Environmental Degradation on Cultural Heritage
Environmental degradation has impacted different aspects of life in major ways. It has not only impacted agricultural, industrial and pastoral purposes but cultural heritage as well. There are numerous and main risk factors that affect the cultural heritage of any country and these include numerous anthropogenic and natural environmental factors.
Others such as landslides, earthquakes, rising water levels, smog formation in cities, pollution of streams, soil degradation, poor drainage systems, pollution of basins, lakes and lack of or poor drainage systems lead to destruction of historical, archeological and cultural heritage. The impact that is most destructive is often caused by natural catastrophes like earthquakes. Armenia is one such country that has lost great cultural heritage as a result of environmental degradation.
There are several graphic images and bibliographic notes that prove this. For instance, part of Ani City fell in 1064 during the 1319 earthquake and the Ani dome cathedral also collapsed. The 1679 earthquake was one of the most destructive events as it lead to the destruction of the major cathedral in Garni, several churches in Kanaker, Yerevan, Gokhtan village, the Ararat valley and Nork as well as cathedral in Abbey of Gayane, churches of St Hripsime and the cathedral in Echniadzin.
Salinity also affects the cultural significance of the Aboriginal culture. It has also impacted their contemporary expression of culture. Salinity has also played a major role in contributing towards species decline that are valued such as medicines, totems and wild foods. Salinity has damaged and in other cases destroyed archeological sites like carved and scarred trees, some burial sites as well as historical sites.
There are several heritage monuments, gardens and buildings that are at salinity risk. This is because as the water rises and gets into contact with the buildings they are damaged. When water evaporates, salt crystallizes and this leaves the masonry under immense stress and causes it to ‘spall’ then collapse damaging buildings that are of great cultural significance.
Yet, most of these buildings, traditional places and infrastructure cannot be replaced or repaired thus, leaving cultural heritage of the people completely destroyed. Cultural heritage is an extremely important element of the identity and history of our societies as such, it is important to ensure they are not negatively impacted by environmental degradation.
Europe is also known to have a cultural heritage that is rich and extraordinary. This includes unique values that were left behind by ancient civilizations in the Mediterranean basin and other regions. With use of proper intelligence, creativity and knowledge, it is possible to reduce or eliminate the further damage to the cultural heritage.
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