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Hamilton College

Publication Date

Spring 2007

Program Name

Ethiopia: Sacred Traditions and Visual Culture

Abstract

The powerful Aksumite civilization left behind a great deal of archaeological material in the north of Ethiopia, but current cultural heritage preservation in the modern town is rudimentary. The government, realizing the potential for cultural heritage as an economic resource, has enlisted the work of a number of heritage management experts to not only improve heritage preservation in Aksum but also involve the local community to a greater extent. Especially noteworthy is the construction of a new museum in Aksum to replace the old, insufficient museum. Planners have been striving not only to improve preservation system and the tourism industry, but also to make the new museum a community center sponsoring events and other programs to enrich the lives of Aksum residents and make them feel more connected to their ancient heritage and concerned about its preservation. Interviews with Aksum community members provide insight into perspectives on cultural heritage management, the importance of preserving tradition, what traditions mean for tourism, and the potential success or failure of the new museum within the community. A less than committed Ministry of Culture and Tourism creates worry that the museum will not stay dynamic and make efforts to provide residents with enrichment, resources, and education. Nevertheless, Aksum residents are proud of their heritage and excited about the new facility; only time will tell whether the community can become more involved with their own heritage in the future.

Disciplines

Historic Preservation and Conservation

 

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