Damage to Syria’s heritage – 04 September 2017


Damage to Syria’s Heritage

04 September 2017

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

Damage around  Qasir Alhir Alsharqi.    Copyright DGAM.

 Qasr Alhir Alsharqi  

The DGAM has published 2 photos of Qasr Alhir Alsharqi on its website here.

Updats from Raqqa  

“The US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces claim they have captured Raqqa’s Old City from the Islamic State, but some observers said fighting continues in the area. The SDF, which began the assault on the city in early June but had been held up for weeks after breaching the Old City walls, said on Friday that the takeover was complete. However, the US military was more cautious, as clashes were reported in the Bosaira neighborhood”. Read more by EA WorldView here. At least 860 civilians were killed in the operations and the damage to heritage has yet to be assessed.

An exclusive video from the Authority of Tourism and Protection of Antiquities shows part of the archaeological wall of Raqqa here.

ASOR publishes June 2017 monthly report 

ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives June 2017 Monthly Report is now available here.

  • Islamic factions are firing on Syrian-Kurdish opposition forces from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Qala’at Simeon (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 17-0112).
  • Satellite imagery revealed damage to Syrian site of Heraqla concurrent with its recapture from ISIL by the SDF (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 17-0106)
  • Caches of artifacts were discovered in houses in Mosul (ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 17-0039).
  • ISIL intentionally destroyed al-Nuri al-Kabir Mosque and al-Hadba Minaret (ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 17-0045).
  • Satellite imagery and news reports confirm damage to the historic Libyan city of Benghazi (ASOR CHI Incident Report LHI 17-0005)

Updates on Looting

  • None

Intangible Heritage

Safeguarding Cultural Heritage through Aleppian Cuisine 

The Aleppo Project writes about the cuisine of Aleppo and the need to preserve this aspect of Syrian cultural heritage. “With up to 60% of the city destroyed, much of its heritage damaged, and many of its people driven into exile, there is a real danger that the centuries-old food heritage may well be lost.”
Read the full article on the Aleppo Project website here.

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums participates at Damascus International Fair

The DGAM participated in the 59th Damascus International Fair, where they showed pictures and information on the damage caused to archaeological sites, and the plan of action the DGAM followed for the rapid and systematic intervention at the sites and buildings affected, as well as their cooperation with international and local organisations concerned with the Syrian cultural heritage here.

ATPA documents heritage sites

The archaeological sites in the middle Euphrates valley have been documented in a post (8/5/ 2017) from ATPA (PDF here) and documented some of archaeological sites recently liberated by Syrian Democratic forces here.
There is also a report about archaeological sites in Al Hol area by ATPA  here.
Tell Badiri ,Tell Taban, and Tell Teninir have also been documented here.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

  • None

International Activity

Turkish foundation helps rebuild mosques in Aleppo

The Turkiye Diyanet Foundation has embarked on a mission to rebuild and renovate mosques, open Sharia education workshops and provide jobs for hundreds of people in newly liberated areas of Aleppo province.
Read more on Al-Monitor here.

Preserving Syrian heritage through crafts 

The Turquoise Mountain Foundation has helped preserve Afghanistan’s heritage by supporting artisans and craftsmen. Now the foundation is trying to recreate its success by focusing on craftsmen from Syria, “which is also seeing ancient traditions threatened by an exodus of artisans.”
Read more on the New 18 website here.

New model to value heritage sites  

Singaporean researchers are trying to build a new model that can effectively value heritage sites within the existing cultural framework. The model could be useful for any cultural heritage locations.
Read more on the City Lab website here.

Syrian artisans featured in international events  

  • City of Asylum’s Jazz Poetry Month will include Syrian artists and is free to the public. 7 September – 1 October, 2017 in Pittsburgh, PA (USA). View a schedule on the Alphabet City website here.
  • Work by Syrian artists was displayed at the International Calligraphy Exhibition in Islamabad. Read more on the International News website here.

UNESO calls for assessment of Syrian heritage sites 

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova has requested examination and reinforcement of Syrian World Heritage sites impacted by conflict.
Read more on Sputnik News here.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • US News reports on the technologies used to track cultural artifacts, and these options could be useful in Syria. Read more here.
  • Tech Radar explains the challenges and future potentials of photogrammetry, a technique used to recreate and 3D print the Monumental Arch of Palmyra. Read more here.
  • Global Voices examines the current conditions of some major Syrian cultural heritage sites. Read the article here.
  • Politico writes about the growth of ‘small-dollar terrorism’ and funding from sources such as the trafficking of Syrian cultural objects. “As extremist attacks get cheaper, it’s time to find smarter ways to track and block the money behind them.” See here.
  • USA Today provides further details on the Hobby Lobby case. “The arrest of five antiquities dealers who allegedly helped Hobby Lobby purchase illegally obtained ancient artifacts has shone a spotlight on the sale of antiquities in Israel and revived questions about the ethics of the trade in general.” Read more here.
  • The New York Times writes about an unexpected consequence of the Grenfell Tower fire. After the fire, the Metropolitan Police’s transferred its art and antiques officers to the fire investigation team; as a result, London’s art trade is no longer supervised by specialist officers who could identify and prevent the trafficking of cultural objects. See more here.
  • The New Jersey Herald reports on how Syrian refugees bring their heritage and cultural identifies to refugee camps. Read more online here.

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