US: Washington-based Antiquities Coalition has created a ‘Culture Under Threat Map’ to track down monuments and cultural artifacts from across the world that are under threat of terror. Thus, the map is created to track instances of “cultural cleansing” by terrorist organizations operating in the Middle East and North Africa. The one-of-its-kind map shows which heritage sites are under threat, and which ones have already been destroyed and damaged. Complete as it is, the coalition map illustrates just a sliver of an incredibly huge problem.
The map plots 700 museums (in yellow) and other architecture (in blue) designated as UNESCO heritage sites. The little red bulls-eyes on the map show the location of sites that were damaged and destroyed. This is the architecture that ISIS and other violent groups have deliberately targeted since 2011, not collateral damage of the conflicts in the region. According to the coalition’s estimate, 230 sites have already been wiped out—including monuments from ancient, Greco-Roman, Islamic, and modern periods of architecture.
The map also shows hotspots where ISIS and other such groups have been particularly active, giving a sense of which sites in that vicinity might be under attack next.
“Our knowledge of this problem is incomplete and often presented on a case-by-case basis,” says Deborah Lehr, coalition chair and founder, via email. “We wanted to create a visual representation of the full sweep of the problem—one that showed not only the extent of cultural crimes but also its intensity.”
The heritage sites shown make up just a fraction of the 3-to-5 million important archeological sites in the region. “The ‘cradle of civilization’ is in imminent danger of destruction,” Lehr says.