Damage to Syria’s Heritage – 04 May 2018


Damage to Syria’s Heritage

04 May 2018

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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Main Contents

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


New from Heritage for Peace

  • None

Updates on Damage

Flooding at Bosra as-Sham.  Copyright: Photo by Reuters/Alaa al Faqir, Al-Monitor

Flooding at Bosra as-Sham

Reuters / Al-Monitor have shared a photo of flooding after a rainstorm at the World Heritage site of the 2nd Century Theatre at Bosra. Additional photos have been released by Nabamedia agencies. Whether any damage has been caused has been unclear. The Facebook page Syrian archaeological sites under the crisis has also shared some photos, and the Straits Times has published a news article.

Unconfirmed report of damage to Banabel Column

According to an unconfirmed report on Twitter from Aymenn J Al-Tamimi, the Banabel column (historical monument) in Idlib has been destroyed by people looking for gold. He has also released a video of the damage.

The Destruction of Tell Ajaja by ISIS

A new video has been released by AFP TV in  Tell  Ajaja. In the east of Syria (Hassaka) – Assyrian period was destroyed by (ISIS). This video shows how ISIS used bulldozers to find archaeological objects.

Damage in Raqqa

The Authority for Tourism and the Protection of Antiquities in al-Jazira released photos of the Museum of Al-Raqqa, the wall, and the Baghdad Gate.

ASOR published February 2018 monthly report

The  ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives February 2018 Monthly Report is now available.

  • Reported SARG barrel bombs severely damaged al-Nur Mosque in Eastern Ghouta, Rif Dimashq Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 18-0057
  • Reported Turkish military construction encroached on the archaeological site of Tekla in Jebel Semaan, Aleppo Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 17-0212 UPDATE
  • Heavy machinery destroyed the Khan Hamu al-Qadu in Mosul, Ninawa Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 18-0003
  • New photographs show illegal excavation at Tell Huwaish near Jirnaf, Salah ad Din Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 18-0004
  • An IED damaged Saad bin Obadah Mosque in Benghazi, Cyrenaica. ASOR CHI Incident Report LHI 18-0007
  • Reported armed extremists destroyed the Mosque of Sheikh Ahmed Barakat al-Ansari in Ajaylat, Tripolitania. ASOR CHI Incident Report LHI 18-0006

Updates on Looting

  • None

Intangible Heritage

#CookForSyria to celebrate traditional Syrian cuisine 

This June, UNICEF will join with Australia’s best chefs to celebrate traditional Syrian cuisine and historical cultural influences. Learn more on the UNICEF website.

Syrian musical heritage celebrated in Jordan 

At the Azraq camp in Jordan, traditional taarab ballads help Syrians reconnect with their musical heritage. Read more online at African News website.

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Aleppo event celebrates Syrian cultural traditions

Aleppo Citadel’s amphitheatre hosted the “Aleppo, the Beating of the Heart” event which included folk dances and traditional musical performances. Learn more on the SANA website.

Geological museum shares Syrian history and culture 

Professor Fawaz Azki has opened the first Syrian geological museum, where displays are dedicated to the cultural, educational and scientific heritage of Syria.
Read the full Syria Times online article.

Aleppo art exhibition showcases historic city landmarks 

An art exhibition in Aleppo’s al-Sabil Park features painting of the city’s historic sites and ancient architecture. Learn more on the SANA website here.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

Displaced people may lose private property

A new law could potentially see the state confiscating the property of displaced people, with major implications for reconstruction. Legislation could allow government confiscate properties of displaced Syrians unless they prove ownership in 30 days.
Read the full Al Jazeera article here.

International Activity

Arab engineers to discuss reconstruction in Iraq and Syria 

The Federation of Arab Engineers and IFP (International Fairs and Promotions) will jointly host a major summit in Baghdad this October to discuss the reconstruction of the destroyed cities in Iraq and Syria. Read more on the Trade Arabia website.

Astana Statement calls for improved Syrian heritage protection

Following the UNSC resolution and Astana Peace Process, Iran, Russia and Turkey have issued a joint statement on Syria calling for improved heritage protection. Learn more on Mehr News online.

Google initiative makes Syrian heritage site available to the public

Open Heritage, a collaboration between CyArk and Google Arts and Culture, documents endangered heritage sites, providing open data for the public. Sites include Syria’s Al Azem palace.
Read more on Wired.

Beirut conferences addresses Syrian cultural heritage 

A discussion at the American University of Beirut gathered participants from Lebanon and abroad to discuss protection of cultural heritage throughout the Middle East, including Syrian sites.
Read the full Geneva Call article online here.

Museums display Syrian artifacts 

The Getty Villa reopened after a year of renovation and re-installation intended to better place objects in their historical context. Items include artifacts from Syria, such as 1st – 3rd funerary relief portraits from Palmyra. Read the full New York Times article here.

The Urkesh tour has now reached Italy – A number of photos are available on the ATPA Facebook page.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • AlHakam Shaar of the Aleppo Project talks about the future of the project and the need to involve returning Syrians in the processes of reconstruction here.
  • The Independent published an account of a tour guide who worked in Syria reflecting on historic sites and the recent damage: “I felt such great pride when people, who would come from great countries such as Britain, found my country fascinating. Tourists would say to me that they now understand how Syria’s history has contributed to world religions and civilisations.”
  • Apollo Magazine wrote here about the ongoing exhibit at the Penn Museum which includes Syrian cultural artifacts.
  • News Deeply reported here on the need to include Aleppo’s local population in urban planning and reconstruction efforts.
  • The Guardian reported here on the recent damage to Mari. No new information, but a succinct history and overview of damage.
  • Stepfeed published an article here about historic sites destroyed by Daesh, including (apparently) the Roman Theatre in Bosra. Presumably they mean the theatre at Palmyra, since all the flooding photos confirm the state of the theatre at Bosra.

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