Inora Newsletter #43
Meeting - Account
UNESCO INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ROCK ART
An international rock art conference was recently sponsored by UNESCO in conjunction with the Musée national de Préhistoire des Eyzies de Tayac, and the French Ministry of Culture. Held from September 5 9, 2005, in the auditorium of the new museum at Les Eyzies, France, the meeting had 31 participants, representing 21 countries of the world. These included 8 Asian, 6 European, 3 African and 3 American countries, along with Australia.
The purpose of the meeting was to assess the status of rock art research and preservation worldwide. It started with presentations by the representatives on recent research and site management achievements and problems in their respective countries. Identified problems that confront international rock art range from industrial development on the Dampier Peninsula (Australia), oil exploration in northern Africa, and deforestation in lowland South America, along with population pressures and development worldwide. On the optimistic side, a number of participants emphasized new research developments, especially improved rock art recording technologies. Many participants also expressed the need to integrate our own interests in rock art, as the heritage of all humankind and an important avenue for archaeological research, with the interests of local and indigenous communities, especially in developing countries.
One important goal of the meeting was to develop a series of recommendations that will be adopted by UNESCO and that thereby will help safeguard world rock art. The participants divided into a series of workshops where possible recommendations were discussed, and then reconvened in a general session where a complete list of recommendations was adopted by the group. These include suggestions to UNESCO, as an international body, as well as recommendations that UNESCO can forward to national governments and local agencies. The final wording of these recommendations is still under discussion. In general terms, however, they call for the preparation of a situational report by each country in order to assess its rock art and to help develop a detailed understanding of the status of rock art worldwide; they encourage the participation of all possible stakeholders in planning for the assessment and management of rock art sites; they promote non-invasive techniques for documentation and research and minimal intervention in conservation; they call for more rock art education, at all levels, as an important element of our preservation strategy; they ask governments to treat rock art as a non-renewable cultural heritage that is as important as natural heritage; and they request that countries submit rock art nominations to the World Heritage List.
Once finalized, the list of recommendations will be presented to the governing body of UNESCO where it will, hopefully, be adopted. (It is expected that this will occur in November, 2005. Once they have been ratified and adopted by UNESCO, they will be published in INORA.) The proceedings of the conference will also be made available in a special issue of Paleo, published by the Musée national de Préhistoire des Eyzies-de-Tayac.