Cultural Preservation in Conflict Zones: Lessons from the Middle East and North Africa

The last decade has proven human’s capacity for cultural heritage destruction. Peter Herdrich, Co-founder of the Antiquities Coalition in the United States, and Abdelhamid Salah, the Chairman of the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation in Cairo, work on the ground with partners in the Middle East and North Africa to preserve and protect museum, library, and archival collections. During this session. they’ll discuss their work with the National Museum of Yemen, religious minority communities in Northern Iraq, and museum collections across North Africa. They’ll also provide a step-by-step guide to prioritizing work in the most challenging conflict environments. Track:Middle East/Africa


Unknown Speaker 12:02
Welcome everyone to cultural preservation in conflict zones lessons from the Middle East and North Africa. I'm Alice Ruben I'm a cultural heritage management and engagement consultant. Today in other sessions you're likely to hear about the plethora of resources for museum projects and oil rich Middle Eastern countries glamorous well funded starchitect designed with a bevy of international art and artifacts. Our present presentation is not meant to be a counterpoint narrative, it's not abundance versus deprivation all or nothing. But we're going to explore the nuanced reality for culturally rich countries when facing vast economic instability, political and social uncertainty, and a growing black market being used as a means to support violent extremists and ideology. Sorry, but violent extremist ideology. If we come away with one lesson from today know that it's the on the ground archivists curators heritage experts scholars clergy, engaged civil civilians and NGOs working in the Middle East or North Africa who are today's cultural heroes, both of our speakers practice involves working with museums and other cultural collections in very challenging environments, their experience is not theoretical but practical, focusing on successfully conceiving and executing projects, getting them funded, and most importantly, listening to local partners with custodial responsibility so that these cultures will continue to exist for millennia. I'm pleased to welcome Abdel Hamid Salah chairman of the Egyptian heritage rescue foundation and my colleague and dear friend Peter Herdrich, CEO of cultural capital and co founder of the anti antiquities coalition. There will be time for questions, so please listen closely and we'd love to hear from all of you, Peter. Please go ahead.

Unknown Speaker 14:13
Okay, Alice. Thank you very much. I'm going to share my screen, and we will get started. How's that look good. Great. Well hello everybody it's a pleasure to be here, Alice thank you for your very kind words. I don't call the hero very much, that's for sure. But it's nice to think that we are doing some good work and I believe we are. Thanks to you thanks to Eric Longo for inviting us of course thanks to Carolyn because we should always thank the people who are behind the scenes in producing these webinars for us. So thank you, Carolyn and and today also of course thank you to my colleague Abdelhamid Salah Sayed Al Sharif. We'll talk about our work in the Middle East in North Africa, and, and we'll focus a bit on museum work. I am the co founder of The Washington DC based antiquities Coalition. We are an NGO and we lead the fight against looting and illicit trafficking of antiquities that's really my background is I'm coming at this from that idea from the idea of cultural heritage preservation, and the fact that we're, We are in the last number of years losing, losing material losing collections losing items, and losing intangible material as well, and that we really have to do something about it. So, that's my, that's my background you see my. You also see my email there if you want to get ahold of me. All right, here's what we do we combat looting and illicit trafficking and cultural material as I said and we also do on the ground projects and digitization and collection security and access. Now, the reason we do this is for a couple of reasons. one we started out really is an advocacy organization, and you might remember I certainly do that, you know, when I started doing this about 1617 years ago, nobody really much knew what cultural heritage preservation meant. Nobody had thought about it much. But with the rise of Dinesh, and deprivations we've seen in the Middle East. In the last decade or so, people become much more aware of it, we had taken an approach to this to make a lot of noise about it to shout it from the rooftops that there was cultural material that was being destroyed, never to be replaced. Our shared cultural patrimony, but most importantly the patrimony of people who live in the region. So, we, we took the name antiquities Coalition for a very specific reason. It is a coalition, it's a coalition because this is a problem that is really difficult to master. There it's just complex, you know, we work with, diplomats, we work with. Archaeologists we work with museum people we work with teachers we work with the public. We work with civilians. We work with law enforcement, we work with customs agents we work with a vast, vast group of people, all of whom have specific skills around force specific purposes when it comes to cultural heritage preservation. So what we did was we decided to be the antiquities coalition because we bring all of us together among the people we bring together Alice Rubin, and of course my dear friend Abdelhamid who, who has worked on a number of projects with me in the region. Okay, so, uh, these are the his two examples of underground projects that we're doing there we are. That's Abdel Hamid and I, and in Cairo, at his facility they're working with a group of Yemeni colleagues on digitization work on the right, you'll see that's whoops, sorry. Let's go back to that that's Archbishop Najib McKay out of the Kelly and Catholic Church, who was doing some teaching for us with our friends at the Syriac Heritage Museum in northern Iraq. This has been my focus here at the antiquities Coalition for some time, is these on the ground projects that combat looting and encourage cultural heritage preservation, we often work on documentation and digitization of collection specifically as likely, you know, having digital records is of course a critical step in protecting them and sustaining any collection, especially in areas prone to conflict. In fact, it's so important the UN as enshrined in international heritage policy. You know if you know this, but UN Security Council resolution 2347 which was passed in March of 2017 sets forth a number of well considered steps for Cultural Heritage Preservation, particularly in the fight against looting. It proposes digitized documentation digitized documentation is a first step for member states to take and I'm going to quote the actual

