Valuing and Preserving Palestine's Threatened Cultural Heritage
by Mazin Qumsiyeh - PalestineNature.org
November 26, 2018
Palestine’s rich human and natural history is due to geography and geology. That is why it is a key part of the Fertile Crescent where humans first developed agriculture. Traditional agriculture was sustainable as Palestinian ancestors (Canaanites) managed to cultivate an enormous variety of plants from wheat, barley, lentils, chickpeas, hawthorn, carobs, pistacia, and olives depending mostly on rainfall (Baal agriculture).
But they also developed terracing and irrigation systems that were amazingly resilient with some functioning terraces and dykes used for the past 5000 years.
Associated with all these were cultural heritage that is remarkable and unique.
The Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability and the Palestine Museum of Natural History at Bethlehem University (PalestineNature.org) in partnership with Masar Ibrahim is launching a project that focuses on innovative ways for the protection and preservation of specific forms of the Palestinian cultural heritage: those related to the natural history and agriculture of Palestine.
A Project Coordinator, and six researchers (two in northern, two in middle and two in southern West Bank) have started working hard to collect specific forms of cultural heritage including:
a) tangible assets like tools, implements, traditional bee hives, farming equipment, native seeds, farmer’s cloths, old books and ledgers, heirloom seeds of plant varieties, artistic objects made from plants and animal products among others; and
b) intangible assets like knowledge and practices connected to the land, stories, anecdotes, proverbs, and life practices relating to land, nature and agriculture.
Both tangible and intangible cultural heritage of this type is under threat (threats discussed below). We will research, educate about and also create a section in our nascent Palestine Museum of Natural History that will includes sociology of village life, and the traditional cultural expression (tangible and intangible heritage related to agriculture and nature).
This project is funded by the British Council and with strong support in the local population (including Ministry of Tourism). The population is struggling to protect this indispensable heritage due to the ongoing occupation activities such as removal from the land, increased refugee population, gentrification, and deterioration of the natural environment.
We welcome support; Time, money, in-kind donations (e.g. of old heritage items), ideas, books, old literature etc are ALL most welcome. firstname.lastname@example.org
Official launching ceremony and stakeholder meeting tomorrow, (Tuesday November 27th, 2018) in Bethlehem
[email us for details if you like to attend or help email@example.com]
Mazin Qumsiyeh and the team
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability