.

But the sites are both fragile and unprotected. The two primary risks to their survival are uncontrolled looting, and damage from abrasive and sticky lunar dust.

Look at the dust thrown up by the Lunar Roving Vehicle driven by astronaut John W. Young during the Apollo 16 mission. Both dust and rover are still on the Moon.
NASA

Removing material from the sites damages the integrity of the artefacts and the relationships between them. A casual visit could erase the original footprints and astronaut traverses. The corrosive dust disturbed by surface activities could wear away the materials.

Dust was a problem for all the crewed lunar missions. Apollo 16 commander John Young said: “Dust is the number one concern in returning to the Moon.”

The dust can be stirred up by plumes from landing or ascending vehicles, driving vehicles, walking on the surface, or, in the next phase of lunar settlement, by construction and industrial activities, such as mining.

Attempts at protection

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 forbids making territorial claims in space. Applying any national heritage legislation to a place on the Moon could be interpreted as a territorial claim.

The US states of California and New Mexico have placed the Apollo 11 artefacts left on the Moon on a heritage list. They can do this because, under the treaty, the US legally owns the artefacts. But this does not protect the site itself.

Note the footprints on this image of astronaut Charles M. Duke junior on the Apollo 16 mission.
NASA

NASA has established a set of heritage guidelines for its sites on the Moon. The guidelines propose buffer zones around these areas, inside which no-one should enter. They make recommendations for approaching the sites to minimise dust disturbance.

In May 2019, a bill called the One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act was introduced to the US Congress. Its purpose is:

To require any Federal agency that issues licences to conduct activities in outer space to include in the requirements for such licences an agreement relating to the preservation and protection of the Apollo 11 landing site, and for other purposes.

But the bill applies only to Apollo 11 and does not have similar requirements for the five other Apollo landing sites. It also applies only to US missions. It’s a step in the right direction, but there is still much more to be done.

The plaque left on the lunar module base during the Apollo 11 mission.
NASA

Only in the last decade has the idea of space archaeology gained legitimacy. Until recently, there was no urgency to establish an international framework to manage the cultural values of lunar heritage.




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Why the Moon is such a cratered place


Now we’re in a new situation. On Earth, it’s common for industrial or urban activities that disturb the environment to be subject to an environmental impact assessment, which includes heritage.

Even when there are no laws to force companies to pay attention to heritage, many consider it important to seek a Social Licence to Operate – support from stakeholder communities to continue their activities.

Everyone on Earth is a stakeholder in the heritage of the Moon. Fifty years from now, what will remain of the Apollo 11 and other sites? What new meanings will people draw from it?The Conversation

Alice Gorman, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology and Space Studies, Flinders University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Tampering with history: how India’s ruling party is erasing the Muslim heritage of the nation’s cities


Sudipta Sen, University of California, Davis

For centuries many millions of Hindus have gathered at the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Sarswati in northern India for the festival of Kumbh Mela. Their pilgrimage, which ends with a sacred bath in the Ganges, takes them through the historic city of Allahabad.

Allahabad is no longer on the map of India. In October 2018, officials of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) changed its name to Prayagraj. Allahabad was founded by the Mughals, Muslim rulers from Central Asia who governed India from the 16th to the 19th centuries. This name change emphasises the primacy of the Hindu gathering over the city’s Mughal heritage.

This renaming is part of a growing trend in the lead-up to India’s current general election, which is expected to return the BJP government. To appeal to its voter base of Hindu nationalists, the BJP is attempting to erase India’s Mughal legacy both from the landscape and from the history books.




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India and the Mughals

Emperor Akbar the Great.
Wikimedia

The Mughals had a more than 300-year presence on the subcontinent and exerted a significant influence on Indian art, architecture, language and cuisine.

Allahabad’s Mughal history begins with the Emperor Akbar (1542-1605). Akbar was struck by the natural setting and serenity of Prayag and commissioned the old settlements on either side of the Ganges and their adjoining villages to erect a new city. He named it Illahabas, adding the Hindustani word basa (home or abode) to ilahi, the Arabic word for “divine”.

Allahabad Fort on the banks of the Yamuna river.
Arun Sambhu Mishra/Shutterstock

Akbar secured the city with an imposing fort overlooking the sacred waterway and put an end to the long-established practice of ritual suicide by penitent Hindus. They would typically jump into a well or into the torrents of the river from a giant and auspicious banyan tree. The tree was now placed inside the fort in a chamber that became known as the Patalpuri Temple, where Hindu pilgrims continued to offer their devotions.

During the reign of Akbar’s grandson, Shah Jahan, best known for building the Taj Mahal, the city became popularly known as Allahabad.

The Taj Mahal is the most iconic example of Mughal architecture.
JTang/Shutterstock

The rise of Hindu nationalism

Yogi Adityanath.
Wikimedia

The campaign to rename Allahabad was led by the Hindu priest and activist Yogi Adityanath, who rose to fame as the founder of a militant Hindu youth-wing group. Adityanath is now chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP), India’s most populous northern state.