Unknown Speaker 18:54
resolution for as article 17 what they propose is introducing or improving cultural heritage and properties local and national inventory lists, including through digital. Digital is digitalized information. When possible, and making them easily accessible to relevant authorities and agencies as appropriate. Well implementing this UN endorsed international heritage policy is what we do. We're providing these on the ground solutions that directly support the efforts of UN member states and affiliate organizations by working with collections across the MENA region to create inventories to digitize materials and collections and and make them accessible through local and international platforms. This preserves and protects collections makes it accessible and fights cultural racketeering and violent extremism. So if you're interested in a resource about this. This is one that we produced had the antiquities coalition, again, there's my email address if you'd like a copy of it I'd be happy to send it along for you for your use. It's our infographic and talks about how databases combat looting. We'll leave that up just for a second longer just to say, please don't hesitate to get in touch. We'd love to talk to anybody about this subject, it's, we're big enthusiasts. Alright so here I want to look quickly at some of the projects that we have undertaken across the MENA region this is the wonderful team at the Kurdish Heritage Institute, which is in Slovenia in northern Iraq. That is my project co director on a demo run in the middle, and our digitization team there you can see a big and fancy scanner that we use to digitize those books on the shelves in the back. They have a great collection of heritage materials that I probably the leading collection in the Kurdish language in the Kurdish language in the Kermani and Serani Kurdish languages. And those books now are circulating as part of the first active and functional. Digital Library in Iraq. So we did the digitization. Well, we did it we trained our local, our local team, they did the digitization they did the data management, got together the records. We use no Mecca to get this online on their website and now for Curtis speakers especially they can go on line to access these books. You know it's particularly popular in the diaspora, the, the positive results of this are really kind of surprising, they, they resonate out and so people in the diaspora can access this material which they couldn't otherwise get in hand, in, in northern Iraq right now, COVID is ramping so we know that it's hard to get there for people who want to go visit so. So this idea of making it accessible really is a critical question. Also I should say that our funder on that was the United States Embassy in Baghdad who generously provided us provided us with that money for that. So now I want to just ask you a question before we go along and I can't see everybody of course but just, well you don't have to have a, we don't have to have a show of hands on this because I guess we can't see each other, but I'm going to guess that it is probably likely that MANY of you work in libraries or I'm sorry museums that have digital records that have collections management systems that you can access from your desk, that the public can possibly access from outside, that you can use. And I, if I were able to I'm going to guess I would see some people going like this and nodding because that is pretty much the standard in North America and Europe and, you know, sort of a global North if you will. But don't be tempted to think that that is the standard around the world. And that is one of the things I think that Abdelhamid and I have both discovered I certainly discovered it I wasn't quite so aware of this when I started working in the Middle East and it was really a revelation and as Allah says it's this is not a counter narratives to, you know, wealthy museums that that have access to resources, but this is rather just a look at how we can take advantage and how we can create the advantage that we can create. By doing this, what I think of as digital infrastructure work, the work that, that, that makes sure we have information that, and that makes sure that we have photos in case there is ever trouble or even crisis. This is important to think about and I want to tell you just a little story quickly. It's, I was working with a museum in East Jerusalem, and they have a terrific collection of Palestinian textiles mostly, mostly costumes

