Damage to Syria’s heritage 17 August 2014


Damage to Syria’s Heritage
17 August 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.If the newsletter is not displaying properly, click here to view it online in a browser.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 welcomes new volunteersHeritage for Peace would like to welcome the new volunteers who have started working with them, and thank them for their help!

Updates on Damage
(Photo: Norias Ga’bariyya and Al-Sihyuriyya, July 2010. Photo copyright: E Cunliffe)Heavy damage to Noria Ga’bariyya A fire heavily damaged noria Ga’bariyya (alt. Jaabarlyeh, Gaabariyya, J’berhie), part of the Tentative World Heritage site, the Noreas of Hama.  According to the DGAM the wooden wheel was heavily damaged, but the stone base is intact. The full report is available in English here, and Arabic here.

A video of the damage was published by the Revolutionary Council of Hama here, and shared by the Association to Protect Syrian Archaeology here.  In addition, they have also released photos of the damage here.

(Photo: Remains of the Grand Serail. Photo copyright: AMC / Aleppo Archaeology)Destruction of the Grand SerailWe reported in the last newsletter that the Grand Serail, the former seat of the Governor of Aleppo, was blown up at the end of July.  It was one of the most important government buildings in Aleppo in the 1930s.  It sat on the citadel square, and served in its official capacity until 2008, when the new government building was opening.

It would seem the building has not been completely destroyed: a video of the damage was shared by Aleppo Archaeology here.

The Association to Protect Syrian Archaeology have also shared photographs here, and photographs and video on their website.

Buildings around the Grand Serail In addition to the extensive damage to the Grand Serail, a number of other buildings were damaged in the blast.

  • The minaret of the 15th century Al-Otrousch Mosque (alt. Otrush, Atrouche) sustained heavy damage.  In addition, the mosque contained an important grave, which was located even closer to the explosion, and which is probably heavily damaged.  The minaret can be seen in this video.The Association to Protect Syrian Archaeology have also shared a video of the damage,
  • Hammam Yalbogha (alt. Yalbougha), a 15th century hammam, was also heavily damaged.  The Association to Protect Syrian Archaeology shared photos of the damage on their Facebook page and their website, and a video.
(Photo: Damage to the Banqusa Mosque, Old Aleppo. Photo copyright: Halab Media Centre and Aleppo Archaeology)Damage to the Bab al-Hadid area of Old Aleppo

  • This photo, shared by Syrian Revolution 2011, shows the damage to the Bab al-Hadid neighbourhood.
  • In particular, several mosques were heavily damaged, although there is some confusion as to which they are.The 14th century Mameluk Banqusa Mosque was reported to be badly damaged, confirmed by the DGAM in English here, and in Arabic here, with a map of the location of the mosque.Photos of damage to the mosque taken by Halab Media Centre were shared by Aleppo Archaeology here and here, and other photos were shared by Syrian Revolution 2011.

    Aleppo News Network also released a video of the damage.

    Two photos of the internal damage were released by Halab Today and shared by Aleppo Archaeology, here and here.  These were also shared by the Association to Protect Syrian Archaeology here: however, they stated they were of the al-Hadadin Mosque.

    The al-Hadaddin Mosque is on the north side of the square outside the Bab al-Hadid, whilst the Banqusa Mosque is on the south side of the square. The Banqusa Mosque is said to have once carried the name Haddaddin, and sometimes gets called the ‘Old Haddaddin Mosque”, hence the confusion.

    If both mosques have been damaged, please do let us know.

