High-Resolution Satellite Imagery and the Destruction of Cultural Artifacts in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan

The Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), with funding from the Oak Foundation, investigated reports of the destruction of Armenian cultural artifacts by Azerbaijan that occurred between 1998 and 2005. Using high-resolution satellite imagery, AAAS documented the phased destruction of a medieval Armenian cemetery in the Djulfa region of Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan (Figure One) that housed intricate 15th and 16th century burial monuments known as khachkars (Figure Two). The destruction in Djulfa has been a focus of UNESCO and the European Parliament, the latter of which was denied entry to the region to conduct a fact-finding mission. The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) documented this phased destruction in reports published in 2003 and in 2006-2007. Given that Azerbaijan has barred on-site investigation by outside groups, AAAS acquired and analyzed high-resolution satellite imagery to assess whether damage to the artifacts occurred. Based on the assessment of satellite images from 2003 and 2009, AAAS found evidence that the cemetery area was likely destroyed and later leveled by earth-moving equipment. Follow the link below to view the rest of the report.


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