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Palace Museum hosts ancient heritage protection forum

By Wang Kaihao | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-18 07:58
Shan Jixiang, Palace Museum director, speaks at the opening ceremony of the third Taihe Forum on Protecting the World's Ancient Civilizations in Beijing on Sunday. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

The third annual Taihe Forum on Protecting the World's Ancient Civilizations opened in the Palace Museum in Beijing on Sunday.

The three-day forum, co-organized by the museum, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, gathers scholars and government officials from 13 countries and several international organizations who come together to share their experiences.

The name of the forum is taken from the Hall of Supreme Harmony, or Taihedian, one of the most impressive sections of the palace. The first Taihe forum was held in 2016 with participants from eight countries.

The protection and inheritance of ancient capital cities is the main theme of this year's forum.

This year's event will explore solutions to balance urban development and protect cultural heritage in ancient capitals, said Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum.

Some sections will discuss sustainable development of cultural resources in these cities as well as restoration of historical relics.

"The issue is commonly faced by many countries around the world," Shan said in the keynote speech. "Governments have to take more responsibility to mix protection of cultural heritage with the comprehensive development of economies and societies.

"More scientific evidence should be available to support protection," he said.

Forum delegates came from developed Western countries with rich expertise such as Germany, Italy and Greece, and also from nations struggling with crisis in recent years, such as Syria and Iraq.

Safeguarding the heritage of regions enduring conflict and other calamities is also a key issue being discussed during the forum.

"Mountains and rivers in Syria represent a wellspring of the earliest human civilization," said Tawfik Alhajenam, Syria's assistant minister of culture, "Our cultural heritage should not be overshadowed (by war) in modern times.

"We appreciate support from the Chinese government in our effort to fight terrorism," he said." It is also an action meant to save our historical heritage from being destroyed."

Other scholars presented their comparative academic research on China in the context of the ancient Silk Road.

Hassan Nami, an Iranian archaeologist from the University of Neyshabur, spoke of the close connections between Iran and China during the Sasanian Empire (224-651), based on archaeological discoveries and studies of documents.

The Belt and Road Initiative illustrated cultural connections among participants at the forum. The Palace Museum has endeavored to introduce exhibitions from overseas to improve the Chinese public's understanding of the world's ancient civilizations.

In 2016, the museum featured a comparative exhibition displaying Indian sculptures during the Gupta Empire, which existed from the mid-to late 3rd century to the 6th century, and their contemporaneous counterparts in China. In 2017, another exhibition on Afghanistan was held at the museum.

The Antikythera Shipwreck, an ongoing exhibition at the Palace Museum, displays some 300 artifacts retrieved from a sunken Greek ship in the Aegean Sea from the first century BC.

"Letting the public know one another through cultural relics is a good way for ancient civilizations to have dialogues today," said Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki, secretary-general of Greece's Ministry of Culture and Sports.

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