Egypt – August 2013
Following the ouster of Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, and the ensuing turmoil that followed, the Malawi National Museum in Minya, Egypt, was attacked, looted, and set ablaze by Islamic Extremists. OF the 1,089 objects recorded in the Museum’s inventory, 589 of the pieces were recovered. According to UNESCO, the existing inventory of the materials recorded is what led to their recovery. According to UNESCO, the Malawi National Museum Inventory “enabled UNESCO and its partners, including INTERPOL, to give visibility to the list of stolen objects, and made it easier to monitor the circulation of the looted objects in order to recover as many as possible.”
UNESCO – Warning: Looting of the Malawi National Museum in the Upper Egypt city of Minya
Iraq – 2009-Present
In an effort to combat the ISIL campaign of destruction of Christian heritage, Iraqi Dominican Christians have been digitizing 14th to 19th century historic Christian manuscripts. Supported by the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML) in Collegeville, Minnesota and led by Dominican Father Najeeb Michaeel – Father Michaeel and his group persuade local ancient manuscript owners, monasteries and churches to let him borrow their precious items for cleaning and digitization. After which, the restored original manuscripts are returned to the owner along with a digitized copy. Additionally, a digital copy is sent to specialized archives for continued preservation.
Success of these digitization efforts has already proven valuable: Father Michaeel had already digitized the collections in the Mar Behnam Syriac Catholic Monastery, as of October 2014 the Monastery sat behind the front lines of the destructive militant groups and rumored to have been destroyed or burned down. Since the project began, Father Michaeel and his restoration team of 6-8 people have made digital copies of 5,000 manuscripts with the ongoing support of the HMML.
Uganda – 2014
Earlier in 2014, a massive fire in Uganda led to the of the royal Kasubi tombs. The fire destroyed four tombs of Kings of Buganda. Luckily, CyArk – whose mission is to make and collect detailed digital records of the world’s cultural heritage sites – documented and scanned this site a year earlier. CyArk was contacted by a Bugandan Prince to start a rebuilding of the site.
CyArk has identified 800 at risk sites and has scanned 38 so far (all available at www.cyark.org)