Paris, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Paris-based UN educational and scientific body UNESCO on Monday unveiled the list of projetcs on best practices for the protection of underwater cultural heritage, which includes schemes from France, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia and Mexico.
"Designated on the recommendation of UNESCO's Scientific and Technical Advisory Board (STAB), best practice examples are projects presented by States Parties that promote responsible public access to underwater cultural heritage, promote scientific research and ensure the sustainable management of archaeological sites," UNESCO said in a statement.
The projects, which entered Best Practices Register for Underwater Cultural Heritage Protection, are France's excavation, reconstruction, restoration and presentation to the public of the Barge Arles-Rhône, underwater cultural heritage in the Chinchorro Bank from Mexico, subaquatic archaeological charter of the Azores from Portugal, Slovenia's the Ljubljanica river phenomenon and the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes Project (Spain).
"By designating these best practices, UNESCO promotes concrete and directly applicable solutions for the protection of underwater heritage. I call on all states and stakeholders concerned to draw inspiration from them to amplify the drive to protect these remains, which bear the memory of our human history," said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
Adopted in 2001, the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage aims to provide better protection for the millions of wrecks and historic remains preserved on the seabed, and halt looting and increasing destruction of underwater heritage.
The Convention also targets to promote public access to this heritage and to encourage archaeological research. To date, it has been ratified by 61 States, according to the statement.
Zhengzhou, June 25 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Senior Chinese archaeologists have evaluated astronomical relics discovered in central China's Henan Province as the country's earliest evidence for "observing the images and giving time," advancing history by nearly 1,000 years.
Archaeologists found the "Big Dipper Nine Stars" marker at the 5,000-year-old Qingtai Ruins in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital. The size of the nine objects is basically the same as the actual brightness of the celestial body.
More than 30 astronomers, historians and archaeologists from the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Institute of History of Natural Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the National Palace Museum were invited to the site to give their evaluations of the ruins last week.
They believe the astronomical relics and the surrounding sacrificial remains constitute a whole, which is consistent with the records of the "Winter Solstice Sacrifice" in ancient Chinese documents. It is of great significance to the study of early Chinese astronomy and the origin of Chinese civilization.
The experts said the relic indicates that the ancestors of Qingtai had some astronomical knowledge, and the worship of the celestial body may have formed a grand sacrificial ceremony for observing the solar terms and praying for a good harvest.
Gu Wanfa, president of the Zhengzhou Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, said that Qingtai is a large-scale trench settlement in the Yangshao Culture period, with a total area of about 310,000 square meters.
He said nine pottery pots were arranged in the "Big Dipper Nine Stars" pattern. They were surrounded by urn coffins of the same period, tombs, mortars and sacrificial pits of different periods and other related relics.
Previous to Qingtai, the Taosi Observatory in Xiangfen County, northern China's Shanxi Province, of 4,200 years ago, represented the earliest evidence in the study of the astronomical calendar in ancient China.
The experts suggested researching the relationship between the two astronomical relics and functions of the relics.
Syria, June 23 (Xinhua/UNB) -- After the war in the Syrian northern city of Aleppo broke out, Zakaraia Qarkoush, carrying his pottery craft, escaped to the central city of Homs.
Ahead of the war, there were 13 pottery factories in Aleppo. However, the raging war has destroyed the factories and displaced the people.
Qarkoush, who inherited pottery craft from his father and grandfather, sought refuge in Homs, where the situation was relatively safer.
The passion for the craft that Qarkoush developed as a boy is the source of his survival because he wants to keep doing what he loves.
"We have inherited this job from our grandfathers and I have been working for 35 years," he said.
According to the 43-year-old craftsman, he left Aleppo with his children seven years ago and settled in the Ashirah area where the children started to learn and help him in his pottery work.
It took him two years in Homs to ponder over what to do before he finally realized that his original job was the only thing he really wanted to take.
"When the crisis erupted in Aleppo, we got displaced and came to Homs. I didn't want to leave this job because I love it so I worked in pottery in Homs with my children," he explained.
The man started making small pottery in a small workshop before his business got bigger.
In his current workshop, Qarkoush has a room for making the clay into different shapes such as vessels, water pots as well as artistic waterfalls which people buy to be displayed in their salons or the living room.
He brings the soft clay and put it on a machine while he is gently touching the clay from different angles to shape it before it gets hard.
Later, he puts it in an oven-like chamber and then in a sunny room for drying. Afterward, he brings it to a damp room for a few hours before selling.
Qarkoush said he was amazed by the high demand for pottery in Homs where the only pottery factory was destroyed during the war, which makes him the only man making pottery there.
"There is a big turnout for this kind of art here in Homs," he told Xinhua.
The craftsman said the war has largely affected pottery in Syria, adding besides his workshop, there is only one pottery factory in the capital Damascus and another in Latakia Province in northwestern Syria.
In Aleppo alone, 13 pottery factories stopped working during the war, he lamented.
"Now, I am alone here in Homs in addition to a factory in Damascus and Latakia. The war has largely affected our work because out of 100 professionals ahead of the war, there are now only 15 across Syria," Qarkoush said.
The Syrian man now works with his young children whom he taught throughout the past years in Homs.
However, he still believes that "as long as people are demanding this craft and as long as children are willing and having the passion to learn it, the craft will survive."
Beijing, June 22 (Xinhua/UNB)-- An exhibition of British illustrator Anthony Browne's paintings opened at the National Museum of Classic Books in Beijing Saturday.
The exhibition "Anthony Browne's Happy Museum" displays 162 original paintings and offers multimedia interaction.
The sponsor will also hold lectures and illustration painting classes during the exhibition.
Anthony Browne is a writer and illustrator of children's books and his works have been translated into 26 languages since 1976 when his first picture book was published.
The exhibition will travel across China until Sept. 22.
Lhasa, June 21 (Xinhua/UNB) -- An art museum dedicated to stone carvings has opened in the city of Xigaze in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.
The museum, the first of its kind in Tibet, features more than 60 original stone carving works and reproductions, 30 rubbings, as well as over 20 stone carving crafts, showcasing the art form in Tibet from the seventh to the 19th century.
"In Tibet, stone carving art is widespread and has a long history," said Kalwang, an official with the Xigaze cultural bureau. "With great historic, artistic and scientific value, these splendid stone carving works are a window into the traditional and ethnic culture of Tibet."
The opening of the museum is the culmination of years of efforts by Tibet’s art researchers on surveying, collecting and preserving artworks of stone carvings.
"Most of the stone carvings in Tibet were engraved on slates or precipices and were vulnerable to damage and erosion," said Kalwang. "We opened the museum to raise people’s awareness on preserving stone carvings, hoping to keep the art form alive."