U.S. Taxpayers Spent $5.6 Million in 2011 to Preserve Cultural Landmarks – in Other Countries

Pete Winn | October 18, 2012 | 1:50pm EDT
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Russian open-air museum at Kizhi, Karelia. (UNESCO photo)

(CNSNews.com) – U.S. taxpayers spent $700,000 in 2011 to help conserve the ruins of a 9th century city in East Africa, according to a State Department report.

Another $100,000 in taxpayer funds went to Russia, where it is being used to “preserve a traditional 19th century Log House Museum in the Russian North, in the Russian Federation.”

The projects were part of a total $5.6 million in grants made to foreign nations to preserve their cultural landmarks, as part of the State Department’s “Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.”

Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani, Tanzania. (UNESCO photo)

The ruins of the African city of Kilwa Kisiwani are located in Tanzania, on the coast of East Africa. During the Middle Ages, the sultans who ruled the city commanded trade along the African coast.

In Russia, the open-air museum on Kizhi Island in Karelia, is a collection of 80 or so wooden churches and buildings that date back to the 15th Century. The Soviet government moved many of the buildings to the site in the 1950s and '60s to preserve them.

Both sites are on the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage list.

Other foreign projects receiving U.S. funding include:

$600,000 – on the conservation of the 1st century Temple of the Winged Lions at Petra in Jordan;

$100,000 – toward the restoration of the mid-19th century Central Railroad Station in Asuncion, Paraguay;

$119,052 – on conservation efforts to save the 16th century Santo Tomás Temple and Convent in Guatemala;

$450,000 – to preserve the 10th Century Temple of Phnom Bakheng in Cambodia;

$72,088 -- to stabilize the 17th century Ets-Hayim Synagogue in Izmir, Turkey.

According to the State Department: “The [Ambassadors] Fund supports a wide range of projects to preserve cultural heritage, such as the restoration of historic buildings, assessment and conservation of museum collections, archaeological site preservation, documentation of vanishing traditional craft techniques, improved storage conditions for archives and manuscripts, and documentation of indigenous languages.”

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