Unknown Speaker 23:31
embroidered elaborately, you know, from the 19th and 20th century, and they were really interested when, when we first started to them they were very interested in the idea of creating access to this collection, they wanted to show this collection off to the world, they really believe in its value, and, and it shows off the Palestinian culture in a way that is pretty unique. So what we did was, was working with, as we do all the time we work very closely with our local partners, it's really something that we, we believe is important that we need to stick with talking with their museum director I said, Well, look, here's what we could do we can do some training, we can set up a digital environment for you, you can learn to get this material online, it'll support your website, and this is the way we'll get will make your, your, your collection globally accessible. And he said Well, Peter, that's great, but you have to consider this, I run a museum and we have two and a half full time employees me. We have the guard, and we have a curator halftime. So, we would love to do this, but we don't have, we just don't have anywhere near the resources to be able to do it, we don't have the people and, you know, something like this would would conceivably overwhelm us. And I tell this story, really just to illustrate a point that I think is important, which is that resources can be scarce, and you know you want to do the best thing everybody knows it's best practice to have digitized records and photographs, that's there's no argument about that and everybody wants it, but it can't always happen sometimes because of resources, that's one of the reasons why for us, we, we do a lot of fundraising to we work with local partners and we raise the funds to make a lot of these projects possible, because, you know, we just, we need to do that and we do believe in the value of this digital infrastructure. Okay, so I want to talk a little bit about some of the lessons we've learned, and then we'll talk a little bit more about some of the other museums we've worked in and then I'll turn it over to Abdelhamid who will tell us a bit of work, who communicate about a case study that we have to talk about in the region tip. So, this is these are the these are the things that we have prioritized, we focus in conflict areas because of, you know it's in conflict areas where we have the most risk, you know it's it's it's an areas that that suffer, either from, from, from war, or from now from climate change from the possibilities of even things like damage to fires that we want to focus on because it is there where we could lose cultural heritage material so that's what we do we try to focus in those areas, it makes it more difficult in MANY instances, but the rewards are also tremendous. We also always invariably we support local leadership, we try to remember a couple of important things. It's the custodial. It's a collection of custodians who are doing the work, we, we can offer expertise, we can offer insight and we can offer you know lots of services in planning and in cases we offer funding as well. So we want to do that but we also want to remain, we'll come up to back to this we want to remain humble about this and realize that this is not, we're dealing with, with cultural material that is not ours. It's not as familiar to us, as it is, obviously, to the local leadership to the people who work at the, at these collections, so we always ensure that decisions especially strategic decisions are made locally, that's, that's a really important consideration and it's one, I think that when we talk about that it's well respected to people realize that we're not coming in with an outside agenda, I mean as much as we can right. So, one of the things we often do is we we do training and resource provision as I say, we train in digitization, we train in photography, we train in Data Management we train in internet related issues. And that is one of the things that is we think is has value too because those skills can go on to other projects we do the fundraising as I, as I mentioned and we try to at all times. Remember that, that we know a lot and our ignorance. Probably equals, what we know at the same time.

