JOURNAL OF DEFENCE STUDIES

Cultural Heritage and the Armed Forces

Lt. Col, Rajiv Tewari, presently with HQ 98 Arty Brigade, has commanded a Surveillance and Target Acquisition Unit in desert. He has a postgraduate degree in Defence Technology from Pune, and a postgraduate diploma in humanitarian law from Nalsar University, Hyderabad.
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  • April 2012
    Volume: 
    6
    Issue: 
    2
    Commentaries

    Imagine if there is a war between India and Pakistan and the National Museum at New Delhi was vandalized and precious historical artifacts and other historical objects were stolen; or close your eyes and visualize India without the Taj Mahal which may be destroyed in an air attack. The standing bodhisattvas, dating back to seventh century AD, and the arms and armours of the Mughal era are some of the fabulous cultural wealth stored in the National Museum that is priceless for the nation and the loss of which can be the loss of the entire golden history of that era. That is literally what has happened to the Iraq National Museum in Baghadad (the Archaeological Institute of America has raised concern on the subject). Many artifacts contained in the museum were excavated from what has come to be known as the “Cradle of Civilisation” and artifacts-like a Sumerian marble head of a woman from Warka, dated 3000 BC and measuring 20 cm high-were found stolen from the National Museum in Baghdad. The fog of war and the instability that followed led to the looting and disappearance of thousands of such priceless artifacts from Baghdad National Museum and have sent alarm bells ringing regarding the preservation of cultural heritage in any armed conflict. The Chinese Cultural Revolution was another example of what harm can be done to the cultural heritage and how history can be obliterated and precious artifacts destroyed in the event of hostility breaking out.

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