Lisa Mol and Paul Fox
The UK recently ratified the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The Convention places obligations on high contracting parties, not least their armed forces. The UK MoD has created a small unit of cultural property protection officers, all of whom are currently reservists with extensive professional civilian experience in the heritage sector, and all of whom require training in the civil-military application of the Convention’s obligations.
The first cultural property protection course run in the UK, certainly since 145, took place in October 2019 in the Portsmouth area. It broke new conceptual and practical ground and attracted considerable international attention. The training audience comprised 25 students from as far afield as Australia and the USA, all of them mid-career professions, mustering 13 PhDs between them. One training objective on a course predicated on experiential learning comprised the ability to work closely with civilian professionals in any related field, drawing them into initiatives to understand, plan, and react to cultural property protection challenges.
The Heritage in the Crossfire project contributed three training sessions:
Syndicate briefings during the preparatory stages
Briefing on material damage for all participants
Field exercise in the recognition and documentation of conflict damage on site (Royal Garrison Church, Portsmouth)
In June 2019 the Heritage in the Crossfire project participated in the Training in Action initiative set up by King's College London, Durham University and University College London. This project trains 40 Libyan and Tunisian heritage specialists in enhanced heritage conservation skills such as GIS, photogrammetry, collection management and documentation and damage prevention to historic sites. You can read their full objectives here.
Lisa Mol travelled to Mahres, Tunisia to train the participants in the use of damage assessment sheets and provide further briefing on both natural and conflict-driven stone deterioration. The training was delivered in the following formats:
A formal lecture on stone deterioration
A formal lecture on the effect of ballistics on stone surface
An in-field exercise using damage assessment sheets
The in field took place at Iunca, a Byzantine fortress situated on the Mediterranean coast. Lisa co-taught with with Dr Alaa El-Habashi (Professor of Architecture and Heritage Conservation, Monofia University, Egypt), linking together stone deterioration and structural stability.
All teaching materials are available on request, email the project lead for further details.