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National Roots Day: The Importance of Knowing Your Heritage

December 23, 2019

Roots DayDecember 23rd is National Roots Day. This day encourages us to take a look back at our history. Our culture plays a huge role in who we are, and it should be celebrated, appreciated, and protected.

While many are lucky enough to have their heritage intact, several areas of the world are forced to fight to protect the sites and objects that tell the story of their family, community, or nation.

Cultural racketeering, armed conflict, and violent extremism are robbing future generations of their past.

Roots Day is A Chance to Reflect on Our Culture

Roots Day allows us the opportunity to look at the basis of what we stand for and reflect on what is truly important to us.

The Antiquities Coalition was founded on the belief that antiquities and the ancient sites from which they come are irreplaceable resources. They serve as a tangible link to our culture, history, and environment, helping us to understand who we are, who we have been, and who we may become. While they hold different value to different peoples, they predate many of the modern world’s political, economic, and religious differences, and thus unite rather than divide us.

Sadly, this shared heritage is being erased by cultural racketeering, the looting and trafficking of antiquities, to feed the growing market for ancient art. Violent extremist organizations are also using culture as a weapon of war, through ideological and intentional destruction. We have witnessed first-hand the toll these crimes have taken on the historical record, and more importantly, on people around the world.

It can be easy to take your history for granted and assume that our cultural treasures will be around forever for us to appreciate. However, in recent weeks, months, and years, the world has suffered major losses. We must realize that our cultural heritage is as threatened as it is important.

Honoring Your Roots While Honoring the Roots of Others

Responsible cultural exchange can fight these threats by fostering mutual understanding, appreciation, and respect among peoples and nations. The lawful and ethical collection and trade in antiquities can do the same, so long as it does not harm local communities, disrupt the historical record, or fund crime, conflict, or violent extremism. Repatriation can also serve as a bridge between cultures, and moreover, an opportunity to right past wrongs.

In recent years, we’ve seen great success, as different stakeholders have come together in a shared mission to safeguard our cultural heritage from crime and conflict. These joint efforts give us hope for the future that other nations will be encouraged to take action so that everyone’s heritage will be protected for them to enjoy, learn from, and appreciate for generations to come.

To read more about the efforts being taken to protect culture, click here.

To read more about the Antiquities Coalition’s roots, click here.