90059 - Endangered Global and Cultural Heritage: the Mediterranean and the Near East (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Sustainable cities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students will be aware of the history of the issues, players and politics of cultural heritage on a global perspective. By approaching different case studies from the Mediterranean to the Near Eastern regions, students will show understanding of the ways in which cultural heritage has been manipulated and the strategies to prevent, protect and communicate it. The role of western approaches will be critically evaluated and compared to the local communities perspective. Students will also demonstrate a solid understanding of international regulations on cultural heritage as well as the emerging role of the media in reshaping the way this is perceived and ommunicated. They will also acquire some basic skills on digital tools useful to document and analyze endangered monuments and archaeological sites. They will be also aware of the professional environment, internships and the job opportunities in this field. The methodological and practical skills developed will allow students to demonstrate the ability of critically evaluating the scientific and more popular approaches to cultural heritage. They will be also able to carry out independent scientific researches as well as to collaborate in professional activities aiming at preserving and communicating this field. The different regions and diverse cultures considered will also allow students to relate and works with heterogeneous cultural groups.

Course contents

The course aims to provide students with the basic theoretical knowledge to understand cultural heritage (herafter CH). The course will cover a wide range of topics, such as the CH key concepts, the main actors involved, the strategies put in place to prevent threats and damages, and the current challenges. The global perspective reached by the CH nowadays will be also explored, taking into account the dichotomy between Western and indigenous narratives of heritage.

Emphasis will be given to the threats affecting monuments and archaeological sites through the analysis of case studies from the Mediterranean and the Near East.

Students will be actively involved through discussions and practical tools to understand, map and describe the threats and damages to the CH. The course will illustrate several approaches adopted by local communities, archaeologists and CH professionals to prevent risks.

The course will be divided into three parts:

Part 1) Introducing Global Cultural Heritage. A general introduction to the key concepts, challenges and types of cultural heritage, and the main projects and actors will be presented.

Lesson 1 What is cultural heritage? Why is it a global challenge?

Lesson 2 Rescuing the past. Introductory approaches to threats

Lesson 3 Laws, guidelines and manuals. The pillars of Cultural Heritage

Lesson 4 Heritage beyond the Western view. Global perceptions and strategies

Lesson 5 Uses and abuses of cultural heritage. From UNESCO to ISIS

Part 2) Case studies of heritage under threat. Different case studies of endangered cultural heritage will be treated, with a focus on the drivers and the possible solutions to the threats.

Lesson 6 From looting to the black market. The destruction of cultural heritage for illegal profit

Lesson 7 In the name of God. The destruction of cultural heritage for religious beliefs

Lesson 8 Cultural genocide. The destruction of cultural heritage for ethnic reasons

Lesson 9 Past VS Future. The destruction of cultural heritage for society development

Lesson 10 The wrath of nature. The impact of climate changes on the cultural heritage

Lesson 11 A forgotten past. The effects of abandonment and mismanagement

Part 3) Practical activities. Students will be introduced to different methods for documenting threats to cultural heritage. In addition, they will be requested to present the results of their researches based on a selected topic discussed during part 2.

Lesson 12 Practical session 1 - Mapping looting, ploughing and building-related damages

Lesson 13 Practical session 2 - Multi-temporal damage assessment

Lesson 14 Researches presentation and debate session 1

Lesson 15 Researches presentation and debate session 2



Students attending classes will be asked, every week, to read some articles, reports or book chapters that will be collectively discussed. Materials will be provided in the teaching material section.

Lesson 1

- Harrison, R. 2010. What is Heritage?, In R. Harrison (ed.) Understanding the Politics of Heritage (Understanding Global Heritage), Manchester, 5-42.

- Vecco, M. 2010. A definition of cultural heritage: From the tangible to the intangible. Journal of Cultural Heritage 11, 321-324.

Lesson 2

- Cunliffe, E. 2014. Archaeological site damage in the cycle of war and peace: A Syrian case study. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology & Heritage Studies, 2(3), 229-247.

