UNESCO was created to protect World Heritage sites, in order to “promote peace and harmony within nations” (lecture). Its intriguing to discover that these heritage sites are also destroyed, to inflict some type of purpose. The destruction of heritage sites tends to be a product of wars between nations, and political contradictions. Destroying heritage sites can be used as a great weapon because “ even a single act of destruction can come to be known and have repercussions throughout the world.”(Viego-Rose 54)
The Buddhas of Bamiyan were one of the heritage sites to be the victims of destruction. The Buddhas of Bamiyan are statues located in the Bamiyan Valley, in Afghanistan. Archeologist believe the statues were establish by the Buddhist monks. They were carve into the mountain around the 6th century. There were numerous tries to destroy the statues. Aurangzeb, a Mughal emperor, attempted to destroy the statues by using heavy artillery. The statues were, sadly, eventually destroyed by the Taliban on March 2001.
“Heritage itself contains contradictions and has to manage conflicting needs. Heritage sites represent a conglomerate of symbols and narratives…,”(Viego-Rose 55) which is why the Taliban found it necessary to dispose of the statues. They thought it would be a reasonable and affective way to send a message. This helps us acknowledge the fact that people can use our heritage against us. Even though the destruction of the Buddhas was a great lost, in some way, it brought people together to reconstruct the statues. It also made the intangible heritage of the site stronger.
Something extraordinary with the destruction of world heritage sites is, that at times, when a site is purposely destroyed the intangible heritage is still there. The intangible heritage can even be made stronger because of the destruction that took place there. The Market Place at Warsaw was destroyed by the German Army, during World War Two (lecture). Even though Warsaw was completely destroyed, it was rebuilt, and still allowed to become a world heritage site. The reason for this, could be, because of the intangible heritage it developed because of how it was affected by World War Two. “War not only destroys heritage, it transforms, adds new meaning, and even engenders new heritage.”(Viego-Rose 57)
Heritage has been the subject of destruction, due to wars and political clash. The attempts to destroy material heritage, have been most of the time successful. Intangible heritage, on the other hand, is nearly impossible to destroy. Even if the material form of heritage is destroyed, the intangible form is still there, and at times made stronger. The destruction of world heritage represents the struggle to preserve these sites. It also conveys the notion that intangible heritage is stronger, and more reliable than tangible heritage.