Dry Stone Walling Inscribed in UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage


(Photo by Eurokinissi, file)

The art of dry stone walling was inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, it was announced on Friday.

The decision was taken following the enthusiastic approval of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, during its 13th General Assembly meeting that took place in Port Louis, Mauritius.

The Ministry of Culture and Sports (MCS) in Greece submitted the candidature for the art of dry stone walling jointly with seven other countries (Croatia, Cyprus, France, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland).

According to an announcement issued by the MCS, the practice is "closely related to the way in which the productive space of traditional farmer communities is organized and also to the distinctive character of each region. They are a symbol... of the relation forged historically between man and his environment."

Dry stone walling can take many forms - ranging from paths, bridges, retaining walls, road networks and fences to terrace systems used for agriculture and constructions for irrigation or garden landscaping - while each one of them contributes to maintain the region’s ecological balance, the announcement continues. This is especially true for areas facing problems of soil erosion and other adverse climate and soil conditions.

The art of dry stone walling is still practiced by farmers and professional stone masons, with the know-how being traditionally passed on from generation to generation, it said.

This is the sixth cultural item found in Greece to be inscribed in the Intangible Cultural Heritage list. The previous ones were the Mediterranean diet (shared with another six countries), the know-how of cultivating mastic on the island of Chios, Tinian marble craftsmanship, the Momoeria New Year’s celebration customs in eight villages of Kozani, and Rebetiko music. Greece is also part of two more candidatures submitted to UNESCO for next year’s meeting: the art of chanting (jointly with Cyprus) and the seasonal droving of livestock along migratory routes in the Mediterranean and the Alps (jointly with Italy and Austria).