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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Vandalism at Palmyra. Photo copyright: Coordinating revolution in the city of Palmyra
Vandalism at Palmyra
On 1 July, the Palmyra Coordination Facebook Page release a picture of vandalism on what appears to be the base of a column in the city’s archaeological ruins. The page states that a Russian soldier defaced the base by writing “Grozny” in Russian, apparently in reference to the Russian military clampdown on the Chechen uprisings. The post is available here.
Raqqa city wall damaged
“Coalition forces besieging Raqqa have punched two small holes in the Rafiqah Wall that surrounds the Old City.” The wall is part of the Tentative World Heritage site.
Read more on the Newsweek website here and Fox News here.
Damage to Al-Umari Mosque
Tamim Mamoun Mardam Bey has uploaded a number of photos of damage to the Al-Umari mosque, here and here.
Damage in Al-Jazira Canton
The Authority of Tourism and Protection of Antiquities in Al-Jazira Canton has documented sites in Al Hasaka area ( TellAvgir Tahtani – Tell Avgir Foqani – Tell Alo – Tell Ma’ak – Tell Mansur ), available here.
ASOR publishes May 2017 monthly report
ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives May 2017 Monthly Report is now available here.
New video shows ISIL militants intentional destruction of antiquities in Deir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria. (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 17-0081)
An old house in Aleppo was purchased and is being dismantled for transport to Lebanon. (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 17-0086)
New photographs show damage to the Maltai Reliefs in Iraq. (ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 17-0026)
New photographs were released of damage to the Mosul University Library. (ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 17-0016 UPDATE)
ASOR publishes April 2017 monthly report
ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives April 2017 Monthly Report is now available here.
New reporting reveals scope of damage to Omar Ibn al-Khattab Mosque in al-Jeineh, Aleppo Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 17-0038 UPDATE
Reported Russian airstrikes damage an Ottoman-era hammam (bathhouse) in Sarmin, Idlib Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 17-0072
New video footage provides more information on ISIL looting of the ancient site of Nineveh. ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 15-0097 UPDATE
Popular Mobilization Front (PMF) captures the ancient site of Hatra from ISIL. ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 17-0024
New photographs show the dismantling of a historic house in the Old City of Derna in Libya. ASOR CHI Incident Report LHI 17-0001
Updates on Looting
DGAM recovers antiquities
Authorities in Palmyra have recovered four funeral busts dating from the second and third centuries, which were reportedly looted by ISIS.
Read more on the DGAM website here, and the Syrian Arab News Agency website here.
Antiquities recovered in Al-Jazira Canton
The Authority of Tourism and Protection of Antiquities in Al-Jazira Canton released a statement reporting the discovery of a numerous damaged antiquities ranging from broken pottery, skeletons, stone tools, various other artifacts. According to the authority, the majority of these items were stolen from a German archaeological mission’s home in Tell Mnbq and an American one in Tell Al-Swihat. Read the full article, Stolen Mission House, here.
New mosaic found at looted site
The Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities & Museums announced that they had found a new ground mosaic panel dating back to the 4th century at Wadi Barada in the Damascus Countryside. The mosaic spans roughly 50 sq.m. and is part of an archaeological site that has been subject to various looting over the recent years. Read the full article on the DGAM website, The Discovery of a Mosaic Panel in Wadi Barada, here, and on the Syria Times website here.
Reports and Updates from the Syrian People
Idlib training course for cultural property protection
On June 30th 2017, the Idlib Antiquities Center announced that they had set up a workshop that is to last 5 months, aimed at developing laws for the protection of cultural property and archaeological sites in the governorate of Idlib, in cooperation with the following organisations: Lawyers for Justice, Nasra Al Malzoum Center, the Bar Association, and a representative from the Interim Government. A video has also been released. The post, including photographs, is available here.
Kurdish Security forces to protect sites
The Authority for Tourism and Preservation of Antiquities in Al-Jazira Canton has worked with the Kurdish Security Forces (Al-Asayish) to a general statement to all the military institutions which are under its leadership to comply to fully collaboration with the ATPA in safeguarding the archaeological sites in Al Jazira Canton and northern of Syria. Read more here.
