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The World's Ancient Civilizations Protection Forum held at the Palace Museum reached a successful conclusion on 20 October 2016. Over forty delegates including archaeologists, historians, and museum scholars from various countries—including China, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, and Mexico—were brought together for the two-day forum. The celebrated ancient civilizations of these eight countries was the focus ofextensive dialogues on topics such as urgent measures need for protecting and preserving the world’s ancient civilizations, strategies and future plans for exchanges on the heritage of ancient world civilizations, and challenges and opportunities in the protection and preservation of the world’s ancient civilizations.
During his keynote speech at the opening ceremony, Mr. Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, addressed the gathered scholars saying that for too longthe world’s ancient civilizations have faced two major threats: the savage destruction of warfare and the cultural conflicts raised by the trend of globalization. He noted that these factors create extreme challenges to preserve the common value of humanity.
The forum was collaboratively organized by the Palace Museum and the Palace Museum Cultural Relics Protection Foundation and was co-organized by the Institute of Archaeology, the Society of Cultural Relics of China, and the Xinhua National Think Tank. The Ministry of Culture, Xinhua News, and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage provided necessary support for the international event.
The forum was aimed to study and discuss issues regarding the protection and preservation of the cultural heritage of the world’s ancient civilizations in a contemporary international context, to foster exchange among colleagues serving in the world’s cultural heritage field, and to maintain the influence of ancient civilizations on the current development of humanity.
The Declaration of the Supreme Harmony, or Taihe xuanyan, was drafted and signed during the forum. The full text is as follows:
The Declaration of Supreme Harmony
We objectively judge these historical facts known to people throughout the world: continuously inheriting humanity’s historical civilization is an important driving force in promoting cultural prosperity and peaceful development around the world, and protecting and developing the world’s cultural heritage plays a major part in boosting international cultural exchanges and shaping a nation’s memory and identity.
We clearly recognize the problems facing efforts to inherit historical civilization: wars cause barbarous destruction, threatening the existence of ancient civilizations; the tide of globalization has intensified cultural conflicts, jeopardizing the path of cultural heritage preservation; and throughout history the irresistible power of natural disasters has posed dangers.
We agree that effectively protecting and inheriting historical civilizations is essential to contemporary world peace and human progress: the prosperity and development of world cultures is vividly reflected in diversity; the multiple forms of national arts are truly showcased in equality; and the all-encompassing nature of human civilizations is ideally captured in harmony.
Based on the aforementioned consensus, cultural representatives of China, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Mexico and other countries and scholars in fields including international monument and site conservation, international cultural heritage preservation and restoration, and international museum management have gathered at the Palace Museum for The World's Ancient Civilizations Protection Forum. We seek to join hands to deal with the problems facing the protection of world cultural heritage, and to discuss and explore effective and sustainable ways to pass on human civilizations. The Declaration is as follows:
The cultural heritage of countries with great ancient civilizations records the history of their development. It embodies the features, spirits and core values of these ancient civilizations. We appeal to countries with great ancient civilizations to take the lead in communicating with each other within the framework of worldwide cultural heritage preservation, and to hold a forum on cultural development in order to formulate a peaceful proposal for carrying forward the world’s ancient civilizations and to together call on the world to protect historic civilizations.
Through the long transformations of history, human beings have created rich and diverse civilizations that have integrated with each other, continuously developed, and left a great number of cultural sites, forming a wealth of magnificent images of history. We propose that countries with great ancient civilizations take the lead in cooperating within the strategic framework of national cultural development. This involves taking a firm step towards inheriting ancient civilizations and helping to build barrier-free communication channels between ancient civilizations by holding cultural heritage exhibitions and other similar activities.
Ancient civilizations can link the past with the present and inspire the future. Countries all over the world, especially those with time-honoured civilizations, can adopt wider temporal and spatial perspectives from which to review the unique significance of art and culture for communications between nations. We hope that, within the framework of global development and strategic cooperation, countries with great ancient civilizations will take the lead in interpreting and disseminating ancient civilizations and hosting academic symposiums and other similar activities. In this way we can stimulate trans-civilization dialogues and identification across national boundaries.
To truly fulfill the tasks and objectives of this Declaration, we promise that we will carry out in-depth research on the origin, development process and patterns of ancient civilizations, and intensify efforts to understand the flourishing path of connection, mutual learning and mutual benefit. We also promise that we will more deeply explore the forms and patterns of exchange and cooperation between ancient civilizations and do our best to realize the common dreams of cultural confidence, inclusiveness and rejuvenation.