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A Line in the Sand? Explorations of the Cultural Heritage Value of Hominid, Pongid, and Robotid Artifacts

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 September 2007

Dirk H. R. Spennemann
Institute of Land, Water and Society. E-mail:


Although cultural heritage management is an inherently retrospective discipline, there is a need for strategic forward thinking. Too many valuable heritage places have been lost because they are not recognized and assessed in time. As cultural heritage management begins to examine modern structures and sites, this paper takes strategic thinking in cultural heritage management one step further and addresses the management of artifactual material created by our closest relatives, the great apes. Given the increasing understanding that chimpanzees have cultures and traditions in tool use, there is a need to recognize their heritage value in reference to human evolution.

Expanding the concept of nonhuman heritage into the future, it is now also time to explore how to deal with the artifacts that the first artificial intelligence (AI)-imbued, self-reflecting robots will create. By extension, which artifacts will be kept along the way? The contemplation of the role of nonhuman heritage will ultimately foster a reappraisal of human heritage. The article outlines some of the conceptual issues that must be addressed if our heritage is to have an ethical future.*Institute of Land, Water and Society. Email: e-mail

Research Article
© 2007 International Cultural Property Society

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