International Conference to Focus on Libyan Heritage Sites Endangered by Current Conflict

1 July 2011

Dr. Serenella Ensoli, Project Director for GHF Cyrene, to Speak About Africa’s Largest Ancient Greek Site

Palo Alto, CA — Global Heritage Fund (GHF), an international conservancy devoted to saving endangered cultural heritage sites in developing countries, will be represented by Dr. Serenella Ensoli, Project Director for GHF Cyrene, and John Hurd, Director of International Conservation, at a conference focusing on Libyan heritage sites endangered by current conflict in the region.

The conference, to be held July 1-2 in Naples, will take place in two parts, with the first day devoted to archaeological missions in Libya and the second day to the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage. Dr. Ensoli, a professor at the Second University of Naples, will speak about Cyrene, where she has been working for 25 years, as well as moderate a discussion about possible interventions and future prospects for Libya’s heritage sites.

Cyrene, Africa’s largest ancient Greek site, has thus far been untouched by the current conflict in Libya, but conservation and tourism, which last year saw approximately 10,000 tourists visit the site from countries all over the world, have come to a halt. Security also remains an issue for the site, which was looted in 2001 and 2009. Cyrene is considered one of the most important Classical Greek sites outside of Greece, yet it is one of the most neglected and endangered UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Mediterranean Basin.

GHF has been working at Cyrene since 2005, leading a historic partnership between the Second University of Naples, the Libyan Department of Antiquities, and the Libyan Ministry of Culture. A program of master planning, scientific conservation, community development, training and new partnerships is being implemented to preserve Cyrene, which is located in one of Libya’s least developed provinces. This includes local workers learning conservation and restoration techniques from Italian engineers and archaeologists. GHF has thus far secured over $320,000 for master planning and engineering for the Sanctuary of Apollo amphitheater, and secured $500,000 in co-funding from in-country partners.

“We are grateful for the vision and support from GHF in our work to preserve Cyrene”, says Dr. Ensoli. “Private sector investment, technical and scientific assistances, and international partnerships are critical to our efforts to protect and successfully preserve Cyrene, one of Africa’s finest archaeological jewels.”

“We are pleased to participate in this extremely important conference about the state of Libya’s heritage sites,” said GHF Executive Director Jeff Morgan. “For too long, Cyrene and other Libyan sites have been ignored and left to deteriorate, or excavated with little regard for conservation. Now is an important time for the future of Libyan heritage—not only in terms of safeguarding against threats caused by the current conflict in the region, but because change may well be on the horizon, meaning greater opportunity for sustainable preservation of these global treasures.”