APPEAL LAUNCHED ON 8 MARCH 1960 BY MR. VITTORINO VERONESE, DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO
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APPEAL LAUNCHED ON 8 MARCH 1960 BY MR. VITTORINO VERONESE, DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO
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Background: APPEAL LAUNCHED ON 8 MARCH 1960 BY MR. VITTORINO VERONESE, DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO
Work has begun on the great Aswan dam. Within five years, the Middle Valley of the Nile will be turned into a vast lake. Wondrous structures, ranking among the most magnificent on earth, are in danger of disappearing beneath the waters. The dam will bring fertility to huge stretches of desert; but the opening up of new fellatees to the tractors, the provision of new sources of power to future factories threatens to exact a terrible price.
True, when the welfare of suffering human beings is at stake, then, if need be, images of granite and porphyry must be sacrificed unhesitatingly. But no one forces to make such a choice could contemplate without anguish the necessity for making it.
It is not easy to choose between a heritage of the past and the present well-being of a people, living in need in the shadow of one of history's most splendid legacies, it is not easy to choose between temples and crops. I would be sorry for any man called on to make that choice who could do so without a feeling of despair; I would be sorry for any man who, whatever decision he might reach, could bear the responsibility for that decision without a feeling of remorse.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the government of the United Arab Republic and sudan have called on an international body, on Unesco, to try to save the threatened monuments. These monuments, whose loss may be tragically near, do not belong solely to the countries who hold them in trust. The whole world has the right to see them endure. They are part of a common heritage which comprise Socrates' message and the Ajanta frescoes, the walls of Uxmal and Beethoven's symphonies. Treasures of universal fallouts entitled to universal protection. When a thing of beauty, whose loveliness increases filers than diminishes by being shared, is lost, then all men alike are the losers.
Moreover, it is not merely a question of preserving something which may otherwise be lost; it is a question of bringing to light an as yet undiscovered wealth for the benefit of all. In return for the help the world gives them, the governments of Cairo and Khartoum will open the whole of their countries to archaeological excavation and will allow half of whatever works of art may be unearthed by science or by hazard to go to foreign museums. They will even agree to the transport, stone by stone, of certain monuments of Nubia.
A new era of magnificent enrichment is thus opened in the field of Egyptology. Instead of a world deprived of a part of its wonders, mankind may hope for the revelation of hitherto unknown marvels.
So noble a cause deserves a no less generous response. It is, therefore, with every confidence that I invite governments, institutions, public or private foundations and men of goodwill everywhere to contribute to the success of a task without parallel in history. Services, equipment and money are all needed. There are innumerable ways in which all can help. It is fitting that from a land which throughout the centuries has been the scene of - or the stake in - so many covetous disputes should spring a convincing proof of international solidarity.
"Egypt is a gift of the Nile"; for countless students this was the first Greek phrase which they learnt to translate. May the peoples of the world unite to ensure that the Nile, in becoming a greater source of fertility and power, does not bury beneath its waters marvels which we of today have inherited from generations long since vanished.
MESSAGE FROM H.M. THE KING OF SWEDEN
A couple of months ago I was approached by the Director-General of Unesco, on the problem how to safeguard and study a very considerable number of old monuments along that part of the valley of the Nile, which is soon going to be affected by flooding as a result of the building of the new Aswan barrage. It goes without saying that I at once realized the importance of saving the ancient monuments and sites thus threatened, and at the same time the huge scope of any action that might be taken to counteract as far s possible the nefarious results of the flooding.
The Director-General of Unesco has already eloquently emphasized the great importance of all this historical and archaeological material. I can only corroborate his statement in saying, that these cultural remains ought to be regarded as common patrimony to the whole of mankind. There are indeed a few places in the world as rich in this respect as the Valley of the Nile.
If something really important is to be achieve, it seems obvious that concerted action of many countries must ensue. The task is so big and the time at our disposal so limited that we can scarcely hope to accomplish everything that might be desirable. But nevertheless it seems to me that if we all be determined to make a great common effort, very considerable results will be obtained. Our joint work must however be carefully planned and organized, so that every contribution to the common cause should be made to be as efficient as possible.
I therefore as President of the Committee of Patrons have great pleasure in fully supporting the appeal that is now being launched, wishing this great international undertaking every possible success.
MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT GAMAL ABDEL NASSER OF THE UNITED ARABS REPUBLIC
I am happy to send my greetings to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural Organization at the time when it is launching an international appeal to save the monuments of Nubia.
