On Wednesday, April 13, 2016, the US Senate passed legislation to ban the import of cultural artifacts from Syria in efforts to protect the heritage of the Middle East and North Africa and curtail the fund-raising ISIS does by looting and selling world heritage antiquities on the black market. As part of this initiative and as part of the #CultureUnderThreat Task Force Report, the Antiquities Coalition partnered with Hexagon Geospatial to create the Culture Under Threat Smart M.App.
US Legislation to Protect World Heritage Sites
The legislation, known as the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, is meant to suppress terrorist organization financing from antiquities trafficking and also aid in the preservation of historic sites of great significance to our world heritage. The #CultureUnderThreat Task Force, comprised of the Antiquities Coalition, Asia Society, and Middle East Institute, stands ready to assist in these efforts and put a stop to cultural crimes. Prior to the passing of the legislation, the Task Force composed a report with several recommendations that they believe are necessary for ending cultural crimes. As noted in the report, the Task Force’s focus is towards the United States, as they make up 43% of the global art market and can spearhead the initiative to stop these crimes. The recommendations are meant to guide international leaders like the United Nations, sectors of the United States government—such as the White House, Congress, the Armed Forces and DOD, and others—as well as private art market players, including museums and art dealers.
The #CultureUnderThreat Task Force initiative also included the Culture Under Threat Smart M.App that the Antiquities Coalition developed in collaboration with Hexagon Geospatial.
The Culture Under Threat Smart M.App
The Culture Under Threat M.App is one use of the Incident Analyzer Smart M.App from Hexagon Geospatial and incorporates high-resolution satellite imagery from Digital Globe with Hexagon Smart M.App technology to provide a graphical representation of cultural crimes committed in the Middle East and North African region. Focusing on giving a clear dashboard view of trends which help visualize change, the Culture Under Threat Smart M.App can be used to recognize patterns and understand when and where destruction has occurred over time.
The Culture Under Threat Smart M.App is interactive and available for the public to explore. By zooming in on the map, users can view where incidents have occurred within certain areas, and by clicking on the different sites, users can read about the incidents more specifically. The map can also be drilled down within the different layers, including terror-controlled sites, sites where incidents have occurred, all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, museum locations, and hot spots. The map also allows users to set boundaries and filter incidents by suspected terrorist organizations. Explore the #CultureUnderThreat Smart M.App.
Visit the Antiquities Coalition’s website to learn more about their organization and the initiatives of the Culture Under Threat Task Force.