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Gran Canaria meeting brings together two UNESCO initiatives

An international expert meeting took place in Gran Canaria, Spain, on May 23–24 which brought together the Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative and UNESCO’s thematic initiative on Heritage of Religious Interest. The aim was to identify and reinforce the close linkages that exist across human cultures between religious/sacred traditions and celestial knowledge, and the clear connections between sacred sites and the skyscape. The meeting issued a set of recommendations aimed at recognising, respecting and helping to preserve such sites, including through the World Heritage process.

The recommendations

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Second Thematic Study on astronomical heritage

A second ICOMOS–IAU Thematic Study on the Heritage Sites of Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy was published in June 2017 in e-book form (see the TS2 contents page to download) and in November 2017 as a paperback,which can be purchased from Oxbow Books/Casemate Academic.

The case studies in TS2 include seven-stone antas (prehistoric dolmens) in Portugal and Spain, the thirteen towers of Chankillo in Peru, the astronomical timing of irrigation in Oman, Pic du Midi de Bigorre Observatory in France, Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and Aoraki–Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve in New Zealand. A case study on Stonehenge, already a World Heritage Site, focuses on preserving the integrity of the solstitial sightlines. A thematic chapter and several case studies address the issue of recognising dark sky values in relation to the broader cultural or natural values of a place. See here for more details.