- Zaina, F. 2019. A Risk Assessment for Cultural Heritage in Southern Iraq: Framing Drivers, Threats and Actions Affecting Archaeological Sites Conservation and Management of Arhcaeological Sites 21, 184-206.

Lesson 3

- The Athens Charter for the Restoration of Historic Monuments - 1931.

- Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict with Regulations for the Execution of the Convention The Hague, 14 May 1954.

- International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (Venice Charter 1964).

- Convention on the means of prohibiting and of ownership of cultural property, preventing the illicit import, export and transfer
(Paris convention 1970).

- UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (Paris 1972).

- ICOMOS Convention on Historic Gardens (Florence Charter 1981).

- UNESCO Underwater Convention 2001.

- UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003.

Lesson 4

- Akagawa, N. 2016. Rethinking the global heritage discourse–overcoming ‘East’and ‘West’?. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 22(1), 14-25.

- Meladze, T., and Uekita, Y. 2020. Reconstructing the Sacred: The Controversial Process of Bagrati Cathedral’s Full-scale Restoration and Its World Heritage Delisting. International Journal of Cultural Property, 27(3), 375-396.

- Tucker, H., and Carnegie, E. 2014. World heritage and the contradictions of ‘universal value’. Annals of Tourism Research, 47, 63-76.

Lesson 5

- Isakhan, B., and González Zarandona, J. A. 2018. Layers of religious and political iconoclasm under the Islamic State: Symbolic sectarianism and pre-monotheistic iconoclasm. International Journal of Heritage Studies 24(1), 1-16.

- Isakhan, B., and Meskell, L. 2019. UNESCO’s project to ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’: Iraqi and Syrian opinion on heritage reconstruction after the Islamic State. International journal of heritage studies 25(11), 1189-1204.

Lesson 6

- Brodie, N. 2006. The plunder of Iraq’s archaeological heritage,
1991-­2005, and the London antiquities trade. In: N. Brodie, M. Kersel, C. Luke and K. W. Tubb (eds.), Archaeology, Cultural
Heritage and the Antiquities Trade
Gainesville: University Press
of Florida, 206-226.

- Stone, E. C. 2015. An update on the looting of archaeological sites in Iraq. Near Eastern Archaeology, 78(3), 178-186.

Lesson 7

- Falser, M. 2011. The Bamiyan Buddhas, perfomative iconoclasm and the “Image of Heritage”, in A. Tomaszewski and S. Giometti (eds.), The Image of Heritage, Firenze, 157-169.

- Grodach, C. 2002. Reconstituting identity and history in post-war Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. City, 6(1), 61-82.

Lesson 8

- ICOMOS 2006-2007 Destruction of the Armenian Cemetery at Djulfa.

- SHRP 2010. High-Resolution Satellite Imagery and the Destruction of Cultural Artifacts in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan, AAAS.

- Lukunka B. 2007 Ethnocide Mass Violence & Résistance, http://bo-k2s.sciences-po.fr/mass-violence-war-massacre-resistance/en/document/ethnocide.

Lesson 9

- Shoup, D. 2006. Can Archaeology Build a Dam? Sites and Politics in Turkey’s Southeast Anatolia Project, Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 19, 231-258.

- Marchetti, N., Curci, A., Gatto, M.C., Nicolini, S., Mühl, S. and Zaina, F. 2019. A Multi-scalar Approach for Assessing the Impact of Dams on the Cultural Heritage in the Middle East and Northern Africa, Journal of Cultural Heritage, 17-28.

Lesson 10

- Reinmann, L. et al. 2018. Mediterranean UNESCO World Heritage at risk from coastal flooding and erosion due to sea-level rise, Nature Communications 9, 1-11.

