Arab Today, arab today astronomy and world heritage thematic initiative
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Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Astronomy and World Heritage thematic initiative

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Astronomy and World Heritage thematic initiative

Venice - Arab Today

Created in 2003 within the framework of the Global Strategy for the balanced, representative and credible World Heritage List, as a pilot activity for the identification of the sites connected with astronomy , the Thematic Initiative on Astronomy and World Heritage, aims to establish a link between Science and Culture towards recognition of the monuments and sites connected with astronomical observations dispersed throughout all the geographical regions, not only scientific but also the testimonies of traditional community knowledge. This Initiative offers to the States Parties a possibility to evaluate and recognize the importance of this specific heritage, in terms of enrichment of the history of humanity, the promotion of cultural diversity and the development of international exchanges. It provides an opportunity not only to identify the sites connected with astronomy but also of keeping their memory alive and preserving them from progressive deterioration, through the through inscription on the World Heritage List of the most representative properties. Why \"Astronomy\" and \"World Heritage\" The sky, our common and universal heritage, forms an integral part of the total environment that is perceived by mankind. Including the interpretation of the sky as a theme in World Heritage is a logical step towards taking into consideration the relationship between mankind and its environment. This step is necessary for the recognition and safeguarding of cultural properties and of cultural or natural landscapes that transcribe the relationship between mankind and the sky. Properties relating to astronomy stand as a tribute to the complexity and diversity of ways in which people rationalised the cosmos and framed their actions in accordance with that understanding. This includes, but is by no means restricted to, the development of modern scientific astronomy. This close and perpetual interaction between astronomical knowledge and its role within human culture is a vital element of the outstanding universal value of these properties. These material testimonies of astronomy, found in all geographical regions, span all periods from prehistory to today. Implementation activities The first international experts meeting on scientific and astronomical heritage organized by the World Heritage Centre in collaboration with the UNESCO Venice Office and the support of the Government of the United Kingdom, was held in Venice, Italy (17-19 March 2004). The main goal of the meeting was to define the strategy of the thematic initiative and a methodology which will aid States Parties in identification of the sites connected with astronomy. The results of this activity, including the thematic project “Astronomy and World Heritage” was presented during the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee. In 2004, the World Heritage Committee at its 28th session (Decisions 28 COM 9, para. 6 , Suzhou, China) requested the World Heritage Centre to submit, for its consideration at its 29th session, the Thematic Initiative of the World Heritage Centre on “Astronomy and World Heritage”. In 2005, the World Heritage Committee at its 29th session (Decision 29 COM 5B , Durban, South Africa) requested the Director of the World Heritage Centre to further explore the Thematic Initiative “Astronomy and World Heritage” as a means to promote, in particular, nominations which recognize and celebrate achievements in science. This Thematic Initiative including UNESCO’s Astronomy and World Heritage Timeframe were presented at the International Symposium organised by the Institute of Astronomy of Russian Academy of Sciences, held in June 2005 in Moscow (Russian Federation). In 2007, during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Sputnik organized by ESA/CNES , the World Heritage Centre launched a new research proposal « Odyssey of human creative genius: towards protection of space technological heritage connected with space exploration ». In 2008, the World Heritage Committee at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008) examined the Integrated Implementation Strategy of the Thematic Initiative “Astronomy and World Heritage” (document WHC-08/32.COM/INF.5C , Decision 32 COM 5 ). This strategy, prepared in coordination with the National Focal Points in charge of the implementation of the Initiative, Advisory Bodies and the International Astronomical Union (IAU), aims to improve the identification, conservation and management of the specific types of properties connected with astronomical observations and traditional astronomical knowledge. In October 2008, UNESCO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Astronomical Union (IAU) as a result of which the IAU has become integrally involved in the process of advancing the initiative. One of the first actions of the IAU has been to set up a Working Group on Astronomy and World Heritage . For more information on its activities visit the Working Group’s website at www.astronomicalheritage.org. In order to facilitate the identification and nomination process of astronomical sites, a cycle of activities Astronomy and World Heritage: across time and continents  was launched by the Director-General of UNESCO in 2009 during the opening ceremony of the International Year of Astronomy “ The Universe, Yours to Discover ”. In order to raise the credibility of the World Heritage Convention, numerous events were organized by the States Parties, in coordination with the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies, in 2009 and early 2010. The main activities are the followings: an International Youth Summer Camp on Astronomy and World Heritage , organized by the WHITR-AP Suzhou Centre (Suzhou, China, July 2009), an International Conference on \"Astronomy and World Heritage: across time and continents\" organised and hosted by the Russian Federation (Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, August 2009), an International Seminar on Astronomical Heritage organized by the Egyptian National Commission for UNESCO, with support of the World Heritage Funds (Cairo, Egypt, February 2010). In 2010, the Committee at its 34th session (Decision 34 COM 5F.1 , Brasilia, 2010) requested the World Heritage Centre to disseminate among the States Parties the Thematic Study on Astronomical Heritage jointly prepared by ICOMOS and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group, in line with Decision 32 COM 10A (Quebec City, 2008) and within the framework of the Integrated Implementation Strategy of this Initiative. A second Statement of Working Methods and Formal Processes for the Implementation of Activities was established within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between UNESCO and IAU extended in October 2010. At its 34th session (Brazil, July 2010), the World Heritage Committee inscribed on the World Heritage List two properties connected with astronomy: the Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (India) , an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century comprising 19 large instruments for naked-eye observation. This represents one of the most complete and impressive collections in the world of telescopic masonry instruments in functioning condition; the 13th-century Dengfeng Observatory in China, inscribed as one of the components of the Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in “The Centre of Heaven and Earth” (China). This extraordinary horizontal gnomon and 31m-long measuring scale was used for accurately measuring the length of the sun\'s noontime shadow, and hence for determining the length of the tropical year and the curvature of the earth. In 2011, at its 35th session of the World Heritage Committee (Decision 35 COM 9C , UNESCO, Paris) encouraged States Parties to take into account the recommendations provided by the Science and Technology Expert Working Group in the context of World Heritage Nominations (London, 2008), as well as recommendations developed within the framework of the Thematic Initiative “Astronomy and World Heritage” while preparing nominations to the World Heritage List. In 2011-2012, the network of partners was reinforced, international efforts to recognize astronomical heritage were coordinated, a new transnational project “Route of European Observatories” was initiated by the French authorities, a new project proposal on Space Technological Heritage was launched by the Russian authorities and the “Paris Declaration on astronomical heritage” was adopted by the participants during the International Seminar ”Protection of Heritage of Astronomy” (Paris, September 2011) . At its 36th Session (St. Petersburg, 2012), the World Heritage Committee welcomed financial and technical support provided by States Parties and the International Astronomical Union for Thematic Initiative “Astronomy and World Heritage”, since 2003 and also encouraged cooperation between the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, specialized agencies and relevant interdisciplinary scientific initiatives towards the elaboration of a Global Thematic Study on Heritage of Science and Technology, including studies and research on technological heritage connected with space exploration. The Committee further encouraged States Parties, international organizations and other donors to contribute to the thematic programmes and initiative and also requests an updated report on Thematic Programmes to the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.

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