A leaked British report into the archaeological significance of an ancient Roman gold mine has helped to scupper plans by the Romanian government to approve invasive mining at the site.
The expert report, kept hidden for three years by the Bucharest government, was commissioned by Romania’s ministry of culture and funded by a not-for-profit organisation, Pro Patrimonio, which works to protect Romania’s cultural heritage. The report says that the ancient site, in Rosia Montana in the Apuseni Mountains of western Transylvania, is worthy of consideration as a Unesco world heritage site and that its galleries are “the most extensive and most important underground Roman gold mine known anywhere”.
This month, the ministry of culture presented a list of monuments that it would like to see included as world heritage sites, but the picturesque village of Rosia Montana, with its ancient galleries that tell of Roman mining, was not on it.
British archaeologist David Jennings, director of the York Archaeological Trust and a former director of Oxford Archaeology, an institution involved in the research program of the Rosia Montana heritage as early as since 2008 found three main flaws in the arguments set out by the Oxford professors and CgMs:
“An exaggeration of the importance of the site; The lack of appreciation of the precarious state of preservation and precarious integrity of many heritage-related objectives due to intense exploitation, especially over the last 250 years, which had a huge impact on the earlier phases of the heritage and left behind a largely non-rehabilitated and massive polluted environment; The lack of a professional opinion on the amount of the costs entailed by a full conservation program (estimated at around 200-300 million dollars).”
And as you ask, yes it is true that OA are (still) the contractors who work on behalf of the mining company
In their own words: “The work OA undertook to understand the results of ten years of intensive fieldwork, the results of 13 major excavations, extensive investigations of a network of Roman, medieval and modern gold mines, and a vast library of project documentation, was fascinating. If nothing else, the work reveals the huge importance of cultural heritage to communities.”
The moral issue does not just hold to the archaeology – it is the cyanide used in the process. There is no guarantee that this will not leak into rivers and ground water… killing the region.
150 years later… and it is still an issue for goldrush regions in America… ( http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/10/2013/mercury-contamination-legacy-of-the-californian-gold-rush )
Just because the Soviets messed the area, does not seem to be a good enough reason to continue and enlarge the process… or is it?