Culture Rediscovered

Ancient cultures are still close to people's hearts, as testified by the care and attention they put into preserving or reviving them, in the countries listed below - Native Americans in New York state campaigning for their traditions, Lebanon recovering ancient artifacts, and a national Finnish radio station broadcasting the news in Latin.

By Hugh Finlay

Money on Culture

The Akwesasne, a native American tribe living in New York state, have decided to spend a vast amount of money on preserving their ancestor’s language, preserving their culture, and supporting native American tribal environmental organizations. The St. Regis Mohawk tribe received over $19 million as part of a settlement from a court case in which  a company was found guilty of industrial pollution in the area.

Lebanon Antiquities Restored

Reuters reports: US officials have found an ancient 2,400 year old artifact which was once part of a Phoenician temple in Lebanon. The artifact, a large bull’s head made of marble, will be returned to Lebanon, along with 2 statues. The artifacts were stolen in 1981 from the ancient port of Byblos, during Lebanon’s civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990. Wars in places like Syria, Lebanon and Iraq have meant that many antiquities have been stolen. These antiquities are then sold on the black market.

The stolen artifacts were sold to American collectors, and were recognized by a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where they were on temporary loan.

The artifacts were excavated from the Eshmoun temple at the port of Sidon, in the 1960s and the 1970s. Lebanon on the east Mediterranean coast was the center of the Phoenician civilization, and was part of the Persian empire, and later the Roman empire. Several important ancient sites are located in the country.

The News In Latin

A radio station in Finland broadcasts the news in Latin. It has about 10,000 ardent listeners around the world, in countries such as Vietnam and China, the United States and Belgium. The radio station was planning to end the program, but due to 3,000 listeners writing in to protest, the program will continue. The news in Latin (Nuntii Latini) started broadcasting in 1989.

Finns like Latin because the structure of its grammar and the simple written-as-pronounced feature of Latin, makes it similar to the Finnish language. Latin can be heard sometimes on Vatican radio, and Pope Francis encouraged young people to learn Latin, as it will make it easier for them to navigate “the path of life.” 

As one listener said “I began to teach Latin to our 4-and 6-year old children, and about the world through Latin. "Nuntii Latini" gave my children the lesson of being a world citizen, of caring about our past, where we came from.”

Lauri Kivinen, the director of the national Finnish radio station that broadcasts Nuntii Latini, said “It’s not just about the language. It is also a question of the perspective that is brought to issues by expressing them in Latin. And it’s very much about culture and education. I think it’s wonderful if the program inspires someone into getting acquainted with Latin language that is the basis of our European culture.”

Due to the insistence of listeners the program will continue for at least another year. As one of the program presenters put it : Ne umquam desperaveris (Never give up).

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