More than Vandalism: Destruction of Cultural Heritage

19-22 October, 2022, at Wasem Kloster Engelthal

The destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas, the blasting of the Baal temple of Palmyra and the demolition of mosques and tombs at Timbuktu are shocking recent examples of deliberate destruction of cultural heritage. International conventions define offenses against cultural property as aggression on human heritage in general. Attacks on cultural heritage threaten the identity of those for whom this heritage is relevant. Protection of Cultural Heritage is thus closely related to the protection of Human Rights.

The destruction of Cultural Heritage is no new phenomenon: it goes back far in human history and had been defended or even praised. By the destruction of images of gods and saints, by scratching their eyes or breaking their statues their power should be broken. This happened during Christian iconoclasm as well as during temple desecrations in India or after the fall of once mighty empires during the ages. Palaces and Images of rulers were destroyed to symbolize their downfall. Works of art were destroyed not only as a result of political or religious changes or conflicts, but also for conflicting esthetical views.

Participants at the event will deal with issues as diverse as the mutilation of images during and after wars, Christian and Islamic Iconoclasm, incidents of damnatio memoriae in different ancient societies, the delegitimization and destruction of art in modern totalitarian systems, the importance of cultural memory or the development of international law for the protection of cultural heritage.

Scientific Organizer:

Univ. Prof. Dr. Alexander Pruß


Event Manager: Kumi-Raine Kost