Heritage Watch is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Southeast Asia’s cultural heritage.
Cambodia is famed for the temples of Angkor but little is known of how these temples came to be. The secrets to the rise of Angkor are to be found in the lesser known temples and the countless prehistoric settlements and cemeteries across Cambodia.
Heritage Watch was founded in 2003 as a result of a sharp increase in the destruction of Cambodia’s precious cultural heritage - especially the looting of ancient temples and cemetery sites nationwide.
Heritage Watch is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the world, through research, education, and advocacy.
Its mandate is to:
- Study threats to cultural heritage, including the illicit trade in antiquities, the looting of archaeological sites, and loss of historic architecture, among others,
- Educate the public on the artistic, informational, historical, cultural, and economic importance of heritage resources,
- Increase access to and awareness of national and international law affecting cultural property, while working with the proper authorities to implement, enforce, and improve it,
- Promote responsible tourism that furthers cultural and economic development and encourage the tourism industry to support the arts, culture, heritage and development,
- Foster communication between relevant governmental and intergovernmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, and individuals.
Heritage Watch has undertaken a diverse range of projects aimed at both the supply and demand end of the international antiquities trade as well as promoting responsible tourism in Cambodia:
- Airport Kiosk
- DHARMA Legal Database
- Heritage Insights Program
- Heritage Watch Petition
- Save Face
- Reducing Supply
The trade in antiquities is a serious problem that confronts all nations. Unfortunately the problem has been highlighted in Southeast Asia, especially in Cambodia with the loss of many impressive Angkorian sculptures. This trade is not restricted to impressive sculptural pieces but also more portable artefacts such as glass and stone beads, prehistoric tools and ceramics. The theft of these artefacts is just as damaging as the removal of sculpture from temples.
The archaeological record is destroyed as sites are looted. All knowledge of where artefacts came from is lost. This problem is especially alarming in Cambodia where very little prehistoric archaeological research has been undertaken. Here we are losing the opportunity to understand the rise of the greatest historical power in the region.
The mission of HeritageWatch is clear, the cessation of the illegal antiquities trade in Southeast Asia. Looting is a poverty driven crime - if you truly value Cambodian art, the worst thing you can do is buy it. Heritage Watch is working hard to get this message across, both in Cambodia and abroad. Heritage Watch is also tackling the supply end of the antiquities trade through an ongoing nationwide public awareness campaign...