The exhibition Eternal sites, from Bamiyan to Palmyra, journey to the heart of the world heritage sites took place at Bouregreg cultural complex in Salé, Morocco.
The exhibition organized under the patronage of King Mohammed VI and French President Emmanuel Macron, it had evoked four sites in its initial version (Khorsabad, Palmyra, the Great Mosque of the Umayyads of Damascus, and Krak of the Knights), and it had benefited from a new added space in its Moroccan version. Eternal sites exhibition was initiated by the Royal Directorate of Archives, the Louvre Museum and the meeting of national museums-Grand Palais with the support of UNESCO. It had allowed the public to admire contemporary Moroccan works of eternal sites such as those which come from Nkhila, Banassa, Volubilis and Al-Qatawiyyine Mosque and to apprehend cultural interbreeding between Christian and Muslim civilizations and the extent of their influence.
The event aimed to raise public awareness of the notion of endangered heritage through the evocation of emblematic sites and the depredations that threaten the universal heritage, especially in times of conflict. It allowed discovering or rediscovering the splendors of large archaeological sites located today in risky high zones, Bamiyan, Khorsabad, Palmyra, the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus and Krak of the Knights, sites of universal heritage particularly threatened by the conflict in Afghanistan and the Middle East. According to UNESCO, for Syria alone, the six World Heritage sites and countless other cultural and archaeological sites have been damaged or looted or even destroyed to varying degrees.
Moroccan color for the Eternal Sites
The four sites presented in the universal space are important for four different civilizations: Khorsabad, city of the High Antiques founded by King Sargon II (713-706 BC) in the province of Nineveh, was one of the capitals of the great neo-Assyrian empire that succeeded in dominating most of the Near East in the first half of the first millennium before our era; Palmyra, in the heart of the desert, halfway between the Mediterranean coast and the Euphrates, former caravan relay whose splendor was mainly retained in Roman times but whose existence dates back to the second millennium before our era; the Great Mosque, built in the heart of Damascus by the Umayyad Dynasty (661-750), is one of the oldest masterpieces of Islamic architecture; Krak des Chevaliers, a castle located in western Syria, is one of the most prestigious and best preserved castles of the Crusader era.
To give a Moroccan color to this exhibition, millenary Moroccan sites, such as N'Khila (Rabat region), Volubilis, Banassa and al-Qaraouiyyne mosque had been presented to accommodate the four universal heritage sites mentioned above. The exhibition invited the public to revisit in two different spaces the same periods and to testify the seniority of the Moroccan state, its durability and its practice of moderate Islam.
Destruction and aggression against Eternal Sites
The exhibition had offered an opportunity to adopt the measures necessary for a healthy preservation of this universal heritage, a common heritage of humanity, to appeal to other countries to join the objectives and philosophy of the International Alliance for the Protection of World Heritage in Conflict Zones (ALIPH), which aims to protect heritage, lay the foundation for the construction of lasting peace. The event was also one of the means to rethink of Morocco national heritage and enlighten younger generations to guard against misguidance.
"We are witnessing with as much sadness as bitterness to an instrumentalization of spiritualties that makes us run the risk of a decline in civilization and a collective regression. We are in the presence of a threat of World Heritage destruction and a horrible aggression against humanity, its values and its memory, "said Bahija Simou, Director of the Royal Archives.
This exhibition traced the attacks against the universal heritage as did Daech against Palmyra. "We are witnessing with as much sadness as bitterness to an instrumentalization of spiritualties that makes us run the risk of a decline in civilization and collective regression. We are in the presence of a threat of destruction of world heritage and a horrible aggression against humanity, against its values and against its memory, "said Bahija Simou during a press briefing the day after official opening.
For the director of the royal archives, in the face of this situation and in respect of the cultures of all, "HM the King continues to call and adhere to the realization of one or more common spaces where respect for the other, fraternity, tolerance and coexistence reign". One aspect of the royal vision is summarized as follows: "To aim at the protection of the universal heritage is to lay the foundations for the construction of a lasting peace".