We are an international group of heritage workers who believe that cultural heritage is a common ground for dialogue and a tool to build peace. Founded in February 2013, Heritage for Peace’s mission is to support heritage workers as they work to protect their collections, monuments and archaeological sites during armed conflict. We are an NGO based in Girona, Spain.

Did you know that the oldest piece of annotated music known to history comes from Syria and dates back to well over 3,200 years

ugarit musical staff table 2

Hymn to Nikkal from 12th century BC (Ugarit)
If you want to know more click on the image above

Currently our efforts are focused on Syria, where the ongoing conflict has damaged numerous sites including World Heritage sites, threatened museums and libraries, and led to an epidemic of looting and illegal trade in artifacts. Yet, in our experience we also learned that many contending parties consider Syria’s heritage crucial for the country’s present and future. Heritage for Peace is impartial in the conflict; our programs are focused on supporting heritage professionals to deal with the unique challenges of protecting monuments, sites, museums and libraries during armed conflict, and on educating all military forces on their obligation to protect Syria’s precious cultural heritage under international law.

Syria’s Culture under Attack

Syria has been a crucible of human culture for hundreds of thousands of years. The country is home to some of the world’s first cities, as well as globally important sites from the Akkadian, Sumerian, Hittite, Assyrian, Persian, Greco-Roman, Ummayyad, Crusader, and Ottoman civilizations. This rich heritage, including six World Heritage sites, has been seriously damaged by the armed conflict that began in 2011.

The Entrance to the royal palace at Ugarit, where the Hurrian songs were found.

The Entrance to the royal palace at Ugarit, where the Hurrian songs were found.

To give just a few examples: in Aleppo, the Ummayyad mosque came under artillery fire, destroying its ancient minarets; heavy fighting also damaged the Crusader castle Crac des Chevaliers. Museums at Apamea, Aleppo, and Raqqa experienced thefts, and the archaeological sites of Deir ez-Zor, Mari, Dura Europos, Halbia, Buseira, Tell Sheikh Hamad and Tell es-Sin have all been damaged by looters, who sell stolen artefacts to supply local and foreign dealers [1].

Rob me of my past and I will fight for the future (All is fair in Art & War)

Many Syrian heritage professionals, including the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) have worked valiantly to safeguard monuments, museums, and sites, but the challenges of operating during wartime require special expertise, and they cannot operate in many areas of the country because of security reasons.

Syria’s Heritage Needs Your Help

Heritage for Peace believes that Syria’s shared cultural heritage can serve as an important ground for dialogue and peacemaking, even during the conflict. Our team of international volunteer experts are working to help educate and support Syrians of all religions and ethnicities who want to protect their cultural heritage.


Music from the distant past

To be successful, we need your help. As an impartial NGO we have the ability to reach all parties in the conflict – but because we are independent, we cannot rely on institutional funds. Please support our work by your donation or click at the link in the right column.

Help us to safeguard and protect what has not been destroyed yet like the oldest piece of written music: the Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal from 12th century BCE in the ancient cuneiform script Ugarit found in the early 1950s at a site of Ugarit, present day Ras Shamra. The Ugaritic script is also the oldest alphabet script ever found. It was the basis for the Phoenician alphabet, which in its turn was the foundation for the early Greek alphabet. Syria is truly part of world history and you can help us to try to safe that universal history.

Do you want to listen to the oldest annotated music in the world, the Hymn of Nikkal, than click on the picture below and hear the performance of the Syrian composer & pianist Malek Jandali from his album “Echoes from Ugarit” recorded with The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra. 

video song orchestra

الموسيقار مالك جندلي – أصداء من أوغاريت: أقدم تدوين موسيقي في العالم اكتشف في
أوغاريت – سوريا على لوحات مسمارية تعود إلى الألف الثاني قبل الميلاد

[1] All the references to the locations and archaeological sites (Wikipedia) show the sites in good condition before the crisis. Clearly that has changed drastically now.