Cyprus: destruction of cultural property and narration of violent histories

I’ve just had an article on the destruction of cultural property and the historiography of the Cyprus Conflict published in (open-access) Papers from the Institute of Archaeology (PIA) (alongside lots of nice stuff on digital public archaeology, the archaeology of enclosure for the London Olympic Games, Mortimer Wheeler at war and more besides).

It considers:

  • the role of monuments and their destruction in memory and amnesia;
  • the restoration of cultural heritage and its impact on public understandings of history;
  • the behaviour of cultural heritage workers and their influence on public histories of violence; and
  • the role of biographies of cultural heritage sites in building trust and inciting hatred.

It demonstrates:

  • Greek Cypriot cultural heritage workers have violated professional codes of conduct in order to disguise the destruction of other communities’ property;
  • Greek Cypriot archaeologists have avoided documenting the destruction of other communities’ property, or have hidden evidence of that destruction; and
  • Turkish Cypriot state officials have silenced some histories of violence against their own community in order to avoid reminding the public that powerful Turkish Cypriot individuals and institutions were responsible for triggering at least some of that violence, thereby to preserve intercommunal division and consolidate nationalist power.

It finds:

  • ‘a narrative of coexistence that omits violence and suffering actually fuels anger and distrust’;
  • ‘[d]ivided communities need to establish accurate and consensual histories in order to be able to re-establish peaceful society’; and
  • ‘by protecting those key centres of shared public life, archaeologists also help to consolidate the infrastructure for reconciliation’.

Hardy, S A. 2013: Maintained in Very Good Condition or Virtually Rebuilt? Destruction of Cultural Property and Narration of Violent Histories. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, Volume 23, Number 1, Article 14, 1-9. Available at:

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