As one of the most outspoken members of the ruling party, he has repeatedly indulged in vitriol against religious minorities, especially Muslims. According to Adityanath, the identity, history and traditions of India must be salvaged from the taint of alien, Muslim invaders.

The rechristening of Allahabad reflects a strident demand of Hindu militants at the helm of Indian politics to reclaim towns, streets, airports and railway stations which are seen as reminders of India’s “Muslim” past. These calls have grown louder and more insistent during Narendra Modi’s tenure as prime minister and leader of the BJP.




Read more:
Why giant statues of Hindu gods and leaders are making Muslims in India nervous


Rewriting history

Another notable case is the recent renaming of the British-era railway junction of Mughalsarai. The word sarai denotes a rest house or inn. Mughalsarai, less than 20km from the sacred Indian city of Varanasi, is one of the busiest railway yards in the country. It is located along the historic Grand Trunk Road, one of the oldest roads in Asia, which connects Northern India to Central Asia.

The Indian government’s nod to the proposal to rename the station came, again, from Adityanath who wanted to claim it in the name of Deendayal Upadhyaya (1916 –1968). Upadhyaya, a leader of the Jan Sangh Party, was an early ideologue of Rashtrya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organisation of the BJP.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to the memory of Deendayal Upadhyaya.
Wikimedia

The move led to an uproar in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament. Opponents of this proposal argued that Upadhyaya was not a “freedom fighter” or a truly national figure. Other critics see this move to commemorate an early proponent of right-wing Hindu nationalism as the BJP’s attempt to elevate its leaders to national prominence.

In the popular imagination, the early leaders of the Congress Party (the BJP’s main opposition) are still seen as the key architects of India’s freedom struggle. The memory of Congress leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawarhalal Nehru is honoured throughout India in the form of public monuments and landmarks. The BJP’s move to elevate Upadhyaya is an attempt to insert one of the founders of its political creed into the public memory of India’s independence struggle.




Read more:
India Tomorrow part 2: the politics of Hindu nationalism


From decolonisation to erasure

What we are witnessing is not simply a facile attempt by a majoritarian government to strip facets of the popular memory of the northern Indian plains and its shared, historical landscape. It is also the extension of a patriotic animus once directed at the historic markers of the British colonial era that found recompense and solace in changing place names such as Bombay to Mumbai and Madras to Chennai.

Decolonising Mumbai. In 1996, the Victoria Terminus in Mumbai was renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus after a local warrior king.
Mazur Travel/Shutterstock

The new dispensation targeting places like Allahabad and Mughalserai sends clear signals to multitudes of the Indian nation that, much like the British, the Mughals who shaped more than 300 years of Indian history were also outsiders and should not feature in the story of India’s one true national heritage.The Conversation

Sudipta Sen, Professor of History, University of California, Davis

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Trash or treasure? A lot of space debris is junk, but some is precious heritage


Random Thoughts

File 20170919 32071 1a2xfcz
The Telstar 1 satellite inspired a chart-topping pop tune, the iconic black-and-white hexagonal Adidas soccer ball, and maybe even a Doctor Who creature, the Mecanoids.
National Physical Laboratory

Alice Gorman, Flinders University

Most of us will never have the opportunity to travel into space. But we can feel connected to it in other ways.

Above us right now, and every day, are extraordinary old satellites from the 1950s and 1960s, orbiting at speeds of 7-8 kilometres per second.

They’re part of our space heritage.

Deciding which parts of this heritage should stay, and which should be on a “hit list” for removal, is the tricky bit.


Listen:Speaking with: Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield


Cultural heritage is defined as “things from the past and present, worth preserving for present and future generations”.

In recent decades there has been a movement to recognise the heritage of the modern world, including the…

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Against ISIS’ destruction of heritage, and for curators as the cure of souls


Jose Antonio Gonzalez Zarandona, Deakin University

Barely a week after ISIS beheaded Khaled al-Asaad, the Syrian expert who devoted his life to the study of Palmyra, the group is reported to have destroyed a nearly 2,000-year-old temple dedicated to Baalshamin, Semitic god of rain and fecundity.

The reason seems clear: it is part of a plan by ISIS to get rid of the so-called idols, destroy the past and erase history, by targeting the heritage of Iraq and Syria.

Following the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001 by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the unprecedented scale of heritage destruction currently undertaken by ISIS seeks to undermine the concept of heritage as professed by international organisations such as UNESCO, ICOMOS or ICCROM – that is, a Western concept very well grounded in our contemporary visual culture of the digital industrial age.

Khaled al-Asaad.
EPA PHOTO/Youssef Badawi

With the destruction of the Palmyra temple, ISIS, as has been shown through previous cases of iconoclasm, is sending a very clear message: territories under ISIS control need to be radically transformed, so Year Zero of their Caliphate can commence, and that entails the destruction of idols.