  • In addition, the DGAM reported in English here, and in Arabic here, that the Al-Maidany Mosque, which dates to 685H, has been damaged.
  • The Kabu Al-Najarin building was also damaged, as seen in a photo by Halab News.com and shared by Eyes on Heritage.
DGAM inventory of damage in old DamascusThe DGAM have conducted an inventory of the damage to old Damascus, together with photos of many of the damaged buildings. The details are available in English here and in Arabic here.
Additional historic buildings damaged

  • The Saht Al-Almaji building in Old Aleppo has been badly damaged, as seen in this photo by Halab News.com and shared by Eyes on Heritage.
  • A mosque in the Qadi Askar district of Aleppo has been heavily damaged, as seen in this photo shared by Syrian Revolution in 2011.
  • This video by Imprint Syria shows the damage occurring in Aleppo. (The voice-over is in Arabic).
  • The Association to Protect Syrian Archaeology have shared photos of sandbags around the Citadel in Aleppo on their Facebook page, available here.

Updates on Looting
ISIS are taxing looting to fund themselvesAccording to a report on the Chasing Aphrodite blog”ISIS has cited Al-Khuns [a tax] in ordering locals to pay one-fifth of the proceeds of looting, which they have sanctioned and overseen across the archaeologically rich northern Iraq and Syria, experts say, citing local sources. […]

Local sources tell observers that ISIS is dedicating manpower to supervising the looting at major excavation sites, something they would be unlikely to do unless it provided meaningful income”.

Read the full article, Twenty Percent: ISIS “khums” tax on Archaeological Loot Fuels the Conflicts in Syria and Iraq, here.

Intangible Heritage
Syrian chants preservedThis NPR interview chronicles the work of a punk drummer to preserve ancient Syrian musical chants.Read / listen to the article, Before War, A Punk Drummer Preserved Syrian Chants, by NPR here.
Reports and Updates from the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums
DGAM to electronically document sites“The Directorate has documented sixteen sites so far, with  a hundred more sites scheduled to be uploaded by the end of the current year, Mahmoud Hamoud, Director of Damascus Countryside Antiquities told SANA. […]The e-documentation will include information on the scientific content, manuscripts, images, the history of the sites, excavations, historical documentation, renovation projects of buildings, and the date of registering archaeological sites in the national list of World Heritage.”

Read the full article, New project for electronic documentation of Syrian archeological sites launched, in SANA here.

Excellent summary of the actions to protect Syria’s heritage sitesAgudo Villanueva interviews Dr Maamoun Abdulkarim, head of the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums.  The article provides an excellent overview of the actions being taken to protect Syria’s heritage.Read the full article, Interview with Maamoun Abdulkarim: “more than 6000 archaeological artifacts has returned to Syria during the past three years”, in Mediterráneo Antiguo here.
The DGAM condemns the damage to AleppoIn this article the DGAM plead for the destruction of Aleppo to stop.Read the full article in English here and in Arabic here.
Policy Changes and Updates from Syria
  • None
International Activity
ASOR and the American Department of State to assist in protecting Syrian heritage“The U.S. Department of State and the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) have signed a $600,000 cooperative agreement to comprehensively document the current condition of cultural heritage sites in Syria and assess the future restoration, preservation, and protection needs for those sites. ASOR’s documentation and planning will raise global awareness of the threats to Syria’s cultural heritage and identify immediate or future projects and assistance that can be carried out and provided inside Syria.”Read the full press release, Safeguarding Heritage Sites in Syria, on the U.S. State Department website here.
UNESCO update on their workUNESCO have provided a comprehensive update on the work they are doing help protect Syria’s heritage.  See details of their 3-pronged approach in this article.
Syrians risk their lives to protect their heritageThis news articles details the risks that Syrians are taking to protect their heritage, and the work the Association to Protect Syrian Archaeology is doing to support them.Read the full article, Monuments Men: The Quest to Save Syria’s History, in Der Spiegal Online, here.
Photography exhibition in MadridThe Syrian Tourism Ministry have co-organised an photography exhibition of Syria’s archaeology sites in Madrid, showing them before the conflict and now.Read the full article, UNWTO Secretary-General: Vandalism of Syrian heritage sites by terrorists unjustifiable, in SANA here.
New damage documentation websiteThe excellent Monuments of Syria website is now devoting a page to monitoring the damage that is occurring. Follow it here.
News Updates(Not covered in other sections)
Reports and more information on the damage to Syria’s heritage

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