Appeal to protect Ja’bar Citadel
The Authority for Tourism and Preservation of Antiquities in Al-Jazira Canton has issued an appeal to the relevant institutions to intervene and protect the Ja’bar Citadel, which has recently been liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). It has just been documented by the authority, and pictures of the site can be seen in the post, available here
Al-Jazira site inventory in preparation
The Authority for Tourism and Preservation of Antiquities in Al-Jazira Canton hare working to prepare an inventory of sites in their area. As part of this process, they are documenting them. Read more here.
Syrians represent their culture at the Shubback Festival in London
The Shubbak festival of contemporary Arab culture includes presentations and performances by Syrians, and events which examine how artists “are responding to the threat to cultural heritage.” (London, 1 – 16 July 2017).
Learn more on the Broadway World website here.
Syrian music heritage promoted in Lebanon festival
“During the Global Week for Syria festival, musicians came together in Lebanon’s capital to promote Syrian music and to keep hope alive as Syrian artists are scattered throughout the region.”
Read more on the Al-Monitor website here.
Policy Changes and Updates from Syria
World Heritage Committee meets, fundraises for Aleppo
The 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee is taking place in Kraków, 2 – 12 July 2017.
Watch the livestream on YouTube here.
The World Heritage Committee focuses on Syria, even promoting a charity concert. “The 41st session of the World Heritage Committee will be accompanied by a charity event for the residents of Aleppo. It is planned to raise funds during the session (2-12 July), as well as a concert on the Wołyński Boulevard (July 9), where Kasia Kowalska, Sebastian Karpiel-Bułecka, Dariusz Malejonek and Halina Mlynkova will perform.” Read more on the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee website here.
UNESCO Reports on Cultural Heritage Project in Syria
A recent UN event, ‘Heritage in Danger’, presented “the results of a UNESCO project dedicated to the safeguard of cultural heritage in Syria.” Their response to protect culture in crises, current challenges, the importance of culture in emergency situations and human rights can be found on the UN Regional Information Center for Western Europe website here.
Acting Together Project handouts available
New from the Acting Together Project – Toolkit handouts now available in Arabic:
“Minimizing Risks of Harm” (in English or Arabic ) and “Planning Peacebuilding Performance Initiatives” (in English or Arabic)
Talks for demining monuments in Syria
Russia, Turkey and Iran are meeting to discuss de-escalation zones in Syria and “the humanitarian demining of Syria’s historical monuments that are on the UNESCO international cultural heritage list.”
Read more on the Al-Masdar News website here.
Global Week for Syria – Lebanon
“The Global Week for Syria festival will present Dutch, Swiss, Swedish, Norwegian, French, German, Azerbijiani, Turkish, Tunisian, Iraqi, Lebanese, and Syrian musicians, scholars and other cultural activists united to share their energy and mastery to encourage hope and belief in positive future.” June 28 – July 5
Learn more on the Facebook event here.
New exhibit on Syrian Museums and Art Heritage
“Textile artist Sarah Dodds is staging an exhibition at Richmond Station highlighting the many problems faced by museums such as those in Syria in times of conflict. Heritage Uncovered illustrates the many problems faced by museums during times of violence and destruction.”
Read more on the Northern Echo website here.
Optimism for Rebulding Palmyra
Following analysis, an archaeologist suggests that many parts of Palmyra can be rebuilt using “traditional methods.”
Read more on the ANSA Med website here.
(Not covered in other sections)
The Middle East Eye tells the story of Samer al-Kadri, a Syrian refugee who has opened Holland’s first Arabic bookstore in order to keep Syrian culture alive even outside of Syria. Read the full article here.
In an op-ed for News Deeply, the former British ambassador to Syria examines how the international community can help rebuild Syria and emphasizes the need to involve Syrians in the recovery processes. Read the article on News Deeply here.
Syrian musician Kenan Adnawi performs traditional Syrian music at the Montana Folk Festival (USA). Read more on the Missoulian website here.
The Financial Times examines the return of Syrians to Aleppo and their quest to reclaim culture and heritage. “The old city, at the heart of Aleppo between its east and west, bound together Syrians from all walks of life. They came to wander, shop or sell, as they had for centuries…” Read more on the FT website here.
Crafts supply store Hobby Lobby has been fined $3 million for smuggling ancient artifacts out of Iraq. Although this case deals with Iraqi antiquities, objects from Syria can follow similar paths. Read more on the New York Times website here.