Damage to Syria’s heritage 02 December 2014



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

02 December 2014

This newsletter provides a summary of the most recent reports on the damage to Syria’s heritage.  It should be stressed that much of this data cannot be verified, but it is hoped that it will assist in the documentation of the damage occurring, and help raise awareness.

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Main Contents

New from Heritage for Peace | Updates on Damage | Updates on Looting | Intangible Heritage | Reports and Updates from the Syrian DGAM | Policy Changes and Updates from Syria | International Activity | News Updates


New from Heritage for Peace
Heritage for Peace assists in damage assessment training 

‘Heritage for Peace, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Family Affairs of the Syrian Interim Government held a ‘Damage Assessment for Cultural Heritage’ training in Gaziantep, Turkey from 23 – 26 November. The training, which included heritage experts on the Ministry staff, was the final element of a support program for the Interim Government’s Task Force on Antiquities and Museums funded by the Dutch Government…’ See the full press release here.

Updates on Damage
(Photo: Al Judaidah/ Jedaidey/ Jdaidi, Old Aleppo

Source: Mrwan Salem, Aleppo Archaeology )

Continued destruction to sites in Aleppo

  • A one minute video shows shelling of the Citadel of Aleppo by the Islamic Front opposition group. Aleppo Archaeology (30 November, 2014) here.
  • Aleppo Archaeology shared a photo of damage to Al Judaidah/ Jedaidey/ Jdaidi, Old Aleppo (26 November, 2014) here (also posted above).
  • A view of wreckage at the entrance of the Citadel of Aleppo was shared by Aleppo Archaeology (25 November, 2014) here.
  • A 9 minute video of destruction around Souk Elzaher / Souk Al Zeher, Bab Alhadid, Old Aleppo by Ismael Abed Alrahman (22 November, 2014) was shared by Protect Syrian Archaeology here.
  • A photograph of damage to Khan Alwazir/ Khan Elwazir, Old Aleppo. was shared by Aleppo Archaeology (21 November, 2014) here.
  • A view of the devastation down the street of Jadat El Khandak/ Jadat Alkhandak, Old Aleppo was shared by Aleppo Archaeology (21 November, 2014) here.
(Ancient blocks in Al-Bara are cut into smaller stones for building material. Photo copyright: DGAM)

Damage from looting and building to Ancient Cities of Northern Syria, Idlib

  • Al-Bara, within the Al Zawia Mountain Park and one of the best known of the ‘Dead Cities’, is being heavily vandalised and damaged, reports the DGAM (29 November 2014). The Roman buildings are being looted for building material. Illegal digging has also taken place at al-Bara and other sites, including the iconic Roman ‘pyramid tomb’. The DGAM notes that the work appears to have been well-organised and carried out by professionals. See photographs and details here.
  • The DGAM reports (24 November 2014) damage at Shinsrah in al Zawia Mountain Park. People displaced by the civil war have made their homes in the ruins. See photographs and the brief here.
  • The DGAM reports damage elsewhere in the UNESCO Ancient Villages of Northern Syria World Heritage site, at Kafer Aqab in Jabal Wastani Park. See photographs and report here.
  • There is further damage from illegal digging and bulldozing for building material in the countryside around Idlib, reports the DGAM (26 November 2014). The sites affected include BalyunKafr Hawar, and Tall Ramla. See photographs and information here.
(Raqqa museum after bombing. Photo copyright: DGAM)

Damage in Raqqa

  • The historic museum in Raqqa has been damaged as a result of bombing, reports the DGAM on 25 November 2014. See three photographs and the report here. Other photographs were shared by by Protect Syrian Archaeology here.
  • The DGAM reports further damage to Tall Sheikh Hasan, near Raqqa (20 November 2014). The site had been previously damaged by illegal digging; now a shrine there has been destroyed by IS. However, the DGAM says that the local community has forced an end to further illegal digging and looting. See the report and photographs here.
Report of damage in Bosra 

  • DGAM reports blasts due to clashes around Bosra have resulted in an unknown level of damage to traditional buildings there. See the brief here.

Updates on Looting
(Photo: The place where the busts were cut out. Photo copyright: DGAM)

Stolen funerary busts from Palmyra recovered

The DGAM has recovered three funerary busts from the c. 2nd AD Taibul Tomb in the SE Necropolis of Palmyra (22 November 2014). Pictures published by the DGAM show how the busts were cut out here. Further discussion can be found on the Portable Antiquity and Collecting blog here; an older and detailed discussion of the tomb of Taibul and some of the earlier looting of it can be found on Judith Weingarten’s blog here.

Intangible Heritage
  • None
Reports and Updates from the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums
DGAM continues to be involved in international protection of Syrian heritage 

On 24 November, the training course “First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Syria” began in Beirut, attended by twenty members of the DGAM, including those from cities which have suffered grievously in the war (e.g. Aleppo, Bosra), reported in an article here. The training is organised by UNESCO and is designed to better prepare experts to deal with heritage emergencies. Additionally, the DGAM states that it will take part in the UNESCO-sponsored conference in Paris on 3 December here.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria
  • None
International Activity
UNESCO conference to discuss cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria  

UNESCO (27 November 2014) provides details about an international conference taking place in Paris on 3 December 2014, addressing the ‘endangered heritage and cultural diversity’ of both Iraq and Syria. The delegates, which include politicians, policy makers, humanitarian workers, and experts on heritage, will consider how to make heritage protection a priority amongst all of the other pressing matters bound up in addressing the crises in Iraq and Syria. See the UNESCO announcement here.

ASOR continues to give reports on damage to Syria  

ASOR’s Syrian Heritage Initiative is periodically posting highly detailed reports on damage in Syria. The home page of the summaries can be found here.

News Updates

(Not covered in other sections)


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