Heritage for PeaceHERITAGE FOR PEACE: We believe that cultural heritage is a common ground for dialogue and a tool to build peace. Thus, we support heritage workers in the protection of cultural heritage for future generations.
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. Heritage for Peace have released a statement concerning their stance on data recording, available here.
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Damage, looting in Raqqa museum. Copyright: The Authority of Tourism and Protection of Antiquities.
Damage to heritage in Raqqa
Photos on Facebook appear to show damage to a mosque in Raqqa. View the photos on Facebook here.
A new video about Raqqa Museum has been posted by ATAP here, and there is a status update on the museum on the ARCA blog here.
ATAP visited the city of Raqqa to take a look at the archaeological sites there. However, because of the continued fighting and presence of mines which planted in every corner, they could not access all the landmarks to document them as required. The sites were documented as following: Gate of Baghdad, part of the wall (from the south side to the February Street 23 ) – Qaser Al-Banat and Al-Raqqa Museum. See extensive photos here.
Damage in Ja’aber Citadel
Recently the electric cables in the Citadel have been stolen, such that the stair that leads to the castle is devastated. See here.
Reports of damage in Idlib
Photos on Facebook allegedly show damage to archaeological sites in Idlib and a statement from the Director of Antiquities and Museums of Idlib. See here.
A video from the Directorate of Antiquities and Museums in Idlib allegedly shows damage to the Ebla archaeological site here.
Updates on Looting
Online German portal to combat illegal antiquities trafficking
Germany has launched a new online portal to help combat illegal trafficking of cultural objects. Read more on the Art Newspaper website here.
Syrians preserve Arabian horse-breeding traditions
Despite the obstacles, Syrian horse breeders are working to keep this traditional practice alive with organized races, festivals, and educational events. Read the Al Monitor article here.
UNESCO program to preserve Syrian musical heritage
The Action for Hope program is training displaced Syrian children to “preserve the musical heritage of Syria and the region, offering classes in theory and the history of Arabic music, and teaching students the oud or Buzuq, two-string instruments used in classical Arabic and Turkish music, as well as traditional songs from different parts of Syria and the region.” Read more in the Herald Courier here.
5000 year old recipe still in use
BQ Live writes here about the success of Taza Bake, a Syrian baker keeping his heritage alive by baking khobez made to a 5000-year-old recipe.
Reports and Updates from the Syrian People
New director of DGAM appointed
Dr. Mahmoud Hammoud, former regional Director of Damascus Province, has become the new Director General of Syria’s Antiquities and Museums.
We wish him every success in his new post, and thank his predecessor, Mamoun Abdulkarim, for his tireless and impressive work protecting Syria’s heritage throughout these difficult years. See further information here.
New development projects draw on Syria’s economic past
Reconstruction through the New Silk Road project connects Syria’s ancient history as a trade hub, and may help promote peace and development in the region.
Read more on the Syria Times website here.
Syrian Army takes control of archaeological sites
According to SANA, the Syrian Army has taken control in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor, including of the archaeological sites around Halbia, Zalbia and al-Qasabi.
Read more on the Al-Manar website here.
Policy Changes and Updates from Syria
The Sixth International meeting on Syria releases statement
Following the international Astana meeting, Iran, Russia and Turkey have released a statement which includes commitments to preserving heritage in Syria.
Read more on the AhlulBayt News Agency website here.
Training for international customs officers to protect cultural objects
The World Customs Organization organized the first WCO MENA training session for customs officers to prevent the illicit trafficking of cultural artifacts, 18-21 September 2017. Read more on the WCO website here.
ASOR article on international monitoring of Syrian cultural heritage
“The American Schools of Oriental Research Cultural Heritage Initiatives: Monitoring Cultural Heritage in Syria and Northern Iraq by Geospatial Imagery”. By Michael Danti, Scott Branting and Susan Penacho.
Download the free article here.
International exhibit highlights Syrian heritage
The Musée des Maîtres et artisans du Québec is currently featuring work by Syrian artists examining their heritage and the history of Syrian civilization, now through 28 September 2017. Read more on the Syria Times website here.
Syrian culture celebrated in Tunis
Syrian culture week began on 25 September in Tunis. Events will feature Syria crafts, books, films and lectures.
Read more on the Syria Times here. Other cities are celebrating as well, as reported by TAP here.
(Not covered in other sections)
The Hurriyet Daily News examines the daily life of current Aleppo residents here.
Iconem’s video “Aleppo: A Battered Voice” is a two minute video of 2017 footage showing the destruction of the Ummayad Mosque, Central Souk and the area around the Citadel of Aleppo. Watch the video on Youtube here.
The Australian reports that Syrian and French experts are using 3D surveys and field visits to evaluate damage in Palmyra, which will take years and millions of dollars to rebuild. See more here.
The Hurriyet Daily News writes here about the condition of cultural artifacts housed at the National Museum of Damascus, which is itself currently undergoing restoration.
The annual Ursinus College international film festival began on 14 September 2017 with two films about Syria. Read more here.
The Daily Mail publishes photos here of damage in Palmyra. Although the pictures are not of new damage, they show the seriousness and scale of destruction.
The Canberra Times reports here on the global sale of illegally trafficked antiquities as “relics from the ruins of Palmyra and Nimrud are now openly for sale in London and elsewhere.”
The Journal of Commerce writes about digital techniques for preserving at-risk heritage objects and sites here.
Relief Web provides a summary of European Union measures created in response to the crisis in Syria, including the ongoing ban on trade of cultural heritage objects here.
The Eurasia Review discusses here the paradox of shared heritage and warfare. “The preservation of Heritage is important not only for providing future generations with a sense of ancestral history, but it can also play a vital role in bridging gaps and fissures created over centuries of enmity and warfare.”
Phys.org examines here how researchers can stop the plundering of cultural treasures.
The Daily Star writes about the work of late historian Nancy Dupree, discussing the importance of preserving cultural heritage and mentioning the work of Syrian archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad. See the article here.
Peter Herdrich of the Antiquities Coalition and Digital Library of the Middle East project writes here about how to protect cultural heritage from atrocities.
Dr. Mahmoud Hammoud, former regional Director of Damascus Province, has become the new Director General of Syria’s Antiquities and Museums. Read about it here (Arabic)
Syria’s heritage is often for open sale, yet police art units are being shut down. Read more on the Canberra Times website here.
PBS reports here on how social and online media are vital tools in tracking the ongoing cultural heritage destruction in Iraq and Syria. ASOR CHI staff members Michael Danti, Allison Cuneo, Susan Penacho, and Marina Gabriel are interviewed.