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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The Association for Tourism and the Protection of Antiquities have released their 2017 report on the status of sites in Al-Jazira province. Available here.
Help needed for Aleppo Museum
Aleppo Archaeology have shared photos of a high water level in the Naitonal Museum of Aleppo, which are apparently submerging some of the artifacts. See the photos here.
Aleppo reconstruction licenses could be catastrophic
According to Tishreen News, a report into the types of repair licenses granted in Aleppo after liberation from armed terrorist gangs has revealed a large number of building violations in the areas registered with antiquities and in the old market areas and the area of Qal’at Halab. They express concerns that the work carried out in the real estate granted to those licenses is catastrophic and will result in the loss of major parts of the Old City.
Read more (in Arabic) here.
ASOR publishes January 2018 monthly report
The ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives January 2018 Monthly Report is now available here.
A reported Russian airstrike damaged al-Ma’arra Museum in Ma’arat al-Numan, Idlib Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 18-0002
A Byzantine tomb in al-Hasakah Governorate was restored in al-Farahia, al-Hasakah Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 18-0007
Alleged Turkish shelling damaged Tell Ain Dara Temple in Ain Dara, Aleppo Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 18-0028
Citizens decried the condition of Birs Nimrud (ancient Borsippa) in Babil Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 18-0002
A Christian cemetery in the Wadi ‘Ikab area was damaged in Mosul, Ninawa Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 18-0001
Heavy rains contributed to the collapse of a number of mud-brick buildings at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ghadames, Tripolitania. ASOR CHI Incident Report LHI 18-0002
The grave of Sheikh Mahdi al-Sanusi near Kufra, Cyrenaica was ransacked. ASOR CHI Incident Report LHI 18-0004
Updates on Looting
Engaging the European Art Market conference
A joint EU-UNESCO conference, Engaging the European Art Market in the Fight Against the Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property, will enhance the capacity of EU States and representatives from the private art market sector to protect cultural property within and beyond its borders. 20 – 21 March 2018. More details on the UNESCO website here.
Reports and Updates from the Syrian People
Syria protects international heritage materials at seed bank
The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Syria is one of fifteen major international agricultural research centers. “Remarkably, while ancient archaeological sites are destroyed and Syrian people experience inconceivable loss, the seed bank in Tal Hadya continues to operate.”
Learn more on the Alter Net website here.
Protection work continues in Al-Jazira Province
The Tourism Authority in Al-Jazira has begun its awareness-raising campaign by giving lectures in some villages with a view to identifying, protecting and maintaining archaeological sites. There is one lecture per week. See photos here.
A training workshop started on 16/2/18 to learn to draw pottery in an academic way and under the supervision of local expertise. It will continue for a month. (Photos here)
New archaeological discoveries in Aleppean rubble
New discoveries continue in the rubble of Aleppo, with new findings about the Victory Gate, shared by Aleppo Archaeology (here).
Policy Changes and Updates from Syria
Countering Looting of Antiquities of Antiquities from Syria and Iraq Project
In 2017 The Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TracCCC) at George Mason University received the State Department Bureau of Counterterrorism Grant for Research and Training on Illicit Markets for Iraqi and Syrian Art and Antiquities. See their website here.
The CLASI project’s goals are to:
1. Analyze the illicit trade in looted cultural property from Iraq and Syria with a particular emphasis on links to terrorist finance;
2. Develop information aimed at enabling law enforcement to investigate, interdict, and designate organizations and individuals involved in the trafficking; and
3. Use this information to develop training materials for law enforcement in partner nations.
At the present time, they are at the analysis stage using our multi-disciplinary and multi-lingual team to help us do the study. We are also supported by a group of data analyst specialists who have significant experience in the Middle East.
The Antiquities Coalition explored the CLASI Project with Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) Director, Dr. Louise Shelley, here.
The Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) and UNESCO signed a new agreement this week to supplement the financing of UNESCO’s Heritage Emergency Fund (HEF) with $2 million. The fund is used for emergency measures in several countries, including Syria. Learn more on Relief Web here.
