The ancient building method of drystone walling used in Cyprus and eight other European countries has been included on the Unesco list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
The cultural significance of the method, also practised in Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland was recognised during the 13th meeting of the intergovernmental committee for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, being held in Port Louis, Mauritius between November 26 and December 1.
Cyprus is being represented by a three-member team composed of Dr Angel Nicoalou-Konnari and Dr Efrosini Rizopoulou-Igoumenidou, both experts in the field, and Fotini Panagi, deputy permanent representative of Cyprus for Unesco.
“The inclusion of this art in the representative list in 2018 is extremely important,” Dr Rizopoulou-Igoumenidou said, “since it is shared with other countries and contributes to a joint effort for its preservation and continuation.”
“Drystone building refers to the construction of buildings using stones without any binding mortar,” says the website of Unesco’s national commission for Cyprus. “It is associated with practices related to the traditional country planning mainly of the rural areas, with the specific character of each area (mountainous, semi-mountainous, and coastal) and with the function of the construction.”
Drystone constructions in Cyprus are traditionally found in the rural landscape, such as in Pitsilia, Solea, Marathasa and in semi-mountainous areas such as the wine villages of Limassol and Akamas.
The multi-national candidacy was established through the initiative of Cyprus and Greece, and took more than two years for the preparation, submission and evaluation of the application.
Dry stone walling constitutes Cyprus’ fourth inclusion into the representative list of intangible cultural heritage, as the Lefkaritiko lace was added in 2009, followed by the oral poetry duelling ‘tsiattista’ in 2011, and the Mediterranean diet in 2013.
Cyprus has also filed a joint candidacy with Greece for the inclusion of the Byzantine chant into the list, which will be assessed in 2019.