Asia’s architectural treasures ‘vanishing’
Asia’s architectural treasures, from a Buddhist monastery in
Afghanistan, an ancient city in China and other Asian architectural
treasures are in danger of vanishing under a tide of economic expansion,
war and tourism, experts said Thursday.
Taxila, Buddhist monastery complex
Mes Aynak, Afghan Buddhist monastery complex
The Global Heritage Fund named 10 sites as the most in danger of
“irreparable loss and destruction.” “These 10 sites represent merely a
fragment of the endangered treasures across Asia and the rest of the
developing world,” the fund’s executive director Jeff Morgan said in
presenting a report.
The architectural gems from across Asia’s ancient and sophisticated
cultures are struggling in the face of economic expansion, sudden floods
of tourists and areas of lawlessness and war. “We’re looking at these
millennial civilizations leapfrogging into the 21st century at a kind of
pace that is unheard of, unprecedented,” said Vishakha Desai, president
of the Asia Society, which hosted a conference based on the report.
Experts said that architectural preservation has nowhere near the
financial and political backing that nature conservancy enjoys.
“Heritage is being dramatically undervalued. Thus, the reinvestment
and the focus on heritage is lacking today,” Morgan said, warning that
the endangered sites were doomed without quick help.
“We’re going to lose them on our watch in the next 10 years.” Shirley
Young, head of the US-China Cultural Institute, stressed that it was
“not really just about beautiful buildings, beautiful sites.” “I think
we’d agree,” she said, “that a world without history is a world without
soul.” The top 10 endangered sites, according to the Global Heritage
1. Ayutthaya in Thailand, a former Siamese capital known as the
‘Venice of the East.’
2. Fort Santiago in the Philippines.
Ayutthaya historical park
3. Kashgar, one of the last preserved Silk Road cities in China.
4. Mahasthangarh, one of South Asia’s earliest archeological sites in
5. Mes Aynak, Afghan Buddhist monastery complex on the Silk Road.
6. Myauk-U, capital of the first Arakanese kingdom in Myanmar.
7. Plain of Jars, a mysterious megalithic site in Laos.
8. Preah Vihear, a Khmer architectural masterpiece in Cambodia.
9. Rakhigarhi, one of the biggest, ancient Indus civilization sites
10. Taxila, an ancient economic crossroads in Pakistan.