Damage to Syria’s heritage – 19 February 2015



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

19 February 2015

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 efforts noted in the Wall Street Journal 

The work of Heritage for Peace is highlighted by the Wall Street Journal (February 11 2015) under the title ‘Culture Brigade: Syrian ‘Monuments Men’ Race to Protect Antiquities as Looting Bankrolls Terror’. The article discusses training provided to Syrian archaeologists by H4P and the work of those archaeologists within the country to catalogue damage and protect Syria’s heritage. Franklin Lamb’s piece for Counterpunch, ‘Can Syria’s Cultural Heritage be a Fulcrum for Ending its Civil War?’ (February 9) also features H4P.

Heritage for Peace participates in conferences at Barcelona and Berlin 

  • On February 20, senior staff of Heritage for Peace will attend a seminar in Barcelona entitled ‘El Patrimonio Cultural en tiempos de conflictos’. Heritage for Peace collaborated in the organisation of this event. See here for more information, and for the program (in pdf) see here.
  • Heritage for Peace participated in the conference concerning the Reconstruction of Aleppo in Berlin on the 6th of February. See more information here.

Updates on Damage
(Damage to the Northwest tower of the citadel in Damascus.      Photo credit: DGAM)

Damage in Aleppo and Damascus

  • Video by Ismael Abed Alrahman shows damage to Al-Serwi/Al-Sarwy mosque, Albayda, Aleppo, shared by Protect Syrian Archaeology (February 15 2015, 1’19”) here.
  • Photos reveal damage to Tell Newaaz in the western countryside of Aleppo, shared by Protect Syrian Archaeology (February 12 2015) here.
  • A five minute video by Ismael Abed Alrahman shows damage to the Mamluk-era Bardebak Mosque/ Qastel Harami Mosque in Qastel Harami, Aleppo, shared by Protect Syrian Archaeology (February 9 2015) here.
  • Video by Ismael Abed Alrahman shows damage to Al-Mouhtaseb Mosque, Aqyoul, Aleppo, shared by Protect Syrian Archaeology (February 7 2015, 2′ 43″) here.
  • Images show damage to an Ottoman Police Station in Qastel Harami, Aleppo, shared by Protect Syrian Archaeology (February 6 2015) here.
  • The DGAM reports (February 5 2015) that an explosion in Damascus, near the famous Souq al-Hamidiyeh, damaged the oldest of the twelve towers of the Damascus citadel. Information and two images can be found here.
(Damage to Tell Harmal Ras al Ayn area from bulldozing.      Photo credit: DGAM)

Damage from Vandalism and Looting in al Hasaka

  • The DGAM reports (February 3 2015) damage in the region around Ras al-Ayn. This includes the theft of archaeological equipment and looting at Tall Fakhariye, the site of the Roman military base of Resaina. Other sites nearby have also been damaged. See the report with detailed photographs here.
  • In addition, images shared by Protect Syrian Archaeology show illicit digging in the Byzantine tombs located in al-Nasiriyah and other villages, which can be found here.

Updates on Looting
Looting resumes in Mari and Dura Europos 

The DGAM reports that illegal digging has restarted at both Mari and Dura Europos. The work appears to have been carried out at the instigation of ISIL. The information on this story can be found here.

Stolen antiquities recovered by DGAM 

The DGAM reports that 88 Abbasid gold coins and 1 silver Hellenistic coin have been recovered. See the brief and photographs here

Intangible Heritage
  • None
Reports and Updates from the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums
DGAM posts new interactive map participates in UNESCO training 

The DGAM (February 14 2015) has posted a useful interactive map of damaged sites in Syria. The map system ‘…allows users to access to the latest information and data on the damaged archaeological sites linked with their geographical dimension, type of damage, significant of the sites as well as photographs.’ The full explanation and link to the map can be found here.

DGAM welcomes new UN resolution 

The DGAM (February 12 2015) welcomes UN resolution 2199, banning illegal antiquities trade from Syria, and thanks those contributing to the efforts. See the brief report here.

DGAM holds symposium on Syrian antiquities 

The Syrian Minster of Culture held a symposium at the National Museum entitled ‘The Reality of Syrian Antiquities During the Crisis’, on February 8, 2015. The workshop will focus on the DGAM’s efforts to protect heritage during the ongoing civil war. See the report here.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria
  • None
International Activity
(Photo copyright: UNESCO)

UN Security Council passes resolution banning illicit Syrian antiquities trade

On February 12 2015, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2199, designed to target ISIL’s financing. This includes a ban on the trade in Syrian antiquities removed after March 15, 2011. See the UN report here. For a brief commentary from Conflict Antquities blog, see here. The statement from UNESCO can be found here, and the statement from the US government here.

ASOR posts weekly report on damaged heritage sites

ASOR gave another article reporting damage in Syria and Iraq up to February 9th, noting that the increased fighting in Damascus, Idlib, and Aleppo is harming heritage sites at an alarming rate. See the report here.

News Updates

(Not covered in other sections)

Looting and Destruction of heritage in the news

This mailing list was produced by Dr Emma Cunliffe, in association with Heritage for Peace

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