Unknown Speaker 27:58
Okay, so I want to talk about a couple of digital digitization projects that we do. We're working right now in northern, this is the antiquities folks, we're working now in northern Iraq with a number of partners. We have support for this grant from the United States Agency for International Development, we thank them very much for that. And really for the generosity, this comes from American taxpayer money so it's important to always say thank you. And that's what we do, particularly our friends and, and colleagues over at the US, USA ID. What we're focused on is religious minorities there. That's, that's, Archbishop Najim there with one of the, you know, one of the manuscripts in his collection you can see how stunning that is another place we work is we work at the Syriac Heritage Museum I'm going to try to focus on the museum side of this a little bit here, the Syriac Heritage Museum is an ethnographic museum focused on the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac community it's a Christian community in northern Iraq, there's, you know, various estimates of how big it is 300,000 Maybe, there, there have there in what's called the Nineveh plain, just north of LBL but they, they spread throughout that region, it's much, much of it's in Kurdistan but there's, there's also populations in Iraq as well. I want to say about them just to make sure you know that what we're doing with them is we're creating a digitization lab to help them, and we're helping them with their preconception of their permanent exhibit, which includes video presentations, they're, they're bringing their museum forward in terms of their technical technological capacities what they're doing. So, uh, we also want to say that, that involves training where we have a staff that we've hired, we've hired nine people there are nine full timers in their museum who were paying with our, our grant money. Next organization we work with is this ultra numeric this menu speak ominto which is the, the Center for the digitization of Eastern manuscripts that is Archbishop Najib he's the Archbishop of the Kaldi and Catholic Church in northern Iraq, if you happen to have seen the video of the Pope, on his first visit to Iraq, when he walked off the when he went down the gangway to first set foot in Iraq, it was Archbishop Najib who was walking up the gangway to shake hands with him. He really is this man is a hero of cultural heritage preservation, without question, he was the person who was able to get his manuscript collection from Moses across the border into Kurdistan, literally 15 minutes ahead of of the so called Islamic State as they followed him with in an attempt to stop him. He really is a great man nominee nominee for the Sacher of Christ, intellectual freedom from the EU last year. And what we're doing with them is they know very well how to digitize manuscripts they've been working at it for 30 years. So what we're doing is we're passing money on to that we have no, we don't have any particular.

Unknown Speaker 31:08
We're not much to teach them or much to help with they have a perfectly wonderful operation set up already. If you want to see it, incidentally, you can go to the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library website there. That's where they, that's where they store and display and make accessible all their manuscripts which really are tremendous. Okay, moving this right along I realize I'm running long here. The last group we work with is yes, this is a US Ed group us Ed social service group. I want to speak just a second about the Yazidi population in northern Iraq as you, I'm sure all know these CDs, suffered as badly as probably any organ, any, any group around the world in the last number of years, when they were genocidal attacked by the Islamic State, where people were murdered in their homes and hometowns where women were sold into slavery, where children were. Well, let's just leave it at that and just to say that these ETs are have understood. A lesson it's, it's a lesson I think it's, it's valuable, repeating which is that you obviously you have to do what you can to, to protect and preserve your cultural heritage, but these Ed heritage is mostly oral, it's not they don't have a say like, Archbishop Najib has a whole collection of manuscripts these ETS don't they have their religion is passed down orally, they are, it's based on on something called kettlebells which are religious teachings that are learned from one generation to the next. So we're working with them on an attend on a video on video documentation of intangible cultural heritage. That's what we're working with them. These are young filmmakers who were, who had been training, I've been training in cooperation with a great group from Morocco, who specializes in tangible cultural heritage. I will say that Abdelhamid has been a great consultant on that as well. Okay. The other work we're doing is with the Ministry of Culture in Algeria where we're where we're working on a couple of important things a digitization, really a digitization survey for the, for the ministry, they want to they want to get a more comprehensive approach to their approach to their digitized documented materials. We're also we also work on legal updating legal language to bring to bring laws in the country into alignment with other contemporary with contemporary best practice I guess I should say. And we also work on a photo guide with them for their for their police and for their customs people so they can help to identify items that might be in the illicit trade from Algeria. That brings me to our case study. We Abdel Hamid and I are involved in a project at the National Museum in Aden, in Yemen. It's an it's an emergency intervention that we're doing funded by the elite foundation in Switzerland. They've given us some money to, to get to the museum and the museum it's, this is, you know, as I say this is not theoretical stuff that museum has been looted already in the civil war there. Don't forget that. At the same time, the situation in Yemen related to the civil war now related to COVID as well, is called the worst humanitarian, the UN has called it the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. It is a challenging place to work, we're working there together. And at this point I'm going to turn it over to you Abdel Hamid, as the person who is really, who's really been behind the, the implementation of our work over there. So over to you.

