What is cultural heritage?

“Cultural Heritage is an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation, including customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values. It is often expressed as either Intangible or Tangible Cultural Heritage.” [1]

UNESCO defines Intangible Cultural Heritage as the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills that communities and groups recognise as part of their cultural heritage. [2]

It is manifested in the following domains:

  • Oral traditions and expressions, including language
  • Performing arts
  • Social practices, rituals and festive events
  • Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe
  • Traditional craftsmanship [3]

This project will seek to preserve and showcase intangible cultural heritage but will also display photographs on Tangible Cultural Heritage from around Libya.

Tangible cultural heritage is defined as:

  • Movable cultural heritage, such as paintings, sculptures, coins, and manuscripts
  • Immovable cultural heritage, such as monuments and archaeological sites
  • Underwater cultural heritage (shipwrecks, underwater ruins and cities) [4]

Why is it important?

Cultural heritage is a record of the genius of human beings and is what we leave behind for the next generations to mark our journey in this world, and is irreplaceable even in this new media age.[5] It is an important representation of the culture and social fabric that makes up the unique identities of communities.

Cultural heritage is even more important during and after conflict. Collecting and preserving cultural pieces during conflict facilitates an understanding of what certain groups experienced and how they managed to cope and foster resilience.

Preserving memories, physical sites, objects and intangible heritage may serve as a basis for developing a post-war identity and reconstructing the social fabric that was destroyed during conflict. Cultural identity and heritage can help people uniteas a nation and a group.

Libyan cultural heritage is being destroyed by the conflict both incidentally, through neglect, insecurity and lack of resources, and sometimes intentionally, such as by armed forces targeting indigenous groups or historical sites. LFJL believes that the preservation of Libya’s cultural heritage during the ongoing conflict is fundamental to future transitional justice initiatives.

This site aims to preserve information related to Libyan cultural heritage that may have already been lost, is at high risk of being destroyed, or that Libyans otherwise want to protect. It is a living site and is not intended to be a complete picture of cultural heritage in Libya. We are constantly updating this site and accept submissions here.

LFJL is an independent, impartial and non-political organisation that does not take sides in the conflict or support any political views. This website contains historical accounts and depictions of Libya in order to capture and preserve a broad range of information and accounts of Libyan culture. As such, any materials on this site do not reflect LFJL’s views or affiliations. Furthermore, texts on this website may contain outdated cultural depictions, which are neither supported nor endorsed by LFJL.


[1] Culture in Development, “What is Cultural Heritage?”, available here: http://www.cultureindevelopment.nl/cultural_heritage/what_is_cultural_heritage
[2] UNESCO, “2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage”, available here: https://ich.unesco.org/en/convention
[3] UNESCO, “2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage”, available here: https://ich.unesco.org/en/convention
[4] UNESCO, “Definition of the cultural heritage”, available here: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/illicit-trafficking-of-cultural-property/unesco-database-of-national-cultural-heritage-laws/frequently-asked-questions/definition-of-the-cultural-heritage/
[5] UNESCO, Karima Bennoune, “Cultural heritage is a human rights issue”, available here: https://en.unesco.org/news/karima-bennoune-cultural-heritage-human-rights-issue