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Prisoners to help restore heritage structures

Prisoners in West Bengal's Murshidabad district will be involved in an unusual conservation project from October. Inmates at the Lagola open-air correctional home will help to conserve historic buildings on the site of their institution, neatly combining vocational training with preservation needs. The project has been funded by a $64,000 International Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation Grant from the United States Embassy, and will be overseen by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

Walk like an Egyptian

Egyptian archaeologists claim to have found the world's oldest human footprint in the western desert of Egypt. The footprint ’“ which was originally made in mud, now turned to rock ’“ was discovered during excavations at the Siwa oasis. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said, ‘this could go back about two million years’, although other sources at the SCA claim that it could pre-date even Lucy, a 3.2 million year old hominid skeleton from Ethiopia. Previously, the oldest human archaeological evidence from Egypt dates back about 200,000 years.

Preservation of women's cultural heritage in Senegal

The Musée de la Femme Henriette Bathily in Senegal has been awarded $28,500 for the preservation of women's cultural heritage. The funds were provided by the U.S. Department of State through the Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation. The preservation project will take place over one year, and will include the conservation of objects in the museum's collections, refurbishment of the museum buildings, and the production of a new catalogue and website.

New technique can image closed books

Degraded manuscripts and scrolls can now be read without being opened, using X-rays that are 100 billion times brighter than a standard laboratory X-ray tube. A team from Cardiff University have used the UK's new Diamond synchrotron research facility to examine fire-damaged parchment rolls written with iron gall ink. Iron gall ink corrodes readily and is a major cause of damage to manuscripts, leaving many too brittle to handle.

“New seven wonders” vote condemned

Following a global campaign and an online vote by members of the public, the new ‘seven wonders of the world’ were announced in Lisbon by the New7Wonders Foundation. They include the Great Wall of China, the Palace Tombs of Petra, the archaeological sites Machu Picchu and Chichen Itza and the Taj Mahal. However, UNESCO condemned the competition as a ‘mediatised campaign’, claiming that the shortlist was too limited to be useful. There are also concerns that publicity resulting from the competition could lead to a damaging increase in visitor numbers at vulnerable archaeological sites.

Ancient Olympia threatened by forest fires

Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic games, narrowly escaped destruction in the forest fires that swept Greece at the end of August. The fires destroyed swathes of forest surrounding the archaeological site but were halted before they reached the ruins of the ancient stadium and its adjoining museum, which houses many classical sculptures. However, some architectural fragments were damaged when a nearby storage area burnt down, and the site itself was affected by water and foam from the helicopters that put out the fires.

22 Aug 2007 to 26 Aug 2007

NucleArt award for the Ruder Boskovic Institute

Scientists at the Ruder Boskovic Institute Laboratory for Radiation Chemistry and Dosimetry in Croatia have been presented with a Special Award for their by the Conservation Laboratory NucleArt, for their use of gamma irradiation in conservation processes. As yet, only French and Croatian scientists use this technique, and it has yet to meet with widespread approval for conservation. Laboratory NucleArt is a part of the Institute for Nuclear Research (CEA) in Grenoble and the leading institution for using nuclear methods in conservation.

Textile conservation goes green

A group of Portuguese scientists claim to have developed an environmentally-friendly method of cleaning textiles. Researchers from the New University of Lisbon used liquid and supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) to clean the garments of an eighteenth-century sculpture. Compared with traditional solvents - many of which are highly toxic and damaging to the environment - CO2 is claimed to be relatively inert and non-toxic, and is said to remove dirt equally effectively without damaging the textile fibres.

New world heritage sites announced

Twenty-two new sites have been inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List this year. Sixteen of the new additions are cultural sites, bringing the number of inscribed cultural

UK's MDA launches online Condition Assessment Tool

The UK's MDA (formerly the Museum Documentation Association) has announced the launch of an online Condition Assessment Tool (CAT). The CAT was developed by the Scottish Museums Council (SMC) and was originally distributed only on a CD-ROM. The MDA have now made the CAT available through their Collections Link website, and hope that it will bring the software to a wider audience, including all types of people who work with collections.


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