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Minecraft helps revive lost monuments virtually

Mosul mosque
Islamic State forces blew up the Al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, Iraq, as they withdrew from the city in 2017. (Photo Courtesy of History Blocks)

Can a video game reclaim centuries’ worth of lost cultural heritage in the Middle East? Microsoft’s Minecraft Education Edition is being used to do just that, in league with UNESCO and schools around the world.

History Blocks takes advantage of the educationally oriented Minecraft platform to build virtual versions of ancient monuments — starting with sites that were destroyed by the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, and by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The project was conceived and developed by Agencia Africa in Brazil, and put to its first test this February at Escola Bosque, a private school in São Paulo.

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Seattle wins UNESCO’s laurel for literature

Seattle Public Library
Seattle Public Library. Photo via Flickr user PsychaSec.

It only makes sense that Seattle is now officially one of UNESCO’s Cities of Literature, considering that it’s home to the world’s biggest bookseller (Amazon) as well as America’s most well-read citizens (at least according to Amazon).

One might even ask what took UNESCO so long: A nonprofit group called Seattle City of Literature has been campaigning for years to win recognition from the Paris-based U.N. cultural agency, but missed getting onto the list two years ago.

Don’t expect a City of Literature to be so impertinent as to ask. Instead, leaders of the campaign graciously welcomed word that Seattle was being added to UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.

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