Since the origins of the ninth century, Dadivank Monastery has withstood Seljuk and Mongol invasions, Persian domination, Soviet rule and, this fall, a second brutal war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

NOW, the majestic stone complex - which includes two frescoed churches, a bell tower and numerous medieval inscriptions - faces something that could be even worse : a dangerous peace.

Perched on a rugged slope in the western part of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed region, Dadivank is one of the hundreds of Armenians churches, monuments and carved memorial stones that will come under the control of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijanis according to a cease-fire agreement reached recently.

Some of these structures - like the Amamras monastery and the basilica of Tsitsernavank - date to the earliest centuries of Christianity.

For many Armenians, turning over so much of their heritage to a sworn enemy poses a grave new threat, even as the bloodshed has for the moment come to an end.

Their concern is understandable. Under the cease-fire hundreds of thousands of Azaerbaijanis uprooted by previous war in the early 1990s will be able to return.

Between 1197 and 2006, the Azerbaijan government undertook a devastating campaign against Armenian heritage in Nakhichevan, an Azerbaijani enclave separated from the main part of the country by Armenian territory.

Some 89 churches and the thousands of khachkars, or carved memorial stones, of the Djulla cemetry, the largest medieval Armenian cemetery in the world, were destroyed.

And since the recent cease-fire, images circulating on social media suggest that some Armenian monuments and churches in territory newly newly claimed by Azerbaijan have already been vandalized or defiled.

On the other hand, Armenian forces laid to waste the Azerbaijani town of Agdam in the wake of the previous Nagorno-Karabakh war in the 1990s.

The Azerbaijani government has also claimed that mosques and Muslim sites that had been under the Armenian control were neglected or desecrated.

Now, as Azerbaijan takes possession of newly won territories , a long standing problem acquires special urgency:

How can a government be persuaded to take care for the heritage of a people that doesn't fit into its view of the nation?

In any instance of intercommunal strife, preserving monuments must take a distant second place to saving lives and protecting human welfare. But the fate of cultural sites matter, too, for the prospects of long-term peace.

The honor and serving of the latest publishing and research on conflicts, devastation's, and sufferings, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Hugh Eakin.


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