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Diary

Rome & the Spirit of World Heritage Day

Sophia Khan

Today being World Heritage Day, I thought I would share some thoughts on the preservation of world heritage which is something that has been very near and dear to me for quite some time. The above image is a reflection of one of the things I love about Rome and Italy in general; the romance of everyday life occurring in the backdrop of history.  There are many things that I find beautiful in environments that reflect our past, but the one that comes to mind first is that it connects us to something larger than ourselves.

My first career involved historic preservation in NYC.  I loved having a hand in preserving the city's historic architecture and this furthered my interest, eventually leading to a small preservation study in Matera, Italy.

Now, several years later, I still have a strong passion for preservation related to historic sites and monuments.  So it was with much pleasure that I learned of the work of The American Institute for Roman Culture.

Earlier today they held a conference on conservation through visual storytelling, which I attending online.  The use of technology and social media in raising awareness and helping in the conservation of cultural heritage was discussed.  Some interesting examples were brought up such as how social media helped prevent a proposal which involved disposing of trash near Hadrian's Villa.  An image posted online of the Lascaux caves in France raised much interest and got a lot of people talking.  All to the point that the caves eventually were closed off to the public, in interest of their protection.  A one hour twitter forum was conducting celebrating the Latin language, where participants communicated only in that language on fun topics such as gladiator fighting techniques.  

I do have some reservations about social media taking precedence over in person interaction, as I would never want the world to get too small.  Also, for me there is much charm in going to places during my travels that are not well known and have not been heavily advertised through social media. However, in light of conservation efforts and increasing interest and awareness of at risk cultural heritage, I do feel differently.  I can see much benefit in the use of social media and in the world perhaps getting a bit smaller for a moment to share a passion for preserving the past; a past that tells of where we have been, our strengths and our struggles, our hopes and our dreams, and in doing so, enriches our present.

To learn more about The American Institute for Roman Culture, visit their website here.

New here? Be sure to stop by my gallery of watercolors here.