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ICOM Report on Museums in Gaza - February 2009

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  • cejo@uchicago.edu
    February 2009 Museums in Gaza The Gaza Strip is an area full of relics of past Mediterranean cultures: Egyptian, Punic, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 3, 2009
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      "February 2009

      Museums in Gaza

      The Gaza Strip is an area full of relics of past Mediterranean cultures: Egyptian, Punic,
      Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic. Archaeological sites and museums are the region’s strong
      contribution to world heritage; three sites are listed as potential World Heritage Sites.

      For a long time no big museum in Gaza existed, but there are two recent museum projects. Both of
      them are based of the activities of a collector of archaeological heritage: Jawdat N. Khoudary. As
      owner of a big building contracting company in Gaza, he managed to combine his passion and his
      profession: When pulling down old buildings or preparing the basements for new ones, he took care
      that his workers gave attention to archaeological artefacts and would pass them to him in good
      conditions – and he was willing to accept the unavoidable delay in operation proceeding.

      Some years ago, the “Musées d’art et d’histoire” of the City of Geneva discovered the big potential
      and international value of this collection. They started the project of a big public “Gaza Museum of
      Archaeology”; it is sponsored by UNESCO and entrusted to a Board of Trustees by a Presidential
      Decree of 29 May 2006 and it receives scientific and technical support from the archaeological
      department of the Geneva Museum. This future museum is planned in Blakhiyah (North of Gaza City) on
      the site of the ancient seaport Anthédon (potential World Heritage site).

      In order to promote this project, Mr. Khoudary built and established – as a makeshift – his new
      private museum El Mat’haf (280 sq m, opened in August 2008 in Sudaniyah, in the vicinity of the
      future museum).

      At the beginning of the Gaza war, the Geneva Museum communicated the coordinates of the museum El
      Mat’haf and the collection depot of the future Gaza Archaeological Museum to the Israeli Prime
      Minister and to the Israeli Ministry of Defence. It was either the deliberate respect for cultural
      heritage or a great luck that the Israeli tanks stopped just 200 meters before the museum (and the
      nearby collection depot) – and heavy damage could be avoided.

      As the museum staff had been evacuated, nobody was injured. The conference hall of the museum was
      hit, but walls and roof stayed mainly intact. Windows and doors were smashed by side effects of
      shelling and some showcases have been broken as well. Twelve amphorae had been cracked.

      After the armistice, the repair of the building has immediately started. None of the amphorae were
      completely destroyed, all may be put together again; a skilled staff member is able to do it.

      At the site of the future Gaza Archaeological Museum project, the Roman masonry was partially
      damaged. The collections suffered no damage."

      http://icom.museum/disaster_relief/news.html

      See also:
      Blue Shield Statement : Cultural Heritage in Gaza damaged and in great danger
      http://www.ifla.org/VI/4/admin/icbs-gaza-statement18-02-2009.pdf

      -Chuck Jones-
      New York
    • Yitzhak Sapir
      ... An article about the Gaza museum dated August 2008, primarily an interview with Mr. Khoudary but also including comments from Trudy Dothan, is available
      Message 2 of 4 , Mar 3, 2009
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        On Tue, Mar 3, 2009 at 5:48 PM, Chuck Jones wrote:
        > "February 2009
        >
        > Museums in Gaza
        >
        > The Gaza Strip is an area full of relics of past Mediterranean cultures: Egyptian, Punic,
        > Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic. Archaeological sites and museums are the region’s strong
        > contribution to world heritage; three sites are listed as potential World Heritage Sites.
        ...
        > In order to promote this project, Mr. Khoudary built and established – as a makeshift – his new
        > private museum El Mat’haf (280 sq m, opened in August 2008 in Sudaniyah, in the vicinity of the
        > future museum).
        >
        > At the beginning of the Gaza war, the Geneva Museum communicated the coordinates of the museum El
        > Mat’haf and the collection depot of the future Gaza Archaeological Museum to the Israeli Prime
        > Minister and to the Israeli Ministry of Defence. It was either the deliberate respect for cultural
        > heritage or a great luck that the Israeli tanks stopped just 200 meters before the museum (and the
        > nearby collection depot) – and heavy damage could be avoided.

        An article about the Gaza museum dated August 2008, primarily an
        interview with Mr. Khoudary but also
        including comments from Trudy Dothan, is available here (Hebrew):

        http://www.nrg.co.il/online/5/ART1/778/968.html

        Yitzhak Sapir
      • Joe Zias
        Y. Sapir writes that It was either the deliberate respect for cultural ... From past personal experience it was the former that saved the museum. In the first
        Message 3 of 4 , Mar 3, 2009
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          Y. Sapir writes that 'It was either the deliberate respect for cultural
          > heritage or a great luck that the Israeli tanks stopped just 200 meters before the museum (and the
          > nearby collection depot) – and heavy damage could be avoided.'

          From past personal experience it was the former that saved the museum. In the first Lebanon war, Syrian soldiers broke into the national museum in Beirut and then fled leaving behind their fatigues, in which soldiers found quite a number of small objects which had been looted. Soldiers then handed them over to the IAA. Professor Gideon Furster and I contacted colleagues in Lebanon and returned all the looted materials to the gov't. This occurred during war time as we felt that it was in everyones interest that items such of this nature must be returned immed. so as to preserve the cultural heritage of the area and its citizens whom we unfortunately were at war with.

          Joe

          Joe Zias www.joezias.com
          Anthropology/Paleopathology

          Science and Antiquity Group - Jerusalem
          Jerusalem, Israel

          --- On Tue, 3/3/09, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir@...> wrote:
          From: Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir@...>
          Subject: Re: [ANE-2] ICOM Report on Museums in Gaza - February 2009
          To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
          Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2009, 2:57 PM

          On Tue, Mar 3, 2009 at 5:48 PM, Chuck Jones wrote:
          > "February 2009
          >
          > Museums in Gaza
          >
          > The Gaza Strip is an area full of relics of past Mediterranean cultures:
          Egyptian, Punic,
          > Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic. Archaeological sites and
          museums are the region’s strong
          > contribution to world heritage; three sites are listed as potential World
          Heritage Sites.
          ....
          > In order to promote this project, Mr. Khoudary built and established –
          as a makeshift – his new
          > private museum El Mat’haf (280 sq m, opened in August 2008 in Sudaniyah,
          in the vicinity of the
          > future museum).
          >
          > At the beginning of the Gaza war, the Geneva Museum communicated the
          coordinates of the museum El
          > Mat’haf and the collection depot of the future Gaza Archaeological
          Museum to the Israeli Prime
          > Minister and to the Israeli Ministry of Defence. It was either the
          deliberate respect for cultural
          > heritage or a great luck that the Israeli tanks stopped just 200 meters
          before the museum (and the
          > nearby collection depot) – and heavy damage could be avoided.

          An article about the Gaza museum dated August 2008, primarily an
          interview with Mr. Khoudary but also
          including comments from Trudy Dothan, is available here (Hebrew):

          http://www.nrg.co.il/online/5/ART1/778/968.html

          Yitzhak Sapir
        • Brian Yare
          My home city, Worcester, UK, is discussing twinning with Gaza. If anything comes of this then our museums will also twin . An interesting possibility Brian
          Message 4 of 4 , Mar 3, 2009
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            My home city, Worcester, UK, is discussing 'twinning' with Gaza. If anything comes of this then our museums will also 'twin'.

            An interesting possibility

            Brian Yare
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