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Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage


International Workshop on Social and Economic Impacts of Heritage and its Potential for Development

On the 21st May 2018, an International Workshop as of the UCG-UKIERI Joint Research Programme, “Promoting Sustainable Pilgrimage and protection of Heritage sites in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, India” was held at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Co-organised between the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, University of Allahabad and the UNESCO Chair on Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage, Durham University, the theme of the International Workshop was “Social and Economic Impacts of Heritage and its Potential for Development”.

(4 Jun 2018) » More about workshop

Phase III of work in the Greater Lumbini Area approved by UNESCO

The Department of Archaeology of Nepal, and UNESCO signed an agreement, in the presence of Japanese Embassy, on 23 March 2018 to implement the third phase of the three-year project, titled “Strengthening conservation and management of Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, World Heritage property" funded by the Government of Japan.

(5 Apr 2018) » More about Phase III

Excavations at Tilaurakot end with our inaugural Heritage Festival

The 2018 field season at tilaurakot came to a close at the end of February with the hosting of our first ever Heritage Festival.  The day long festival started at 10am in the morning and finished at 4.30pm with a public debriefing meeting which also officially concluded the field season.

(1 Mar 2018) » More about Heritage Festival

Visitor Surveys at Durham World Heritage Site

For the last two weeks we have been joined by Amit Singh, an undergraduate student from the University of Allahabad. He has been working with undergraduates from Durham University interviewing visitors to Durham Castle about the reasons behind their visit, and their economic spend in the area. This work mirrors that which we have been doing in India to Promote Sustainable Pilgrimage and Protect Heritage, as part of a broader program to benchmark the social and economic impacts of heritage in the region. The work here in Durham will be supplemented by similar visitor interviews at the World Heritage Site of Champaner-Pavagadh in Gujarat and at Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh.

(20 Nov 2017) » More about Visitor Surveys

Donation received from the Panditarama Lumbini International Vipassana Meditation Centre for further work in Lumbini

During the recent AHRC-GCRF-sponsored 'Heritage at Risk 2017: Pathways to the Protection and Rehabilitation of Cultural Heritage in South Asia ' Workshop in Kathmandu with partners Department of Archaeology (Government of Nepal), UNESCO (Kathmandu) and ICOMOS (Nepal), we benefitted from presentations from an extremely diverse range of heritage stakeholders from across South Asia. These included presentations from two members of the Panditarama Lumbini International Vipassana Meditation Centre in Lumbini's Sacred Garden. Venerable Vivekananda on the topic 'Environmental Issues and Protection in Lumbini' and Venerable Sayalay Daw Bhaddamanika on 'Pathways to the Protection of Sacred Heritage'. 

(28 Sep 2017) » More about Donation

UNESCO Chair awarded British Academy Cities and Infrastructure Award

The British Academy has announced the successful applicants to its new Cities & Infrastructure research funding programme. The programme is part of the £1.5 billion Global Challenges Research Fund and is being delivered by the British Academy on behalf of all the national academies. Altogether, the Academy will support thirteen interdisciplinary research projects, with awards of up to £300,000 each. One of these awards has gone to the UNESCO Chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage for Reducing Disaster Risk to Life and Livelihoods by Evaluating the Seismic Safety of Kathmandu's Historic Urban Infrastructure

(28 Sep 2017) » More about Cities and Infrastructure Grant

'Sketches of Nipal: A brief outline of the European ‘discovery’ of Nepal' by Charles Allen

6pm, 28th September 2017, Elvet Hill House, DH1 3TH

Charles Allen, author of Plain Tales from the Raj: images of British India in the twentieth century (1975), The Buddha and Dr Fuhrer: an archaeological scandal (2008) and The Prisoner of Kathmandu: Brian Hodgson in Nepal 1820-1823 (2015), summarises the political, scholarly and archaeological background to the AHRC-GCRF exhibition ‘Resilience within the Rubble: reconstructing the Kasthamandap and its past after the 2015 Nepal earthquake’.

(14 Sep 2017) » More about Talk by Charles Allen

Resilience within the Rubble: a photographic exhibition

The Oriental Museum is hosting a photographic exhibition based on the UNESCO Chair research in the Kathmandu Valley, and in particular the Kasthamandap Temple. The exhibition runs from 29 September 2017 to 28 January 2018 at the Oriental Museum. 

(11 Sep 2017) » More about Resilience within the Rubble

Students from MSU Baroda join Nevern Castle excavations

As part of the new UKIERI-UGC project Promoting Sustainable Pilgrimage and the Protection of Heritage Sites in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, India two students from MSU Baroda joined the Durham team excavated at Nevern Castle. 

(1 Jul 2017) » More about MSU Baroda Students

New fieldwork at Jaffna

The pilot season of fieldwork at Jaffna Fort in northern Sri Lanka began in late June. Supported by a British Academy Small Grant, the project aims to provide scientifically dated sequences for the site, which can then be linked to artefactual typologies from published site reports in Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean region. 

