Recent images of the deliberate destruction of archaeology in Mosul Museum are very difficult for many of us to witness.
The 2700 year old Assyrian Winged Bull, like many of the other items destroyed, represent important components of the heritage of those who live in Mosul but are also part of a global heritage shared by us all. Images of sledge hammers and drills being used to deface and destroy such wonderful objects, are to my mind a crass form of behavior, which as intended, exerts a form of political power which I find deeply chilling.
In one sense, such behaviour, is no surprise. Archaeologically we readily see the rise and fall of civilizations, different ages and expressions over thousands of years, littered with a myriad toppled figures and headless statues, lie behind us.
Yet there is a contradiction, with where we currently find ourselves, in our age of austerity. Further cuts in public funding in the UK (and elsewhere in Europe) will only mean that aspects of our art, culture and heritage, which are recognised as important to the character and quality of peoples lives, will be lost or irreversibly damaged by neglect.
Choices are being made by politicians, which to many seem only to be looking after short term interests of social and economic systems which appear to have failed us. So if politicians and people want…
…vibrant, resilient communities, if we want a better more equitable society, then you cant keep cutting away at
what distinguishes us,
what gives us a sense of place and identity,
what contributes to health and well-being,
what makes the heart soar and soul dance :
you cant keep trimming away at arts, culture and heritage.
There are choices we make in relation to our values, they range along a continuum from deliberate purposeful intervention to passive indifference, but they all have a consequence. As a sector, as a society, we have to question what is worst for our heritage:
Active Destruction or Active Neglect ?
Drilling the Winged Bull
was overt destruction
but by neglect
can chip away
our Winged Bulls.
As I have said several times before in this blog, if we truly value art, culture and heritage as a society we have to protect, conserve, enhance, share and celebrate it : and this requires adequate and proportionate funding. Only by doing so can we ensure the things that matter are sustainably managed. For some people, they may only realise they matter when they are destroyed and gone. For some people, they may feel it doesnt matter at all, but will their childrens’ children wish we had looked after their heritage better?
Have we still learned nothing as a society about why understanding and sharing
For those of you who have not seen the images of destruction there is a news report from the BBC.
Apologies to any followers if this has been a bit too political but I suppose it all is really! In part it stems from genuine distress at seeing what is happening elsewhere in the world but it holds a mirror up to what we do.