Last week, I attended a talk hosted by Dr. Omur Harmansah, an Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago. The talk was called “Ruined Gardens of Babylon,” and he discussed the dark ecology and heritage politics of the Middle East in his work as an archeologist. The talk was incredibly eye opening. There are multiple factors which have significantly impacted Dr. Harmansah’s work as an archeologist. For one, global warming has caused irreversible damage to our environment and archeological landscape, and therefore significantly impacts the ways in which him and his team are able to interact with the sites that they visit, and the sites themselves have changed drastically as a result of human activity in the twentieth century.
In addition to global warming, violence and terrorism have also unfortunately significantly impacted these incredibly precious and sacred archeological sites. ISIS has destroyed numerous archeological sites for the sake of promoting and protecting their political narrative, sacrificing ancient cultures and artifacts that have survived for thousands of years. Because of these environmental and political factors and their influence on landscape archeology, the ways in which we engage with our political leaders is incredibly important. If we engage and communicate with leaders who’s priorities are environmental protection and are looking to put a stop to organizations such as ISIS, then we will be better able to engage with the ancient civilizations that are at risk of being destroyed by the world around us.