Heritage in danger

What is meant under archaeological heritage in danger? Meant is a heritage from which any natural or human action has partially or totally modified a cultural asset associated with pre-Hispanic or colonial practices. Natural agents such as rainfalls, wind, extreme temperatures, humidity and so on may be identified that, to some degree, have impacted composition and structure of an archaeological cultural asset (be it a movable or an immovable asset).

Human activities (anthropogenic activities) are also linked to damages or to the alteration of  part of or of a complete archaeological asset, for instance earth being removed, areas reconverted to agricultural or productive exploitation, unscrupulous looting, premeditated destruction or any other public works activity not including actions aimed at protecting the cultural heritage and leading to destructions.

To this conceptualization must be added that pollution as well as production of solid and liquid waste without implementing measures for eliminating all residues, as well as environmental pollution both above and below-ground are also part of the elements jeopardizing the archaeological heritage. There are consequently a series of natural and anthropogenic activities endangering the archaeological heritage, causing in some cases irreversible damages.

The area all around the Titicaca Lake has been identified as one of the most important of Bolivian archaeology due to its high density of existing archaeological sites.

The existence of such a vast water expanse generated the presence of cultural settlements reflected in a wide range of archaeological sites, including platforms, agricultural terraces, roads, housing structures, ceremonial areas, cave paintings, burial structures and so on.
However, despite this diversified archaeological heritage, the conservation, valorization and protection works failed to eliminate the risks to which this kind of heritage is exposed; this explains why, in certain cases, alterations and partial or complete losses of the so-called cultural heritage were identified.

In the context of the Lake Project, a clear policy aimed at the protection and care of the archaeological heritage was initiated considering both the heritage underwater and on land. Municipal laws to protect the archaeological heritage were enacted in all 13 concerned Municipalities, archaeological sites above and below ground were identified, the identified cultural material during the underwater archaeological research was conserved, a Center for the regional heritage management was created and urgent works on archaeological sites were conducted, all these actions helping one way or another to start activities aimed at addressing the situation of the archaeological heritage in the area surrounding the Titicaca Lake in Bolivia.

Admittedly, these actions do not address all the identified risks threatening the archaeological heritage, but they mark the beginning of a work already underway, that is visible and shall increase over time as the population will progressively regards the archaeological heritage as a part of their identity, development and become aware of its cultural value.