Regional Meeting – Argentina, Australia Chile. February 2007
On 7th & 8th February 2007 a meeting of members from southern hemisphere countries was held in Vina del Mar, Chile.
Participants were: Dr. Michael Pearson (Australia), Javier Garcia Cano (Argentina), Jose de Nordensflycht (Chile), Jorge Berguño (Chile), Andrés Zarankin (Argentina), Ximena Senatore (Argentina), Mónica Valentini (Argentina), Carolina Gatica (Chile) and Ruben Stehberg (Chile).
The meeting began with a half day of public presentations after which the members began internal discussions on a range of issues. The main discussion was on the following topics ;
a) Conservation of 19th century historic sites in Antarctic, and in particular those in the Fildes and Byers Peninsula areas;
b) The need for a data-base of all the known historic sites in the South Shetland islands;
c) The activities of pseudo and amateur archaeologist and historians working in the Antarctic without adequate control of their national cultural authorities.
The following recommendations were made:
a) Historic sites of the Fildes Peninsula. It was decided to contact the Antarctic Committee that works with a Management Plan of theFildes Peninsula, throught the Chilean President Embassador Jorge Berguno. Mr Berguno subsequently invited Ruben Stehberg to present the paper “Historical sites and archaeological findings of Fildes” at the meeting of the Scientific Cooperation, Environmental Protection and Coordination of Activities in the Fildes Peninsula Region, King George Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. This meeting was held in Punta Arenas 29-30th March 2007.
This Committee recommended an ASPA should be created for this cultural resource and that this could be presented at the next meeting of the Antarctic Environment Committee.
Ruben Stehberg has now sent a Working Document (Nº 1) with a map location and description of the historic sites of this area to Embassador Berguño. The Chilean delegate will present this proposal to the next meeting.
The situation on the Byers Peninsula is different as there is already a scientific protected area with a Management Plan administered by England. For this reason another working document (Nº 2) was prepared with a location map and description of the 26 historic sites on the ByersPeninsula. The Chilean Delegate has been asked to present this to the British with a submission to include it as an Annex to their Management Plan.
b) With the preparation of Working Documents Nº 1 and Nº 2, 90% of the list of the sites discovered in the South Shetlands has been completed. This means we are now close to having a complete Data Base of the 19th century human settlements.
c) We have major concerns about a Spanish-Argentine group of amateur adventurers operating in a number of the places where there are 19th and early 20th century historic sites. They claim to be “doing archaeology” but they are in fact taking cultural material from many places.
We believe we have identified the leaders of this group but it is not known if they have official approval for their activities. We should attempt to find out if the Argentine Council of Monuments and Sites have given them approval.