(21 Jun 2017) » More about New fieldwork at Jaffna

Durham University UNESCO Chair receives a gift of 20 million Yen

The UNESCO Chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Archaeology receives Donation of 20 million Yen from Mr Tokushin Kasai to continue research on sites associated with the life of the Buddha.

(5 May 2017) » More about Kasai donation to Durham University

Phase II of fieldwork in the Natal Landscape of the Buddha comes to a close

The fourth season of UNESCO-coordinated fieldwork at Tilaurakot came to a close in March. 

(1 Mar 2017) » More about Tilaurakot 2017

UNESCO Chair awarded £117,000 to promote sustainable pilgrimage and protect heritage in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, India

Durham’s UNESCO Chair and the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda have been awarded £117,298 by UGC-UKIERI for a three year collaborative program of research. 

(24 Jan 2017) » More about UGC-UKIERI project

Kathmandu Excavations 2016

The UNESCO Chair team and their collaborators are underway in Kathmandu. The work focuses on post-earthquake research and rescue excavations at Kasthmandap and other temples in the city. You can follow the progress of the team on the blog, as well as on twitter and instagram

(15 Nov 2016)

Second phase of work begins at Kasthamandap in Kathmandu

The UNESCO Chair has started it's second phase of post-earthquake rescue and research work in the Kathamndu Valley, focusing on the Kasthamandap temple in Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square. Prof Coningham and Dr Davis, along with colleagues from elsewhere in Durham, Stirling, Vienna and La Trobe are working alongside the Department of Archaeology, UNESCO and local government agencies. the work is sponsored by the Arts and Humanties Research Council and National Geographic. Read the full press release below.

(14 Nov 2016) » More about More work in Kasthamandap

Two new grants awarded to UNESCO Chair from AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund

Prof Robin Coningham has been awarded two new grants from the AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund to continue work in Nepal. 

(12 Oct 2016) » More about New UNESCO Chair grants

UNESCO Chair team conduct more fieldwork at Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

In July 2016 the UNESCO Chair team from Durham worked alongisde the Central Cultural Fund in continued excavations at the World Hertiage Site of Polonnaruva. Joined by colleagues from the Department of Archaeology (Govt of Nepal), LaTrobe University, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and the University of Stirling, the project continued its excavations of Siva Devale No. 2, opened a new trench across the citadel fortification wall and conducted further hinterland field survey to identify new sites in the landscape.

(1 Aug 2016) » More about Fieldwork at Polonnaruva

Irina Bokova visits Lumbini and Kathmandu

Robin Coningham has been in Nepal for the last week as part of the visit of Irina Bokova (the Director-General of UNESCO) to key heritage sites in Nepal. Ms Bokova visited both Lumbini, recognised as the birthplace of the Buddha, where the UNESCO Chair team worked from 2011 to 2014. Prof Coningham personally gave a tour of the site to Ms Bokova, showcasing the work conducted at the site by Durham University, the Lumbini Development Trust and the Department of Archaeology (Govt of Nepal). 

(25 Apr 2016) » More about Irina Bokova visit

Nepal Earthquakes: One Year On

For the past year, archaeologists from Durham University have been working with local counterparts to map and evaluate the damage caused by the 2015 earthquakes to UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal. Led by Professor Robin Coningham, who holds Durham’s UNESCO Chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage, the team applied a multidisciplinary study of Kathmandu’s Hanumandhoka, Bhaktapur and Patan Durbar Squares using geophysics, excavation and geoarchaeology.

(13 Apr 2016) » More about Nepal Earthquakes

IMEMS Durham World Heritage Site 2016 Lecture: 'Ships of Gold': UNESCO, Pilgrimage and Preservation in South Asia

This lecture will be delivered by Professor Robin Coningham (Durham University) on Thursday 4th February at 5.30pm in the Learning Centre at Palace Green Library. The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in the Cafe at Palace Green Library. 

(28 Jan 2016) » More about DWHS Lecture

UNESCO launch their report on Post-Disaster Rescue Archaeology Mission

UNESCO sponsored a multidisciplinary team, to undertake a rescue archaeology mission prior to reconstruction, between 5 October and 22 November 2015, targeting various monument zones across the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage property. The mission illustrated the role that archaeology can play in guiding post-disaster responses to reconstruction and rehabilitation of earthquake damaged heritage.

(12 Jan 2016) » More about Report on Mission

More Fieldwork at the Tentative World Heritage Site of Tilaurakot & at the World Heritage Site of Pashupati (Kathmandu Valley)

The UNESCO Chair team have jetted off to Nepal for the fifth season of fieldwork at Tilaurakot (the childhood home of the Buddha), and the third season of field activities at Pashupati in Kathmandu. 

(8 Jan 2016) » More about New Field Seasons at Tilaurakot and Pashupati

Professor Coningham is attending the First Co-Ordination Meeting of UNESCO Category 2 Institutes and Centres, UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks related to UNESCO’s Cultural Sector’ at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris

Professor Robin Coningham, UNESCO Chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage at Durham University, attended UNESCO’s ‘First Co-Ordination Meeting of UNESCO Category 2 Institutes and Centres, UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks related to UNESCO’s Cultural Sector’ at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

(14 Dec 2015) » More about Co-ordination Meeting

The Nepal Earthquakes: research and rescue excavations at the UNESCO World Heritage properties of Kathmandu

A new exhibition will be held at the Durham World Hertiage Site Visitor Centre from the 2nd November until the 27th November 2015, which outlines the work Durham and the UNESCO Chair has been involved with, and some of the philosophical debates that are emerging from within it. 

