Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:
Colahan, Meaghan. (2010) "Implementing Archaeological Conservation During American Nation-Building Efforts." (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


This thesis seeks to define best practices for implementing the conservation of archaeological sites as part of a broader system of cultural heritage protection within the framework of United States nation-building efforts. The ransacking of the Baghdad Museum, plus the widespread looting of the Iraq’s archaeological sites, makes it clear that measures for cultural property protection within the United States government military framework deserve a critical analysis. First, the importance of protecting cultural property during armed conflict will be examined from a historical and military perspective. Next, previous American nation building attempts are discussed to give a sense of the general circumstances within which conservation activities are to be conducted. Specifically, Iraq will be analyzed as a prime example of the necessity of cultural heritage protection and the damage that can be inflicted on archaeological heritage when such protection is not included as part of larger operational planning framework. Then, what the United States has done and is currently doing in response to the ratification of the Hague Convention and the destruction of cultural property in Iraq are explored. After that, internationally-accepted best practices of archaeological conservation are provided as a framework for evaluating current endeavors and planning those for the future. Finally, recommendations will be made on how the government, specifically the Department of Defense and the State Department, can institute measures for the conservation of archaeological heritage during the planning process of nation building operations.


Historic Presevation, Archaeological Conservation, Nation-Building



Date Posted: 10 August 2010