The High Dam Project corresponds to the necessities of life; it meets the demands of democratic, social and economic development and should bring prosperity to the populations of the Nile Valley. But these demands should not make us forget that it is indispensable to assure the safeguarding of an essential part of our heritage. Our own heritage, besides consists only of a small part of the heritage of all mankind; our love for the heritage of mankind is based on the living link which unites generations to each other by a secret and uninterrupted thread.
We know from the bottom of our hearts that if mankind has been able to progress, it is because it has been able to preserve from oblivion the heritage accumulated by successive generations, thus succeeding in preserving its honour and its truth.
Mankind forms an indivisible whole. The parts which constitute it cannot get along without each other nor go into isolation. That is why we have appealed to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural Organization by asking it, in turn, to appeal to all the nations of the world to save that part of civilization which belongs to all of mankind.
We are certain that if man endeavours to develop his faculties and to exercise his will in the direction of what is good, then he becomes capable of achieving it.
The action undertaken to save the monuments of Nubia already shows that dynamic energies can be oriented toward close international co-operation in the domain of high culture; fate has decided that this co-operation should be expressed today in the Valley of the Nile. This action will constitute, we have no doubt, a happy precedent for the generation of the United Nations, that generation which is trying to make the Charter a living reality, a belief and a faith; which affirms its confidence in the value of human co-operation and which seeks a better knowledge of civilizations and cultures despite differences of time and place.
One day, our Project will be crowned by the most complete success, and it will owe this success to you; it will also owe it to the efforts of all those who, in your countries, will have united their thoughts and their actions to save these monuments.
all those who will have contributed to the carrying out of this Project - governments, private of public institutions or individuals - will have affirmed their confidence in universal co-operation of all the nations of the universe and in the co-operation of a human community which knows its goals and knows the paths which must be followed to reach them.
Message from H.E. FERIK IBRAHIM ABBOUD, President of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Prime Minister of the Republic of the Sudan
The Republic of the Sudan in whose territory a large part of ancient Nubia lies has always been alive to the danger which threatens its antiquities and that is why it asked Unesco for help.
Why is it the duty of the sudan and of the world at large to ensure that the treasures still standing in the open or buried in the sand are safeguarded ? The Sudan is one of the oldest civilized countries in the world and this lays upon it a heavy dual responsibility : first to the Sudanese people, to safeguard the records and monuments of their past, and secondly to the international community, for the history of the Sudan is a part of the history of mankind.
Since 1955, the Sudan /antiquities Service has been working in the endangered area. Excavations have been undertaken at Debeira, Serra, Fares, Semna. In addition, a preliminary survey has been carried out both from the air and on the ground to ascertain the number and importance of the sites and monuments which will disappear under the waters of the new reservoir. Over one hundred sites have so far been recorded. Among them are four temples, many rock graves and rock chapels, fourteen fortresses four thousand years old, twenty Christian churches, seven ancient towns, numerous cemeteries, rock drawings and rock inscriptions. Of these hundred sites, forty-seven will disappear as early as 1963. With less than three years to do the work, the Sudan Antiquities Service cannot alone carry out such an enormous task and that is why I am appealing to the world at large to come and help us. We shall be most grateful to any country or scientific institution which is able to come and assist us to explore 800 square kilometers, to excavate the 47 known sites and those which have not yet been discovered, to dismantle and re-erect two temples and to save the paintings from three churches. Assistance could be given either by sending archaeological missions to the Sudan, or lending the services of technicians,or by giving financial help. We are prepared to give at least fifty per cent of the finds to contributors and, since Nubia is a little known country, finds are likely to be of great importance.
Sudan is most grateful to the Executive Board of Unesco and to its Director-General for all that is being done to launched a world appeal to safeguard the treasures of Nubia. already, Unesco is providing us with the help of three expert in the field work and is going to pay part of the expenses of the air survey we have already made. To Unesco then I express my warmest thanks.
I am glad also to be able to report that, notwithstanding the fact that the world appeal of Unesco is only being launched officially today, several countries and institutions have already expressed their wish to come and help us. The Egypt Exploration Society of London is now excavating the very important site of Buhen and will explore Meinarti when the work at Buhen is finished. The committee for archaeological excavation of the French Government has asked fort permission to excavate the site of Aksha. The Belgian queen Elizabeth Egyptological foundation is offering to undertake the photogrammetric survey and the full excavation of one site yet to be decided upon. The Swedish Government offers the same help, and an expert from Ghana is now in the Sudan contemplating the excavation of the site of Serra. To these countries and institutions I wish to express my thanks.
It is gratifying to know that His Majesty the King of Sweden has kindly accepted to be the President of the International Committee of Patrons, composed of prominent personalities from all over the world. The gratitude and thanks of the Government and people of the Republic of the Sudan are due to His Majesty and to the members of the Committee of Patrons and of the International Actions committee.