The question remains: what is an idol before the eyes of ISIS’ members? A straight answer is: everything that resembles the human form and that which is cherished by infidels in the West.

And the best medium to spread this war of images is, of course, the internet. As the German curator Peter Weibel eloquently put it in the book Ravaged. Art and Culture in Times of Conflict (2014), the reason behind these images is to show that a war is taking place, so we do not forget it.

But who is winning this war, one might ask. It seems whoever shows more violence. The ultimate reason to show these “spectacular” images of destruction is to assist ISIS in spreading fear and installing a permanent state of war in our minds.

In this sense, one of the most horrific images that ISIS has recently circulated is that of the beheaded body of Khaled al-Asaad, a scholar who was killed because he was fulfilling his duty as a curator and archaeologist.

Preserving heritage

By preserving the past, archaeologists working in extreme conditions in territories controlled by ISIS are taking the role of curator in its truest sense. The cultural cleansing that is currently taking place in Syria, demonstrates more than ever that the study of history, art and antiquity is a high-risk profession.

Iconoclasm, as we all know, means the breaking of images. In the 8th and 9th centuries the word was used in Byzantium in reference to the removal and destruction of icons: sacred images depicting Christian divinities.

During the Catholic Reformation in Switzerland, Germany and England during the 16th century, it was used to describe the destruction and fury that characterised the Protestants who pulled down from Christian churches the artefacts they considered blasphemous and caused idolatry.

Iconoclasts claimed that objects made of stone and wood could not represent the true essence of the divine, and they dulled the senses.

Iconoclasm and idolatry are two words that have been regularly used by the media and ISIS respectively, in reference to the destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria.

As a result, the value of cultural heritage in these two countries has dramatically increased due to the threat that ISIS represents. Otherwise, how can we explain that in 2012 Iraqi forces were deployed to Syria, in order to protect the revered Sayyida Zainab mosque outside Damascus?

The reason given was to avoid sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni, as was the case in 2006 when the Samarra gold-dome mosque that contains the remains of two Shia Imams was targeted by Al-Qaeda, sinking Iraq into a civil war that lasted for two years.

And many of us will remember that in February 2015 Turkish soldiers crossed over to Syria to save the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the founding patriarch of the Ottoman Empire, in order to prevent their destruction by ISIS.

Turkish tanks return to Turkey from the tomb of Suleyman Shah, Kobane, Syria, February 21, 2015.
EPA/Mursel Coban/DEPO Photos

We may try to understand ISIS’ iconoclasm of cultural heritage as a replica of former models of ethnic cleansing and purification as those described in Byzantium and Northern Europe.

The archaeologist as a curator

One of the main differences between previous iconoclastic waves and our age is the figure of the curator. Think about the French archaeologist Alexandre Lenoir, who defended the monuments in 1793 at the Abbey of St Denis, when revolutionary forces stormed into the abbey and destroyed the tombs of French royalty.

Nowadays, we are faced with the figure of the archaeologist who is not only an expert on antiquity, but who is also a cultural expert and a manager in preserving the past. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, curator (from the Latin curator) has different meanings, but it originally meant “one who has the care or charge of a person or thing”.

In the case of Khaled al-Asaad, his role as an archaeologist entailed the study of the ancient city of Palmyra, occupied at different points of time by several cultures, regardless of who the owner of this heritage site was.

It is no secret that in some countries, the post of archaeologist carries a lot of political capital, and this translates into the power of consolidating knowledge, but also to control it, such as Zawi Hawass in Egypt or Eduardo Matos in Mexico.

In his role at the service of the State (the Baath Party), al-Asaad fulfilled the role of archaeologist, rather than that of a curator. Nonetheless, when ISIS captured the city he had tirelessly studied and took him hostage, al-Asaad was tortured and questioned about antiquities that he hid – a measure that prevented ISIS from looting and profiting as it had done with other artefacts.

In their ridiculous attempt to justify his death, ISIS accused al-Asaad of being an apostate, because he talked at “infidel conferences” and as a government employee, he served as “the director of idolatry”.

Working in extremely difficult conditions, al-Asaad took care of the city he loved. In charge of Palmyra, al-Asaad took his role of curator seriously until the end.

Another definition of the word curator describes it as someone “who has the cure of souls”. This is important to bear in mind in light of the tragic death of Khalid al-Asaad, who was beheaded by ISIS, his body hanged from a pole and a photograph taken to certify his death.

As someone with the ability to cure souls, al-Asaad tried to prevent the destruction of heritage, because he was convinced of the power of heritage to heal souls which are tormented by idols.

The Conversation

Jose Antonio Gonzalez Zarandona is Associate Research Fellow, Heritage Destruction Specialist at Deakin University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Article: Historic Heritage Shops of Australia


The link below is to an article (with photos) on Australian heritage shops.

For more visit:
http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/australias-historic-heritage-shops.htm


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