Libya: Looking toward a Post-Lockerbie Future; Libya's Department of Antiquities Doing a Noble Job

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Libya: Looking Toward a Post-Lockerbie Future; Libya's Department of Antiquities Doing a Noble Job

Ali Emhemmed Al-Khadour, president of the Department of Antiquities, has been director of Libya's Al Jamaheri Museum in Tripoli since it opened in 1987. Along with managing the museum, Al-Khadour is responsible for ensuring that the $35 million Libya budgets each year for salaries, restoration and the upkeep of museums is used properly to preserve the country's ancient historical sites for future generations.

While it is Libya's moral responsibility to preserve the sites, Al-Khadour told the Washington Report, Libya is where all civilizations came together, so all humanity should be concerned with helping to preserve Libya's sites. While the desert climate has helped preserve the treasures, pollution, acid rain, and even floods, are taking their toll.

We were fortunate to find Al-Khadour in Libya because he was headed to Italy the next morning. He would be traveling in his capacity as head of a negotiating committee that pressures foreign governments and individuals to return artifacts that have found their way out of the country. Libya, Al-Khadour suggested only half-facetiously, should build a new permanent exhibition hall just to house stolen treasures.

Al-Khadour fondly remembers American archeologists who used to excavate in Libya. Indeed, he told us, the home of one University of Pennsylvania archeologist, Dr. Donald White, remains exactly as he left it during the Reagan era, complete with his son's toys, waiting for his return. …