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14 March 2004
'Archaeo-Astronomical sites and observatories' meeting in Venice

Last November, the new UNESCO World Heritage Thematic Programme 'Archaeo-Astronomical Sites and Observatories', was officially announced by Anna Sidorenko, WHC Assistant Programme Specialist, who is responsible for this Programme, in the presence of Magda Stavinschi, Director of the Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy, and Regina Durighello of ICOMOS. Dr Christoforos Mallouris, astrophysicist, WHC consultant, presented an analysis of the archaeo-astronomical sites inscribed on the World Heritage List and tentative lists, carried out with support of the Government of the Netherlands.
     Archaeo-Astronomical Sites and Observatories’ is the first programme at UNESCO to link the study of astronomy with cultural sites and monuments around the world which have been devoted to the explanation of the universe and humankind’s relationship to the sky. Some examples of archaeo- astronomical sites on the World Heritage List are: the Temple of the Sun in Teotihuacan (Mexico), the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (Peru), Stonehenge (United Kingdom) and the Ulugh-Beg Observatory at Samarkand (Uzbekistan).
     An initial expert mission to Africa, where archeo-astronomical sites are not well-known, is in preparation. A meeting of international experts is to be organized from 17–19 March 2004 in Venice, Italy, with the support of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science in Europe. The main goal of the meeting will be to define the strategy of the thematic programme and a methodology which will aid States Parties in choosing archeo-astronomical sites and observatories.
     For additional info, contact Anna Sidorenko (a.sidorenko@unesco.org)

Source: UNESCO Office Venice (March 2004)

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