Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Can a $50 Solution Save Archaeological Sites?

Archaeologist Lawrence Coben suggests creative solutions for preserving archaeological sites with little or no police protection. "You don't have to throw a lot of money," he says, outlining how a $50 gate for a monumental Inca site benefited both archaeologists and the local community.

While archaeological sites from China to Peru are being destroyed by looters in search of saleable antiquities, those charged with custodianship of the past are locked in fierce debate.

Archaeologists, leaders of cultural heritage organizations, and ministers of culture, dealers, collectors, curators, and museum directors cannot come to terms. Who is responsible for preserving cultural heritage? - CUNY

Lawrence Coben is an archaeologist affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, where he has received an M.A. and is completing a doctorate in Anthropology. He was most recently the director of Proyecto Inkallakta, a multidisciplinary project at the monumental Inka site of that name in Bolivia.

He has also conducted research and surveys in the Carabaya and Lake Titicaca regions of Peru. He co-edited Archaeology of Performance: Theater, Power and Community(2006), a seminal study of the nature and political implications of theatrical performance at public events in ancient societies.

He is also the author of several papers and articles on the Inka, the use of space, the role of performance and spectacle in ancient societies, the use of digital reconstruction and virtual reality in archaeology and the role of local museums in archaeological study and preservation.

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