(1 Nov 2015) » More about New Exhibition on the Nepal Earthquakes

Rescue excavations led by Durham team begin in Kathmandu

A collaborative team of international and national experts from the Department of Archaeology, Government of Nepal and Durham University, has started a series of post-excavation surveys and rescue excavations at earthquake-damaged UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal.

(10 Oct 2015) » More about Rescue excavations in Kathmandu

New fieldwork at Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

A new archaeological field project has begun at Polonnaruva, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka from AD1017-1293 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The projects aims to conduct archaeological excavations in the urban core whilst simultaneously undertaking an intensive systematic survey of sites within the city's hinterland. The pilot season of fieldwork ran from the 26th August to the 18th September 2015, supported by a British Academy Small Grants award of £10,000. 

(19 Sep 2015) » More about Fieldwork at Polonnaruva

Nepal Earthquake: update on the current state of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu Valley

At 11.56 NST on the 25th April a 7.8 Magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. Its epicentre focused on Gorkha District and caused widespread death and destruction in the city of Kathmandu and villages between Kathmandu and Pokhara. Impacting neighbouring areas of India, China and Bangladesh, the death toll in Nepal has already passed 5000 and is expected to rise over the coming days as additional information is received from rural areas which are currently inaccessible. 

(30 Apr 2015) » More about Nepal Earthquake

Visiting CECH Fellows

CECH has two Visiting Fellows joining from India who will be spending time in the Department of Archaeology and attending Thursdays workshop on Managing World Heritage.

(9 Mar 2015) » More about Visiting CECH Fellows

IAS Workshop: Revisiting Durham’s World Heritage

CECH will be jointly hosting a workshop with the Institutue of Advanced Studies as part of its British Council India project.

(3 Mar 2015) » More about IAS Workshop

Upcoming talks on Nepal research

Robin Coningham is involved in a series of upcoming talks relating to the ongoing research in Nepal: at the International Buddhist Conference held in Lumbini between the 13th and 18th November; and at SOAS on November 19th

(9 Sep 2014) » More about Nepal Talks

New field project begins at Pashupati in the Kathmandu Valley


New fieldwork began at the sacred site of Pashupati in the Kathmandu Valley in order to evaluate and interpret the archaeological signature of the site, evalaute the social and economic impact of the site on the surrounidng communities, and help develop an integrated management plan for the future protection of its cultural heritage. 

(3 Aug 2014) » More about Pashupati

New CECH project funded by the British Council

Durham Cathedral

A new project funded by the British Council Knowledge Economy Partnership was awarded to Durham University. The new project - Benchmarking the Social and Economic Impacts of Cultural Heritage: a comparative pilot study - aims to establish a series of benchmarks in order to monitor the economic and social impact of cultural heritage sites on the communities within which they are situated within South Asia. At Durham the project is being overseen by Prof Robin Coningham and Dr Mark Manuel, working in collaboration with Prof Krishnan Krishnan at MSU Baroda. Read more on the project page

(1 Jun 2014)

New fieldwork at childhood home of the Buddha begins


The first season of fieldwork began at Tilaurakot, an archaeological site associated with the early life of the Buddha, and currently on the World Heritage Tentative List. Funded by the Japanese-Funds-in-Trust through UNESCO, Durham University is working alongside the Department of Archeology (Govt of Nepal), the Lumbini Development Trust and other UNESCO experts to develop a better understanding of the archaeological signature of the site, develop strategies for conservation, aid future management of the site and help develop capacity building for the long-term benefit of the site. 

(1 Mar 2014) » More about New work at Tilaurakot

Anuradhapura Monograph and Lumbini article published

Volume III of the Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka) Project has been published, which details the archaeological signature of the broader landscape surrounding the World Hertiage Site of Anuradhapura, a major centre of Buddhist pilgrimage. This is the culmination of six years of fieldwork between 2004 and 2009 whch was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. More information on the project can be found on the website

(30 Nov 2013) » More about New Publications

Professor Alison Wylie joins CECH and UNESCO publish Lumbini Report

Professor Alison M. Wylie joined the Department of Philosophy and the Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage.

UNESCO Kathmandu Office published the Final Report of Phase I of the JFIT Project Strengthening conservation and management of Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, World Heritage Property, which CECH members have played a significant role. 

(10 Oct 2013) » More about Wylie joins CECH

Heritage Impact Assessment undertaken in Bangladesh by Durham University


CECH members Robin Coningham and Mark Manuel, in conjunction with Durham University's Archaeological Services, have returned from Bangladesh where they were undertaking archaeological Heritage Impact Assessments at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Bagerhat, Paharpur and the tentative World Hertiage Site of Mahasthangarh. 

(15 Sep 2013) » More about Bangladesh