PASADENA — the Union International de Organisation Terre et Culture (UIOTC)/Land and Culture Organization (LCO) chapters from France, the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium and Armenia held this year’s annual meeting in Lyon, France. 2013 projects and plans for the upcoming 2014 campaigns were reviewed. Members of the Lyon Armenian community attended a fundraising cultural program at the AGBU Armenian Center for a presentation about the OTC/LCO mission and its projects.
The board discussed the status of ongoing projects, including Syria. In the 1980-1990s, OTC/LCO restored Karadouran’s village church and three traditional Armenian dwellings in Kessab, one of which is used as the Kessab ethnographical museum. During this current crisis in Syria, Armenian refugees from Aleppo, Yacoubiyah, and other areas found shelter in these homes until the recent attack on Kessab.
During the 2013-summer campaign, 20 volunteers from Canada, England, France, Russia, and the United States launched a new project in southern Syunik region in Shikahogh. The village of Shikahogh is located in the dense Shikahogh State Reserve, Armenia’s second largest forest reserve. Volunteers lived in the village while renovating the 16th century Sourp Stepanos Nakhavegah Church with inscriptions from the 13th century. The church is in a state of collapse from years of neglect during Soviet times. The 2013 group cleared the site and conducted archaeological excavations. Swords and artifacts from the 17-18th century era of David Beg were discovered during the digs. In 2014, a new group of volunteers will start on the restoration phase of the project.
Another ongoing project is the 7th-10th century Tchitchkhanavank in Shirakamut, in the northern Shirak region near Spitak. LCO already completed archaeological excavations in 2011 and 2012 with the restoration phase beginning this summer. Completion date of this historic site is expected to be summer of 2015. This summer’s campaign dates will be July 20-August 17. More campaign information can be found at www.lcousa.org.
As the Armenian nation continues to struggle with many challenges in Syria, Karabakh, and Armenia, LCO strives to be diligent in solidifying Armenian historical presence and remains committed to the restoration of Armenian cultural heritage. These landmarks are the only tangible, physical proof of Armenians existence on the land. The LCO mission is to preserve our past and secure our future.
For over 36 years, LCO has been one of the earliest volunteer groups in Armenia and Karabakh working to restore, renovate, and rejuvenate the historical monuments and sites of our nation. It has performed this mission through its summer campaigns, by volunteers of every age from the Diaspora and Armenia. To learn more about LCO or join in our summer volunteer program, you may reach us at www.lcousa.org.