Unknown Speaker 35:00
Thank you, thank you so much the better. Thank you, as I like to share my screen if you allow me, please. And while I'm sharing my screen I would like to have a good connection because I'm doing this outside of my office and hopefully that my voice is clear. Does it clear, better my voice. Yes, great. I'm sorry I'm so happy to, to join this wonderful workshop and this wonderful conference about Museum and work related to Museum and version, and I'm so happy to be a part of this team so presenting to you now with my colleague Alice and my dear friend, Peter, actually, is traveling when I was preparing this small PowerPoint about our intervention, emergency intervention in other museum. I call it project, but just just I was telling this to beat the discus was beaten like like 30 minutes ago that we receive another voice message from our partners and Mr. Mohammed, who is the same time, the director of the museum and asking us to be patient until he can get security approvals, and try to open the storage so we can continue our work. And from this moment I decided not to call it a profit but actually a call your story. A story that connects people from east to west. Connect valuable that without any more care about what is happening there and what is the conflict there it's people just wanting to keep protect cultural heritage. And as just Peter said that demon in a very very worse condition and people are really suffering there. So you can imagine their cultural heritage how much they are suffering there. This story it's connecting between pizza which is presented to us in our project as well as STEM and alley foundations are coming from north of Europe. We're also trying to protect cultural heritage in Yemen, and our team, which is here in Egypt Egyptian has rescue team and of course, the team on ground in Yemen that represents the governmental authority as well as volunteers there actually was taught on project in the beginning to bring those people from Yemen here who are going to do the work that are going to be responsible for the work to give them a training how to do digitalization how to connect their artifacts in a proper way and how we can secure additional COBie actually, because these people are suffering, not just because of conflict, but also because of secondary hazards, related to conflict which is looting in a very large scale. As you see here between me and my colleagues are trying to focus with them working with them day and night, telling them how to do, even to lose this limitation to do the photo documentation and not using a very advanced technology actually but no with tools that we can have with mobile phone, and we're bringing them some people adopted knowledge how to use mobile phone to document this and thanks to also, our partner tropic company which is applied to big software application for mobiles that really helped a lot us in order to do this kind of recommendation using very very simple and very easy stuff it's just only mobile camera. And we have some some situation, and tell them how they can assess risk is how they can assess the building, how they can assess this condition, if they can realize risk or not have when they can intervene when they cannot intervene using some examples here in Asia, while we were trainings and as you see this photo in the right hand. You see, before it was being forced to talk in the day and now it's difficult to talk in tonight, because it was a very limited time and emergency situations where we were working within the internet in order to deliver as much knowledge as we can so that people can apply, and in the left for to Peter, Peter and my team are with authority of the airmen who are responsible for this. Actually, because of situations that it's day after day accelerated there lot of risks are these people are so exposed to this kind of freshness, so we couldn't open the storage due to MANY reasons, actually, because it's rooted before and government need to be for all of these things,

Unknown Speaker 39:39
and every week, we got a news from our colleague in Yemen from our government that hoses and this Army, Army are very close to the location of other museum, but we cannot do anything there. Okay, we couldn't help these people. But when we talk together so we talked with Peter we talk with the m&e group and then we decided that it is good at least, to save a save COVID from their inventory. Why, because they only have one copy and one copy on leave with this condition that you see in the photos here, it's handwritten, and in MANY pages, hundreds of riches and very very bad condition as you see here and it's very fragile, to any kind of damage. And if this inventory. If this resistor is lost, it means that we don't have any kind of data that can help us to prove that this artifact was exist in Germany, and it's saluted after the conflict so we will not have any evidence to bring it back. If it's shown next year, next month in auction house we can't, we can't because we don't have an evidence of this subpoena see about that we were patient we are. These people are sitting between guns between Paul DAM MCN, but actually they have suffering from from long years, four or five months until they're in order to save all the way through, so we write all this time. Prepare to store it on an digital database just for the museum. And actually we could see if you would go back to this pain. You see, the resistor, the 40 small tick it was very very low and better than the only photos we have decoded in terms of storage at work and trade in order to have this okay and extracted from the inventory so we can use it, then develop the database for Arabic, but it's been all the fields that can present and reflect, we have so we can secure it in at least seven days here in Egypt with different mentoring and revelation, aviation, aviation, so we just need to register, relevant, and transfer it to a database, it will not debate was asked later does not belong to the version of AMA. We also scan for photo of each page of the register on that. So people can come back, so nobody can get with us, if we found a lot of looted artifacts in any other place in any actual auction house. No sir, this blow their money. This museum because how we connect and read the data together with a very basic steps here in Egypt will be big until we have the database. But each time we ask Amy, we ask them to send them acid data, any kind of mentation, these people are very hard. So we adopt a methodology for risk to them in order to teach them how decision. So that's a big decision, they can make the right decision to avoid MANY risks so this is a methodology to deliver to them day by day, that work. The theme of this. Then, we don't have we rethinking money moment they're posting day by day, just big, huge guys getting your work done, but actually young people carrying you. So, When I had an operation it really to understand their history, and they cannot understand the history. Don't conserve the tourism. And remember this sort of very well, why do you think about Adam and Robin think leagues and and consider their heritage. Back to you, Alice again