- Bhagat, S., Samith Buddika, H. A. D., Kumar Adhikari, R., Shrestha, A., Bajracharya, S., Joshi, R., ... & Wijeyewickrema, A. C. (2018). Damage to cultural heritage structures and buildings due to the 2015 Nepal Gorkha earthquake. Journal of Earthquake Engineering, 22(10), 1861-1880.

Lesson 11

- Maner, C., Naji, A., Zaina, F. Heritage Buildings of Kufa:
Documenting and Preserving an Endangered Ancient Ottoman City. Poster presented at 12th ICAANE Bologna.


Recommended general texts and reference works that students may find useful to refer to throughout the course include:

Meskell, L. 1998. Archaeology under Fire: Nationalism, Politics and Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, London, Routledge. Biblioteca Walter Bigiavi BIBL. 930.1 ARCUF 1

Meskell, L. 2015 (ed.). Global Heritage. A Reader. Malden, Wiley. Biblioteca San Giovanni in Monte - Archeologia TUT 529

Renfrew, C. and Bahn, P. 2012. The Future of the Past. How to Manage the Heritage?, in C. Renfrew and P. Bahn 2012, Archaeology. Theories, Methods and Approaches. London, Thames and Hudson, 549-566. Biblioteca San Giovanni in Monte - Archeologia AG MET 7 A

Emberling, G. and Hanson, K. 2008. Catastrophe. The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past (OIMP 28). Chicago, University Press. Biblioteca San Giovanni in Monte - Archeologia AG OR 964

Soresen, L.S. and Carman, J. 2009 (eds.). Heritage Studies: Methods and Approaches, London, Routledge. Biblioteca San Giovanni in Monte - Archeologia TUT 530

Carman, J. 2005. Against Cultural Property: Archaeology, Heritage and Ownership. London: Duckworth. Biblioteca San Giovanni in Monte - Archeologia TUT 298

Teaching methods

Classes are considered as an integration of traditional frontal lecture method and active discussion method. The first part will provide an introduction to the key concepts and issues of the lecture. Documentaries or other types of videos will be used to illustrate one or more case studies or aiming to strengthen the concepts and issues previously introduced. In the second part of the class, a discussion on the articles read for the class and the concepts previously illustrated in the video will be done.

Assessment methods

Students assessment and the final mark will be based on:

Class participation. Participations to the debates during each class (10% of the final mark).

Research skills. Students will be requested to write a short essay (3000 words) on a topic discussed during the course (30% of the final mark).

Key-concepts. Students understanding and learning of the key-concepts introduced and discussed during the classes will be assessed through an oral exam (30% of the final mark).

Teamwork capabilities. Students will be requested to create small teamwork and to introduce, through a 25 min ppt presentation, and a short essay (2000 words) a case study of archaeological site/s damaged or destroyed including the drivers, the context and the type of destructive actions (30% of the final mark).

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

The final mark will be based on the four assessment. For the calss participatio the maximum is 3, for the research skills the maximum is 9, for the key-concept the maximum is 9, while for the teamwork capabilities the maximum is 9.

For non attending students the assessment method will be as follows:

Research skills. Students will be requested to write 2 short essays (3000 words) on two topics provided ini the handout on Virtuale webpage (50% of the final mark).

Key-concepts. Students' understanding and learning of the key-concepts introduced and discussed during the classes will be assessed through an oral exam (50% of the final mark).

Proper language and the ability to critically analyze relevant topics will lead to a good/excellent final grade.

Acceptable language and the ability to resume relevant topics will lead to a sufficient/fair grade.

Insufficient linguistic proficiency and fragmentary knowledge of relevant topics will lead to a failure in passing the exam.


Teaching tools

Frontal lessons will be supported by Prezi presentations including maps, images and videos.

During the Practical Activies (Lessons 13 and 14), students will be introduced to the use of Google Earth and other ope access software for the documentation of threats and damages to archaeological sites.

A pdf version of each Prezi presentation will be made available online for the students through the teaching material section.

Office hours

See the website of Federico Zaina