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Developing a Collaborative Strategy to Manage and Preserve Cultural Heritage During the Libyan Conflict. The Case of the Gebel Nāfusa

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An Erratum to this article was published on 06 September 2016


The paper discusses the potential of a collaborative scheme for the development of a protocol for recording and managing the cultural heritage in Libya. The critical political situation in the country urges the development of cultural heritage management policies in order to protect it more thoroughly and consistently. Moving on from the numerous international initiatives and projects dealing with a mostly “remote” approach to the issue, the project here presented to engages with staff members of the Department of Antiquities (DoA) in the development of a joint strategy for the application of remote sensing and geographical information systems (GIS) to the preservation and monitoring of Libyan cultural heritage. A series of training courses resulted in an initial development of new ways of recording and analysing field data for a better awareness of the full range of threats that the archaeology of the country is subject to. Focussing on the case of the Jebel Nafusa, the training involved the assessment of site visibility on satellite imagery, the analysis of high-resolution satellite datasets for archaeological mapping, the creation of a GIS spatial database of field data, and the mapping of risks and threats to archaeology from remote sensing data. This led to the creation of of a risk map showing the areas that are affected by a number of threats, thus giving the DoA a tool to prioritise future fieldwork to keep the assessment of site damage up to date. Only a collaborative approach can lead to a sustainable strategy for the protection of the invaluable cultural heritage of Libya.

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Support for the development of this project has been given by Prof. Susan Kane (Oberlin College) and the Ambassador Funds for Cultural Heritage. Gratitude is due to the Faculty of History, University of Sfax for their hospitality, facilities and support provided during the training courses. The training courses have been funded by Durham University and Deutsches Archäologisches Institut – Rome Department and the Society for Libyan Studies (London).

A great thanks is due to the two anonymous reviewers whose invaluable comments made it a better paper. The authors are the only responsible for any errors.

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Correspondence to Marco Nebbia.

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Nebbia, M., Leone, A., Bockmann, R. et al. Developing a Collaborative Strategy to Manage and Preserve Cultural Heritage During the Libyan Conflict. The Case of the Gebel Nāfusa. J Archaeol Method Theory 23, 971–988 (2016).

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