Unknown Speaker 44:45
Abdelhamid thanks to you know it's it's an amazing task that's happened Abdelhamid has has managed to do an inventory without ever actually seeing any of the items. The, the, the items have been locked up for years. They're there behind sealed steel doors for security sake, so we really want to get in there and take photos and and compare those photos to these content with the the historical photos, and we can't because we can't get in. But it was extremely clever I thought for Abdelhamid to come up with a way to use those old registers that we have to at least get started with, with an idea of what exactly we have and, you know, in some day we, we trust that the security will will ease, and we'll be able to get in. One last thought about that and then I'd love to ask your questions, and that is this when we were there when I was there in Cairo and when we all got together with our Yemeni friends. I did ask one question and it's a question I try to ask on all these projects which is this, you know, look, we, we could be doing other things we could, we could be working on providing clean water or we could be working on healthcare or we could be working on food, supplying that, but we don't we work on cultural heritage preservation How do you feel about that is that something that you're comfortable with, and I can say that I asked that question on every one of these projects and we always get the same answer and that is this, please keep up this work. This work is terribly important. It's the kind of work that other people are not doing, we have helped with some of these other things. But we also recognize the value of this cultural heritage. It tells the story of who we are, it means something to us, and it represents us to the world. And those, those feelings are, I would say, a blanket, all the collections that I've ever worked with the commandment of local allies you said heroes, here's, here's the heroes, those, those gentlemen from Yemen, they're heroes. They work in a, in an environment where there is no COVID protection. They work in an environment where there are roadside bombs where we had to stop we were about to we thought we were about to finally get into to the, to the museum collection, and we couldn't because the security situation deteriorated after, after a bombing in the city. So, we realized that there's, there's, there are people who are committed and they're people who feel like we do, that this cultural heritage material is incredibly important that it means something it means something to us as well, that it's one of the things that you know that that connects us to other people around the world and that we have to do what we can to to help, to help preserve and protect. So with that I, you know, Alice. Do you want to open it up to questions. Back to you.

Unknown Speaker 47:34
Yeah, I'd love to. Please, if there any questions put it in the chat and let me know. You know, I've a quick question to both of you. You know given today, you know, deep fake and fake news and misappropriating imagery, how do we keep safe. The documentation and verify it so that we know that we're seeing the actual work itself.

Unknown Speaker 48:12
You want to take that one

Unknown Speaker 48:14
actually has a connection internet, I use most of the questions, so if you can get it all if you execute, you can repeat it, yours will be tricky if you can get it please. Sure, we try to find another

Unknown Speaker 48:27
area where, what we do, we are very concerned with that we Abdel Hamid mentioned an app we use it's called True pick it's a, it's an authentification app that is used to make sure that the photos that you take are actually authenticated it's done through a sort of a very, very advanced technological thing that I don't really understand to be perfectly honest, but what it does is it sends the photos that we take in Yemen directly to the blockchain, so that we can know that those can't be changed can't be fooled with. We also have to think about digital preservation I know there was a, you know, there was I think there was a discussion that yesterday as well, about making sure that we create and this is when it comes to resources, this is one of our challenges right, we know that we want. You know, we know that we, we want to create inventories and create opportunities for sharing of, of, records for record accessibility. But we also know that over time that's going to be an expense and we have to think about that, for instance when we budget we have to think about that it's not, we're in for two years and we're out we're if we're in for two years and we help build infrastructure, we have to we have to plan for long, longer term as well.