WMF program teaches traditional Syrian stone masonry
An informative event will provide details about the World Monuments Fund’s Syrian Stonemasonry Training Programme, which has been working since 2017 to provide a group of Syrian refugees and Jordanian citizens with traditional stonemasonry skills. 6 March 2018, 18:30-21:00
Register on the Victoria and Albert Museum website here.
Protection of Cultural Heritage audio and videos available online
The speakers addressed strategies for protecting museums and heritage sites in instances of disasters. International experts came together with specialists at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, museums, institutes, and universities in Turkey to address the wide range of issues that damage, even obliterate cultural and historical heritage. The presentations discussed the variety of work carried out at different sites, museums, and regions, describing case studies. The workshop aimed to raise awareness of the problems museums may face in emergency situations and to offer a range of possible solutions.
ABC here published audio from “Protecting Cultural Property in Conflict: Critical Responsibility or Distraction?”, originally presented at the Heritage Under Fire symposium hosted by the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University on 2 February 2018.
Seminar on Syrian reconstruction
The Syrian Peace Action Centre (SPAC) and the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) co-hosted a seminar about establishing rights-based guiding principles to discuss reconstructing Syria.
More information on the PRIO website here.
Role of Media in Protection of Cultural Heritage
The first regional conference on the Role of Media in Protection of Cultural Heritage was held in Alexandria from 5-7 March 2018. Details of the event are here.
International appreciation for Syrian heritage
The 2018 Dubai Food Festival will feature the #CookForSyria initiative, a popup that includes a range of favorite Syrian dishes. Learn more on the Gulf News website here.
The Syria Times here reported that a Syrian sculptor’s work is on display in London, expressing cultural identity and elements of traditional culture.
Allure reported here on a new initiative that marries social consciousness and ethical fashion through a clothing line in collaboration with displaced Syrian women.
A collective exhibition called “Haneen” is in Beirut, showing paintings and poems by displaced Syrians. “Haneen,” which means “loving” in Arabic, is supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with local nongovernmental organization Beyond and Lebanese artist Chadi Aoun. The exhibition aims to show the healing nature of art in post-war therapy and to provide a bridge between the Syrian refugee children in Lebanon and Lebanese and Syrian artists. Thirty-nine poems whose stanzas are displayed in the exhibition are written by Syrian children, and 47 artists have interpreted them through paintings, drawings, sculptures and sound installations. The theme of the exhibition is what the war in Syria represents for the children. Read more in Al-Monitor here.
Kickstarter for digital reconstruction
The Arc/k Project here launched a new Kickstarter campaign to digitally reconstruct three Palmyra sites: the Roman Theatre, the Temple of Bel, and the Arch of Triumph.
Early 20th century photographs of Aleppo
The Victoria and Albert Museum will explore 3,000-plus photographs in “From Cairo to Aleppo: Exploring the Photographic Archive of K.A.C Creswsell.” 23 March 2018, 6-8pm
More details on the Arab British Centre website can be found here.
Reviving Palmyra publication available
GIM International wrote here about a new publication, Reviving Palmyra in Multiple Dimensions: Images, Ruins and Cultural Memory by Whittles Publishing (UK, 2018).
(Not covered in other sections)
Jean-Claude David writes about The Aleppo War 2012-2016. Destruction of the house Ghazalé (1/2), for ArchéOrient-The Blog, here.
The Scroll website here published an article about Syrian postage stamps depicting heritage sites that have been destroyed or endangered by conflict, including the Baal-Shamin temple in Palmyra and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.
The Syria Times wrote here about the famous cities, historical sites and numerous ruins awaiting visitors throughout the country.
ANSAmed estimated here that $470 billion will be required to rebuild monuments in Syria, quoting a member of the board of directors of the Aga Khan Islamic Museum.
Ahram online writes here about “The politics of cultural heritage. How can Western museums reconcile respect for cultural property with hogging the world’s antiquities“.
The Art Newspaper writes here about the shake ups caused by the New York district attorney’s new antiquities unit.