By Shira Gould || Staff Writer
This week’s Common Hour was given by C. Brian Rose, a professor of Archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania. Rose has a passion for preserving historical landmarks and antiquities. As such, Rose is the curator in charge of the Mediterranean section of the Penn Museum. He was also the president of the Archaeological Institute of America.
Rose took the audience along his journey of advocacy for the protection of historical landmarks. He began the talk by discussing his view that war causes murder and destruction. He additionally stated that war is also responsible for the destruction of many historically relevant antiquities. He noted that soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often perform in plays that reenact Trojan wars in order to acknowledge the fact that many people have experienced the same horrors that they have. He also pointed out the similarity in memorials for Trojan soldiers and the memorials for modern veterans.
Rose said that war techniques that are used today can be traced back all the way to ancient Rome. The Romans would behead their captives the same way that members of ISIS behead theirs now. In ancient Rome, the trophy for war would be the captive’s head. This practice informs some of the horrors experienced in warfare today.
Rose discussed the fact that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have caused great destruction, resulting in the loss of important antiques. In 2001, the Taliban destroyed two Buddhas in Afghanistan. This was a grave loss for archaeologists and it is telling of the devaluation of antiquities. Antiquities, according to Rose, are important because they inform our present and our future. This is why Rose made it his mission to preserve historical landmarks.
Rose met with archaeologists and Marines in order to teach them about the importance of antiquities, and the ways in which they can be protected. He asserted that there was a firm divide between academia and the military that was crucial to overcome. In fact, he learned that the Marines were hungry for knowledge, so he had the opportunity to advise them in how to preserve and identify landmarks in Afghanistan.
It is important, Rose asserts, to remember the past despite any troubles that it might cause to one’s ego. No matter how horrible it was, history still informs the present. It gives perspective to injustices that continue to plague the world, and it helps people deal with their deepest fears. When a historical artifact is lost, a culture loses a piece of their identity. Especially during a timein which nationalism is becoming more apparent, history is becoming increasingly important to the identity of respective nations. As such, it is crucial to ensure that we are doing our share in protecting historical evidence.
There was a decent turn out to the talk. Rose was able to effectively capture his audience, and he was convincing in his presentation. He made an audience that was comprised of mostly unknowledgeable people, and turned them into students who understand the power of tangible history.
First-year Shira Gould is a staff writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.