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Cry for Notre Dame, sure, but why not for treasures beyond the West?

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17.04.2019

Over the past 25 years there have been numerous examples of ancient buildings burning down or being bombed, of cultural treasures being looted or destroyed. But some of these tragedies catch our attention more than others.

On Tuesday we awoke to the deeply troubling spectacle of the Notre Dame Cathedral on fire. It reminded us that even the grandest and most transcendent monuments are vulnerable to the forces of nature.

Flames and smoke rise from the burning Notre Dame on Monday night. Credit:AP

In the Middle Ages churches were always burning down and being rebuilt, but today we have a false sense that engineering and safety procedures protect the built environment from such catastrophes.

The Paris conflagration immediately sparked a social media debate about whether we – citizens of affluent Western countries – experience as much collective grief about cultural tragedies that occur outside the West as we feel about the Notre Dame fire.

Last year’s fire at the National Museum of Brazil destroyed more than 90 per cent of its collection of 20 million items, including numerous........

© Brisbane Times