Sunday, May 19, 2024


Today, the protection of cultural heritage from destruction is a moral and legal imperative that represents one of the priorities of the international community and the union towards which we are moving.

Author: Katerina Topallova

The world is not unknown to the various operations of destruction of material cultural wealth… In a wider context, taking the examples of countries where such destruction is remembered, all this is done with a single purpose and background – effective suppression and the demoralization of entire populations that live and identify with the material heritage and wealth, which in turn is the object of destruction, and most often it is the archaeological heritage. We recall the cases of the destruction of entire cities and monuments by the terrorist groups of ISIS in Syria, as well as the Taliban in Afghanistan, in order to establish their control over the population in these areas. And always the ideological background was awakened by the inevitable decorum in such destructive operations.

We witness even today that human brutality, every day, is destroying archaeological objects with ever greater intensity, thanks to urban development, agricultural activities, the construction of highways and roads, mass tourism and all this, without taking into account natural disasters, which are an addition. destruction factor. Therefore, the challenge and task of world archeology is great, at least where it can control and prevent such destruction, in order to protect and guarantee it for future generations.

This devastating state of cultural genocide seems unlikely to go away, judging by the frequent examples of destruction becoming more massive and shocking. The sad picture of Macedonian archaeology, did not emerge from all that gray background of institutional apathy that engulfed the country, with all its attributes. So, the inability of the first persons responsible for the protection of the cultural heritage comes to the surface… Unable and above all powerless to prevent the cultural erosion, which is happening in these moments, makes them complicit in this kind of criminal action knowingly, from contractors, various private companies and firms, which only patronize the state! The responsibility is twofold!

But what is it that shocked us so much this week? Due to coal mining in the oldest Neolithic locality in Macedonia – Vlaho near Živojno i Pellagonia, where its eastern and northern outskirts were damaged. Unfortunately, the damages in the Vllaho locality continue even today, while its eastern suburbs have been completely destroyed. Despite the instructions of the state institutions to ban the extraction of coal in this area, the excavators continued to dig in this important Neolithic settlement, which was also recognized by the prestigious archaeological journal Antiquity, whose publisher is the University of Cambridge.

These days, during construction activities on Skupi Street, during excavations for a five-story building, remains of the necropolis and plaques with valuable inscriptions were found, which were not treated properly, as well as some of the plaques and graves were damaged during excavations by the investor. Such an event caused more reactions from civil organizations and concerned individuals, while the relevant institutions remained uninterested in calls for the prevention of construction activities… If we read the reaction of the Conservation Center, we will have a clearer picture of the case?! So, the question arises, why is it allowed to build even close to the ancient city, instead of expanding the archaeological site itself and presenting the artefacts on site, which will increase the tourist offer of Skopje!? Regardless of whether it is a necropolis or a place where construction is allowed!?

And the latest news came to us from Spançeva, the municipality of Češinová-Obleševo, where the archaeological site known as Saint Athanasius, which is about 5000 years old, is endangered. Part of the site is fenced off and construction machinery has already damaged a significant part of the deposit, making way for the photovoltaic business. All this is followed by the vague statement of the director of the Institute and Museum – Shtip, who reminded us that the investors had permission to build on the archaeological site?!

What a cacophony! The battlefield has always been a scene of constant chaos…

The people of Skopje still won’t forgive the demolition of the “Sharri” hotel in the Old Bazaar of Skopje… Waiting for some modern kitsch to sprout in the middle of the original, to make us aware of the ugliness with which we are surrounded and live. However!

We know that throughout history, all types of cultural heritage have been affected by conflict, collateral damage and looting. But the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage is inexplicable… Such acts of “barbarism”, “cultural cleansing” should provoke a kind of declaration of heritage as a “new target of extremism” in the face of profit and dishonesty, because cultural heritage is not simply a resource to protect, it is a central element in the stories that society tells about itself – its origins, character, future projects, values ​​and aspirations. Today, the protection of cultural heritage from destruction is a moral and legal imperative that represents one of the priorities of the international community and the union towards which we are moving. Because if we want to preserve the culture, we have to keep improving and creating.

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