Which cultural sites should be preserved—and how?

As we go behind the scenes of the herculean effort to restore Notre Dame Cathedral, we also confront thorny questions about cultural heritage sites.

Cultural heritage sites are a nonrenewable resource. When they disappear, they’re gone forever, a loss akin to the extinction of species.

Today architectural and archaeological heritage sites are being destroyed or imperiled at an alarming rate. They’re threatened by rising seas (Venice), pollution (the Taj Mahal), overtourism (Angkor Wat), encroaching development (the Pyramids at Giza), conflict (Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra) …

And by accidents.

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