Cul­tural relics not an en­emy to bull­doz­ers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - HUN­DREDS OF

an­cient Chi­nese tombs dat­ing more than 2,000 years were dis­cov­ered dur­ing the con­struc­tion of a city square in Ruzhou, Cen­tral China’s He­nan prov­ince. How­ever, the con­struc­tion work con­tin­ued and soon turned into a real es­tate de­vel­op­ment project. Bei­jing Times com­mented on Tues­day:

He­nan is among the rich­est prov­inces when it comes to an­cient cul­tural her­itage, but the dis­cov­ery of the an­cient tombs dat­ing back to the West­ern and East­ern Han dy­nas­ties (206 BC – 220) was ap­par­ently not good news to the real es­tate de­vel­oper, which de­spite be­ing fined 400,000 yuan ($57,000) and or­dered to sus­pend con­struc­tion, car­ried on with the work.

Most de­vel­op­ers take out huge loans for a project. This means even a day’s de­lay is another day of in­ter­est that has to be paid. In this sense, ex­plo­ration of the an­cient tombs would have been a heavy fi­nan­cial bur­den for the de­vel­oper.

And for many, arche­ol­ogy is a “use­less sci­ence”, as they can­not see that it de­liv­ers any tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits. The pro­tec­tion of cul­tural relics thus has of­ten had to give way to de­vel­op­ment.

But the ul­ti­mate sig­nif­i­cance of arche­ol­ogy is it tells us about the past and how peo­ple lived in an­cient times. From this point of view, archaeology serves to en­lighten the present. When the tombs were un­cov­ered, their sig­nif­i­cance sur­passed a de­lay to a de­vel­op­ment project.

In or­der to bet­ter pro­tect cul­tural relics, the na­tional level cul­tural relics pro­tec­tion mech­a­nism should up­grade its ef­fi­ciency, so more of the na­tion’s past is not lost to the bull­doz­ers of de­vel­op­ers.

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