UNESCO organizes training course for conservation and restores of Libyan Artefacts

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8 Jul 2013

UNESCO organizes training course for conservation and restores of Libyan Artefacts

UNESCO has organized jointly with the Department of Antiquities of Libya and the "Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione e il Restauro – IsCR" a training courses in conservation of movable property in Libya 8 June – 4 July 2013.

The training, held in famous heritage sites Leptis Magna and Villa Silin, lasted 5 weeks and brought together 35 conservators and technicians from the Department of Antiquities' offices all across the country (Sabha, Sabratha, Tripoli, Leptis Magna, Benghazi and Shahat). Event programme addressed on site, in museum and storage collection management and conservation issues. It also focused on five priority areas: (i) exposed mosaics; (ii) wall paintings; (iii-iv) artefacts collections (bronzes, ceramics & glass) broken/damaged by warfare; (v) stone. The training course also contributed to launch the setting-up of a conservation laboratory, which will serve the various territorial offices of the Department of Antiquities of Libya.

During the training course some of the pieces of art from the collection of Bani Walid museum, damaged during the events which followed the 17th February Revolution, have been restored. In addition, selected frescos and mosaics from the archaeological site of Villa Silin, as well as three stone reliefs masterpieces from the Septimius Severus arch in Leptis Magna since years stored in the garden of the Leptis Museum were restored.

The closing session of the training held on 2 July 2013 was opened by H.E. Dr Al Amin El Habib, the Minister of Culture of Libya, H.E. Giuseppe Buccino Grimaldi, the Ambassador of Italy to Libya, Dr Abdelrahman Yakhlef, the Chairperson in charge of the Department of Antiquities of Libya, and Dr Lodovico Folin Calabi the Representative of UNESCO in Libya. Training methodology as well as the future steps for the conservation of moveable cultural property in Libya were presented and discussed.

For additional information, please contact:

UNESCO Project office in Libya
Chiara Dezzi Bardeschi,
UNESCO Senior consultant,
Coordinator of the programme
+218 (0)916 791 871

Department of Antiquities of Libya
Mr Taufik Nael
Manager of communication and international cooperation
+218 (0)914 410 1554
UNESCO Office in Cairo
Tamar Teneishvili

UNESCO programme specialist for Culture
+ 212 (02) 279 430 36 - 279 417 56


Introductory workshop on preventing and fighting illicit trafficking of cultural property Tripoli, Libya Museum, 27-30 April 2013

Cultural Heritage in Libya

Libya is the depository of a very rich and diverse cultural heritage with five sites inscribed on the World Heritage List (the archaeological sites of Leptis Magna, Sabratha and Cyrene, the rock-art sites of Tadrart Acacus and the Old Town of Ghadames), and numerous historical and traditional cities, archaeological sites (including underwater heritage), modern architecture masterpieces, museums and collections, cultural and research institutions, libraries and archives. Libya also has a rich intangible cultural heritage that reflects substantial cultural diversity and creativity.

In coincidence with the events which brought to the 17th February Revolution, accrue deterioration, destruction and looting at archaeological sites, as well as illicit trafficking of cultural property have been highlighted as major imminent threats.

On 9 August 2011, the Italian Carabinieri informed UNESCO of the disappearance of the Benghazi Treasure in Tripoli and issued several documents and inventories related to this theft.

Advocacy and assessments

The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, relentlessly advocated for the protection of Libyan cultural property, and for the prevention of illicit trafficking of cultural property. In August 2011 Ms Bokova alerted the Libyan authorities, as well as the civil society, the international community and the six Libyan neighbouring countries on the threats of illicit trafficking of cultural property. She also asked for increasing vigilance on attempts of import, transit and sales of such property. The Director-General also contacted INTERPOL, the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the World Custom Organization (WCO), and specialized national police corps such as Carabinieri (Italy) to strengthen action to this end.

Priority interventions and main lines of an emergency action plan have been identified through the international experts' meeting organized by UNESCO (Paris, 21 October 2011), through continuous consultations held with the Department of Antiquities of Libya, as well as building on the findings of experts missions (among which the Blue Shield / IMCuRWG Civil-Military Assessment Mission, September and November 2011). Most recently, UNESCO took part into the UNSMIL-interagency UN mission to the South of Libya (19-24 November 2012). UNESCO and the Department of Antiquities participated to the UN interagency missions to Zintan (13 April 2013) and to Ghadames and Derj Cities (23-24 April 2013).

A technical mission by UNESCO to the South was also conducted (4-8 May 2013), to assess the state of conservation of the UNESCO World Heritage property of the Tadrart Acacus site and to build-up a strategic plan to enforce the protection and management of this unique cultural and natural context.

Projects and way forward

Heritage documentation and management, sites' protection and conservation of moveable property have been identified by the Department of Antiquities as main priority areas for training.
Thanks to the support of the Libyan Government, UNESCO is working side by side with the Department of Antiquities to enhance security of sites, cultural heritage collections and museums. The project includes training in Museum collections' and Storage Conditions, with the aim to upgrade collections' conditions, for staff from different museums and sites from the country. It further includes the setting-up of conservation laboratories and the conservation of selected damaged and threatened monuments and historic buildings.

In parallel, thanks to the generous financial support of the Italian Government, the programme also aims at building national capacities, ranging from security forces to heritage professional, as well as raising awareness of communities for the protection and safeguarding of such diverse and rich heritage. Pilot projects are meant to target selected sites and museums, covering the various aspects of protection and enhancement (conservation, presentation, interpretation, communication strategy, etc.). It further includes ad hoc training for 150 former-combatants and youth seeking employment in the Culture sector.

The training course in conservation of moveable property (8 June-6 July 2013) carried out in Leptis Magna and Villa Silin is part of this broader capacity building programme, and marks the launch of other technical sessions at regional level (Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan).