Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that is inherited from past generations.
Cultural heritage includes tangible culture (such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artifacts), intangible culture (such as folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge), and natural heritage (including culturally significant landscapes, and biodiversity).
The deliberate act of keeping cultural heritage from the present for the future is known as preservation (American English) or conservation (British English), which cultural and historical ethnic museums and cultural centers promote, though these terms may have more specific or technical meaning in the same contexts in the other dialect.
Objects are a part of the study of human history because they provide a concrete basis for ideas, and can validate them. Their preservation demonstrates a recognition of the necessity of the past and of the things that tell its story. In The Past is a Foreign Country, David Lowenthal observes that preserved objects also validate memories. While digital acquisition techniques can provide a technological solution that is able to acquire the shape and the appearance of artifacts with an unprecedented precision in human history, the actuality of the object, as opposed to a reproduction, draws people in and gives them a literal way of touching the past. This unfortunately poses a danger as places and things are damaged by the hands of tourists, the light required to display them, and other risks of making an object known and available. The reality of this risk reinforces the fact that all artifacts are in a constant state of chemical transformation, so that what is considered to be preserved is actually changing – it is never as it once was. Similarly changing is the value each generation may place on the past and on the artifacts that link it to the past.
Classical civilizations, and especially the Indian, have attributed supreme importance to the preservation of tradition. Its central idea was that social institutions, scientific knowledge and technological applications need to use a "heritage" as a "resource". Using contemporary language, we could say that ancient Indians considered, as social resources, both economic assets (like natural resources and their exploitation structure) and factors promoting social integration (like institutions for the preservation of knowledge and for the maintenance of civil order). Ethics considered that what had been inherited should not be consumed, but should be handed over, possibly enriched, to successive generations. This was a moral imperative for all, except in the final life stage of sannyasa.
What one generation considers "cultural heritage" may be rejected by the next generation, only to be revived by a subsequent generation.
Cultural property includes the physical, or "tangible" cultural heritage, such as artworks. These are generally split into two groups of movable and immovable heritage. Immovable heritage includes building so (which themselves may include installed art such as organs, stained glass windows, and frescos), large industrial installations or other historic places and monuments. Moveable heritage includes books, documents, moveable artworks, machines, clothing, and other artifacts, that are considered worthy of preservation for the future. These include objects significant to the archaeology, architecture, science or technology of a specified culture.
Aspects and disciplines of the preservation and conservation of tangible culture include:
"Intangible cultural heritage" consists of non-physical aspects of a particular culture, more often maintained by social customs during a specific period in history. The concept includes the ways and means of behavior in a society, and the often formal rules for operating in a particular cultural climate. These include social values and traditions, customs and practices, aesthetic and spiritual beliefs, artistic expression, language and other aspects of human activity. The significance of physical artifacts can be interpreted as an act against the backdrop of socioeconomic, political, ethnic, religious and philosophical values of a particular group of people. Naturally, intangible cultural heritage is more difficult to preserve than physical objects.
Aspects of the preservation and conservation of cultural intangibles include:
"Natural heritage" is also an important part of a society's heritage, encompassing the countryside and natural environment, including flora and fauna, scientifically known as biodiversity, as well as geological elements (including mineralogical, geomorphological, paleontological, etc.), scientifically known as geodiversity. These kind of heritage sites often serve as an important component in a country's tourist industry, attracting many visitors from abroad as well as locally. Heritage can also include cultural landscapes (natural features that may have cultural attributes).
Aspects of the preservation and conservation of natural heritage include:
Significant was the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage that was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972. As of 2011, there are 936 World Heritage Sites: 725 cultural, 183 natural, and 28 mixed properties, in 153 countries. Each of these sites is considered important to the international community.
The underwater cultural heritage is protected by the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. This convention is a legal instrument helping states parties to improve the protection of their underwater cultural heritage.
In addition, UNESCO has begun designating masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights sitting as part of the United Nations Economic and Social Council with article 15 of its Covenant had sought to instill the principles under which cultural heritage is protected as part of a basic human right.
Key international documents and bodies include:
Much of heritage preservation work is done at the national, regional, or local levels of society. Various national and regional regimes include:
Broad philosophical, technical, and political issues and dimensions of cultural heritage include:
Issues in cultural heritage management include:
Digital methods in preservation
Conservation may refer to the preservation or efficient use of resources (in an efficient or ethical manner), or the conservation of various quantities under physical laws.
Conservation may refer more specifically to:
Conservation (ethic) of biodiversity, environment, and natural resources, including protection and management
Conservation-restoration of cultural heritage, protection and restoration of cultural heritage, including works of art and architecture, as well as archaeological and historical artifactsConservation-restoration of cultural heritage
The conservation-restoration of cultural heritage focuses on protection and care of tangible cultural heritage, including artworks, architecture, archaeology, and museum collections. Conservation activities include preventive conservation, examination, documentation, research, treatment, and education. This field is closely allied with conservation science, curators and registrars.Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran
Iran Cultural Heritage, Handcraft and Tourism Organization (Persian: سازمان میراث فرهنگی، صنایع دستی و گردشگری ایران) is an educational and research institution overseeing numerous associated museum complexes throughout Iran. It is administered and funded by the Government of Iran.
It was established in 1985 by legislation from the Majlis merging 11 research and cultural organizations. The current head of organization is Ali Asghar Monesan, being appointed 13 August 2017 by President Hassan Rouhani. He was formerly head of Kish Island Free Area.
It publishes and oversees the publication of many journals and books, and carries out projects in conjunction with foreign museums and academia. It is similar in scope and activity to the Smithsonian Institution.Cultural Heritage of Serbia
Cultural heritage of Serbia (Serbian: Културна добра Србије / Kulturna dobra Srbije; lit. "Cultural Goods of Serbia") represents the totality of national cultural heritage in Serbia (including Kosovo) as defined by Serbia's Law on Cultural Goods. Some of national heritage sites in Serbia are also World Heritage Sites.Cultural genocide
Cultural genocide or cultural cleansing is a concept that lawyer Raphael Lemkin distinguished in 1944 as a component of genocide. The term was considered in the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and juxtaposed next to the term "ethnocide", but it was removed in the final document, and simply replaced with "genocide." The precise definition of "cultural genocide" remains unclear. Some ethnologists, such as Robert Jaulin, use the term "ethnocide" as a substitute for "cultural genocide", although this usage has been criticized as engendering a risk of confusing ethnicity with culture.Cultural heritage in Pakistan
Pakistan's cultural heritage includes archaeological sites, stupas, forts, shrines, tombs, buildings, residences, monuments, and places of worship. Until the passing of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, some sites were under the federal government while others were in the provincial domain.
In 1997, the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Environment Pakistan, published a list of notified protected archaeological sites and monuments, according to which there are total 389 sites and monuments under federal government protection while 444 are under provincial governments. Punjab and Sindh are the only two provinces which have provincial level laws to protect heritage. Aside from these sites, there are many others which are unprotected or privately owned.Cultural heritage management
Cultural heritage management (CHM) is the vocation and practice of managing cultural heritage. It is a branch of cultural resources management (CRM), although it also draws on the practices of cultural conservation, restoration, museology, archaeology, history and architecture. While the term cultural heritage is generally used in Europe, in the USA the term cultural resources is in more general use specifically referring to cultural heritage resources. CHM has traditionally been concerned with the identification, interpretation, maintenance, and preservation of significant cultural sites and physical heritage assets, although intangible aspects of heritage, such as traditional skills, cultures and languages are also considered. The subject typically receives most attention, and resources, in the face of threat, where the focus is often upon rescue or salvage archaeology. Possible threats include urban development, large-scale agriculture, mining activity, looting, erosion or unsustainable visitor numbers. The public face of CHM, and a significant source of income to support continued management of heritage, is the interpretation and presentation to the public, where it is an important aspect of tourism. Communicating with government and the public is therefore a key competence.Cultural property
Cultural property are physical items that are part of the cultural heritage of a group or society. They include such items as historic buildings, works of art, archaeological sites, libraries. and museums.Destruction of cultural heritage by ISIL
Deliberate destruction and theft of cultural heritage has been conducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant since 2014 in Iraq, Syria, and to a lesser extent in Libya. The destruction targets various places of worship under ISIL control and ancient historical artifacts. In Iraq, between the fall of Mosul in June 2014 and February 2015, ISIL had plundered and destroyed at least 28 historical religious buildings. Valuable items from some buildings were looted in order to smuggle and sell them to finance ISIS activities.ISIL uses a unit called the Kata'ib Taswiyya (settlement battalions) to select targets for demolition. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova branded the ISIS activities in this respect as "a form of cultural cleansing" and launched the Unite4Heritage campaign to protect heritage sites threatened by extremists.Heritage tourism
Cultural heritage tourism (or just heritage tourism or diaspora tourism) is a branch of tourism oriented towards the cultural heritage of the location where tourism is occurring.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States defines heritage tourism as "traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past", and "heritage tourism can include cultural, historic and natural resources".Historic site
Historic site or Heritage site is an official location where pieces of political, military, cultural, or social history have been preserved due to their cultural heritage value. Historic sites are usually protected by law, and many have been recognized with the official national historic site status. A historic site may be any building, landscape, site or structure that is of local, regional, or national significance.Intangible cultural heritage
An intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is a practice, representation, expression, knowledge, or skill, as well as the instruments, objects, artifacts, and cultural spaces that are considered by UNESCO to be part of a place's cultural heritage.
Intangible cultural heritage is considered by Member States of UNESCO in relation to the tangible World Heritage focusing on intangible aspects of culture. In 2001, UNESCO made a survey among States and NGOs to try to agree on a definition, and the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was drafted in 2003 for its protection and promotion.Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument
Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments are sites in Los Angeles, California, which have been designated by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission as worthy of preservation based on architectural, historic and cultural criteria.Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (Italy)
The Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (Italian: Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - MiBAC) is the culture ministry of the Italian Republic. MiBAC's headquarters are located in the historic Collegio Romano Palace (via del Collegio Romano 27, in central Rome) and the current Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities is Alberto Bonisoli. From 2013 to 2018 its official name was Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism.
It was set up in 1974 as the Ministry for Cultural Assets and Environments (Italian: Ministero per i Beni Culturali ed Ambientali) by the Moro IV Cabinet through the decree read on 14 December 1974, n. 657, converted (with changes) from the law of 29 January 1975, n. 5. The new ministry (defined as "per i beni culturali" - that is for cultural assets, showing the wish to create a mainly technical organ) largely has the remit and functions previously under the Ministry of Public Education (specifically its Antiquity and Fine Arts, and Academies and Libraries, sections). To this remit and functions it some of those of the Ministry of the Interior (State archives) and of the President of the Council of Ministers (state computer archives, publishing and diffusion of culture).
Legislative decree number 368 of 20 October 1998 set up the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, with all the old ministry's remits as well as some new ones:
promotion of sports and sports arenas
promotion of shows, in all their formsIn 2006, the sport portfolio was reassigned to the new Dipartimento per le Politiche Giovanili e le Attività Sportive.
The ministry is principally concerned with culture, the protection and preservation of artistic sites and property, landscape, and tourism (Decree 181/2006). At the end of 2006, the ministry's departments were abolished and their responsibilities returned to the ministry itself.
In 2009 the Ministry’s organisational structure underwent significant changes (Decree 91/2009): the coordination of ministerial functions is still entrusted to a Secretary General, the General Directorates have been reduced from nine to eight, with new denominations and a partial reshaping of their responsibilities. The eight General Directorates continue to be technically supported by high level scientific bodies (Central Institutes).
The peripheral ministerial structure of Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities is provided for, in 17 out of 20 regions, by Regional Directorates for Cultural Heritage and Landscape and by the local Soprintendenze.National heritage site
A national heritage site is a heritage site having a value that has been registered by a governmental agency as being of national importance to the cultural heritage or history of that country. Usually such sites are listed in a heritage register that is open to the public, and many are advertised by national visitor bureaus as tourist attractions.
Usually such a heritage register list is split by type of feature (natural wonder, ruin, engineering marvel, etc.). In many cases a country may maintain more than one register; there are also registers for entities that span more than one country.Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage
The Directorate for Cultural Heritage (Norwegian: Riksantikvaren or Direktoratet for kulturminneforvaltning) is a government agency responsible for the management of cultural heritage in Norway. Subordinate to the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment, it manages the Cultural Heritage Act of June 9, 1978. The directorate also has responsibilities under the Norwegian Planning and Building Law.Restoration (cultural heritage)
Restoration is a process that attempts to return cultural heritage to some previous state that the restorer imagines was the "original". This was commonly done in the past. However, in the late 20th century a separate concept of conservation-restoration was developed that is more concerned with preserving the work of art for the future, and less with making it look pristine. Restoration is controversial, since it often involves some irreversible change to the original material of the artwork with the goal of making it "look good." The attitude that has developed in recent years with the development of conservation is to attempt to make all restoration reversible.UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists
UNESCO established its Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage with the aim of ensuring better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide and the awareness of their significance. This list is published by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the members of which are elected by State Parties meeting in a General Assembly.
Through a compendium of the different oral and intangible treasures of humankind worldwide, the programme aims to draw attention to the importance of safeguarding intangible heritage, which UNESCO has identified as an essential component and as a repository of cultural diversity and of creative expression.The list was established in 2008 when the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took effect.
As of 2010 the programme compiles two lists. The longer, Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, comprises cultural "practices and expressions [that] help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance." The shorter, List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, is composed of those cultural elements that concerned communities and countries consider require urgent measures to keep them alive.In 2013 four elements were inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, which helps States Parties mobilize international cooperation and assistance to ensure the transmission of this heritage with the participation of the concerned communities. The Urgent Safeguarding List now numbers 35 elements.
The Committee also inscribed 25 elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which serves to raise awareness of intangible heritage and provide recognition to communities’ traditions and know-how that reflect their cultural diversity. The List does not attribute or recognize any standard of excellence or exclusivity. The list totaled 508 elements corresponding to 122 countries as of 2018.Elements inscribed in the lists are deemed as significant bastions of humanity's intangible heritage, the highest honour for intangible heritage in the world stage.World Heritage Site
A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. The sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity.
To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an already classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area). It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.The sites are intended for practical conservation for posterity, which otherwise would be subject to risk from human or animal trespassing, unmonitored/uncontrolled/unrestricted access, or threat from local administrative negligence. Sites are demarcated by UNESCO as protected zones. The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 states parties which are elected by their General Assembly.The programme catalogues, names, and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common culture and heritage of humanity. Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund. The program began with the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage, which was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972. Since then, 193 state parties have ratified the convention, making it one of the most widely recognized international agreements and the world's most popular cultural program.
As of July 2018, a total of 1,092 World Heritage Sites (845 cultural, 209 natural, and 38 mixed properties) exist across 167 countries. Italy, with 54 sites, has the most of any country, followed by China (53), Spain (47), France (44), Germany (44), India (37), and Mexico (35).