July 22, 2006
The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) deplore the loss of innocent life in northern Israel and Lebanon and profoundly wish for a quick resolution of the armed hostilities in the area.
We also urge all parties to the conflict to honor the terms of the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and the principles of customary international law to protect the region’s rich archaeological, cultural and historic heritage. The Hague Convention calls on parties to armed conflict to avoid targeting of, and to minimize damage of, such cultural artifacts as monuments, sites and antiquities.
The region of the Levant, encompassing the modern states of Israel and Lebanon, is rich in cultural remains of many time periods, including occupation sites of early man, sites of the Biblical period, Phoenician, Hellenistic and Roman eras, and sites of the Crusader, Byzantine, Islamic and Ottoman Turkish periods. This region embodies much of the early history of the three great religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and contributed significantly to the development of the ancient cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean. Numerous sites in northern Israel and Lebanon have been inscribed on the World Heritage List and thus have been recognized for their contribution to human religious, historical and cultural values. Their preservation is an international priority. World Heritage sites include the Biblical sites of Megiddo and Hazor and the Crusader Old City of Acre in northern Israel. In Lebanon, the Roman cities of Baalbek and Tyre, the Phoenician site of Byblos and the Umayyad city of Anjar are also inscribed on the World Heritage List. These sites are all located within the area of military conflict and are therefore at great risk.
Both Israel and Lebanon are parties to the 1954 Hague Convention. While the AIA and ASOR realize that not all parties to this conflict are nation-states and therefore not parties to the Hague Convention, we nonetheless urge all parties to the conflict to work within the terms of the Hague Convention and customary international law to minimize damage and destruction of these cultural sites, which are of great value to all of humankind.
Eric Meyers, President, American Schools of Oriental Research
Jane C. Waldbaum, President, Archaeological Institute of America