Unknown Speaker 49:45
Right, what are, what is the first step. Any country needs to do, if they know that they have a collection of whether it's tangible intangible heritage that needs documenting what would you suggest

Unknown Speaker 50:03
for me, for me to have Hello, are artifacts, but collection, mobile, it's an evidence of the history of history. If we don't have this evidence we can talk a lot of firsts for history we can debate about history, we can change the history but with evidence. We cannot change the history you cannot change that civilization of any people. So you need to keep this evidence and in a situation in a global that suffering from a lot of hazards, a lot of risk and a lot of conflict and a lot of financial financial resources. So, we need to keep a document about this heritage, we need to start with a basic inventory system, we need to start with it, we don't. This kind of thing is maybe cost you a lot of money but if you'd like really to do it we can cost you a very little, if you just analyze analyze what you have. Find a server tools that it's available and then you can create a documentation, and create a data center is not a huge one, not a fancy one, but this was a very, very limited resources for doing any liquor and to keep this evidence

Unknown Speaker 51:23
is a big one for big one for infrastructure too I think that, that it's really important and it's something that we can concentrate on and do it for do it for a reasonable for a reasonable amount of money to always it's always important to consider. Yeah, one,

Unknown Speaker 51:35
one thing before we wrap up, since our time is we have only a couple more minutes. Given that, technology changes. What are your organization's doing to ensure that the digitization you're doing now is protected for later.

Unknown Speaker 51:56
Well, you know, there's, there's some things that you always do write lots of copies keep stuff safe right make lots of copies have repositories, try to work with one of the things we often do is we'll like I've worked on a, sorry, I worked on a project, the Digital Library, the Middle East, which is an organization which federates collections and which offers you know which offers repository services so we try to think about that and then it's that other question of as I said, digital preservation we have to think about that in the long term, I think those are, those are the answers Abdelhamid.

Unknown Speaker 52:32
I totally agree with you. You Peter and I can say more about what you say but actually see, I see it in, In a way that, yes, for human as we sent to give before and would like to add that it's too important, but actually the history is so important. And we have a concept that cultural heritage cannot wait. And this, this, this slogan start with a crumb, in Italy in Rome. And yes, people are important. Also their heritage, are so important. So, they have a value, this has a value and this has another value, nothing to compare between this and this, we have to keep both safe and sound.

Unknown Speaker 53:25
Yeah, absolutely. Well I, you know, I, before this conference before the session I was talking to Peter and I said how can we work in the phrase. You know, the center of civilization or the, what's the cradle of civilization, you know, which we all learn about when we're doing World Studies, I mean let's, let's remember, this area is the cradle of civilization and much of the work that we do in the Western canon comes actually directly from the existence of these countries and the culture and the heritage that they built, and it is worth preserving as much as any culture, and just this is incredibly important work and I want to thank both of you, Peter and Abdel Hameed for all the work you're doing the antiquities coalition the Egyptian heritage rescue, and MANY of your funders USAID, and please anyone please get in touch with either myself or Peter Abdel Hamid, we'd love to talk to you. Go ahead, Peter,

Unknown Speaker 54:36
I was gonna just I just wanted to finish with that saying Hey, folks, if you know any collections or if you have an idea of projects that would be of interest to us, we'd love to hear, as I say we're willing to fundraise and go out and look for that also, if you're institutional, if your institutions are interested in, in collaborating or in working with an institution or an organization in the region, that's another great way to get involved in all this, you know, you get a great sense of, you get a, you get a great feeling, out of all this you get the feeling that this is something that we can do in response to the loss of the heritage that we all are committed to that we all are, you know, dedicating our lives to this is something that we can do to really make a difference. So we encourage you to please reach out, don't hesitate,

Unknown Speaker 55:24
thank you and also just lastly, remember that well, we focus today on the Middle East, North Africa This work is going on around the world, and the antiquities coalition is focused on helping you know any community at this time. Thank you, everyone, and hopefully we'll hear from you soon. Thank you.