Prehistoric Moroccan heritage honoured at UNESCO

RABAT – Morocco and UNESCO have partnered to preserve its prehistoric heritage that makes the country a renowned cradle of humankind.

The North Africa country has been driven by a deep desire to ensure that it highlight the various categories of its multi-millennial heritage and to make an effective intellectual contribution to the concept of heritage of humanity.

The Kingdom of Morocco’s launch of the exhibition and symposium on June 17 at the UNESCO headquarters of in Paris, placed under the patronage of King Mohammed VI.

The participation of researchers and specialists in prehistoric sciences from various Moroccan and international academic institutions added to the fanfare of the launch.

Morocco’s Minister of Youth, Culture and Communication –
Mohamed Mehdi Bensaid – and the Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, were joined at the lauch by the advisor to HM the King, André Azoulay, the Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Morocco to the UN organization, Samir Addahre, Morocco ambassador to Paris, Mohamed Benchaaboune, and the President of the National Foundation of Museums of Morocco, Mehdi Qotbi.

The opening of the exhibition and symposium, intended to present the richness and diversity of the Kingdom’s prehistoric heritage and highlight recent archaeological discoveries. It was also attended by ambassadors of several countries to UNESCO, personalities from the of the arts and culture and a host of researchers and specialists in prehistoric sciences.

UNESCO Director General Azoulay stressed the importance of the international event of prehistory that continues to “question what we are, what we have in common, our place in the scale of time and in the scale of life”.

Congratulating Morocco for this initiative, Azoulay said she was “very pleased that this high-level scientific dialogue is being held at UNESCO in a field of study and research that is booming and needs international perspectives”.

“This field also needs to cross disciplines to advance knowledge, because prehistory, which is a heritage of humanity, is far from being a frozen and mythical moment” added the top UN official. She welcomed the Kingdom’s support for UNESCO’s efforts in the various areas of its competence, including hosting several forums and conferences, including the 7th International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VII), recently held in Marrakech.

The Director General further announced the upcoming annual conference on intangible heritage of UNESCO, at the invitation of the Kingdom.

For his part, Mr Bensaid noted that throughout the day, researchers, experts and scientists discussed the heritage treasure that makes Morocco a cradle of humanity.

“In Morocco, if we are proud of the archaeological discoveries that we present today, we are also aware of the scientific challenges they represent and the problems posed by their preservation (…) and the stake they symbolize, allowing us to read entire chapters of the history of humanity and the world”, he said.

These are, according to the minister, “priceless” findings, which leave to posterity unique messages, left hundreds of thousands of years ago by the societies of Homo Sapiens the oldest known to date.

He added that the past is disintegrating, and its materiality, often gives way to oblivion or destruction and leaving only disparate prints, hence the importance of such symposiums and this exhibition that offer a counter-plunge into the heart of this very distant past.

“It remains necessary to understand how a species, Homo Sapiens, has managed to rise and build a civilization by writing its own history, ours”, said the minister.

According to the Minister, for the Kingdom, it is a priority “to ensure that this flame illuminate the paths that lead to our collective memory, without ever losing sight of the permanence of things.”

He noted it is up to current generations to transmit, to preserve intact this prehistoric heritage, which has crossed the time for future generations.

It is against this background that the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Communication, under the enlightened leadership of King Mohammed VI, ”makes every effort to advance research, to act in support of researchers and to protect our heritage assets,” said the minister.

“At a time when certain forces are attacking history, destroying the common human heritage, excommunicating its defenders, taking hostage the world’s heritage, our action is necessary, essential : this is the humanity that resists barbarism, the lights to obscurantism, “, he insisted.

And to add that it is “an indelible commitment that we take, in favour of peace, tolerance, diversity, and through them, in the service of the values of progress, for the future and for posterity”.

On the same occasion, Morocco donated to UNESCO replicas of the skull of the oldest Homo Sapiens in the world that is 350 thousand years ago. It was discovered in Jebel Ochoud in Youssoufia.

It further donated the oldest pieces of jewellery in the world dating back 142 to 150 thousand years, discovered in the Bizmoune cave in Essaouira.

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