Revolution offers chance for Libyan archaeology

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Archaeology in Libya finally has a chance to flower. Research into and conservation of the country's rich cultural heritage could expand in the wake of this year's revolution, after decades of neglect by the Gaddafi regime, say scientists. But political and security uncertainties look set to delay the return of the foreign archaeologists needed to work with Libyans to develop their archaeological capacity.

Revamping its archaeology risks being a low priority for a country recovering from conflict, the fledging government of which must not only rebuild schools, hospitals and roads, but also create a democratic civil society. But researchers agree that there is an opportunity to begin planning how to reinforce Libya's archaeological base and develop plans that might attract domestic and international support.

"It is moments like these when big directions are taken by design or default, and those who care about heritage should aim for design," says William Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, a non-profit public-policy organization, who this month published an article calling for Libya to add protection and research of its heritage to its new constitution....

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