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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Quoting the Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology (APSA), The Telegraph states on October 3 that Palmyra continues to be plundered, even though it is protected by Russian and Syrian forces. See report here.
Stolen Antiquities found in Idlib
Ahrar al-Sham have apparently discovered stolen antiquities after raiding a Jund al-Aqsa base in Idlib countryside, here.
Reports and Updates from the Syrian People
DGAM participates in cultural heritage protection training
The DGAM sent 8 of its personnel to the current course organised by ICCROM-ATHAR in in Sharjah (see below under International Activity). See reports here and here.
For a week, UNESCO and the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) trained Syrian experts on best practices for safeguarding and digitising manuscripts, historic document and archives here.
Syria meets with Czech envoy to discuss heritage preservation
According to SANA, the Syrian Minister for Culture met with the Czech Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs to discuss cultural cooperation, in particular means of preserving ruins and heritage. Talks during the meeting concentrated on the way through which the Czech side can help Syria rehabilitate and restore what has been destroyed of antiquities at the hands of armed terrorist groups. The DGAM have also reported on this.
Syrian refugees guide visitors in Berlin
Syrian and Iraqi refugees, trained as guides, lead visitors through museum galleries in Berlin. See the article from the Art Newspaper here.
Policy Changes and Updates from Syria
Intentional destruction of heritage is a war crime
The new report from the OHCHR calls intentional heritage destruction a war crime and a violation of human rights here.
The nine year sentence for Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi in the International Criminal Court for the destruction of shrines in Mali is hoped to stand as a deterrent to attacks on heritage sites elsewhere. See the report from the Guardian here.
In two excellent articles, see further reflection from the Art Newspaper here and the Economist here.
Cultural heritage preservation training in Sharjah
The ICCROM-ATHAR centre at Sharjah is conducting training on protecting cultural heritage in war zones. See further information here.
Russians in Syria
The Russians will send an archaeological delegation to Syria later this year to examine damage to sites in northern Syria. See more information here.
UNESCO report calls for further steps to protect heritage
The new report from the UNODC/UNESCO/INTERPOL initiative “Protecting Cultural Heritage – An Imperative for Humanity” calls for better efforts to combat terrorists and looters, with a number of recommendations. See the brief here.
UNDP personnel have cleared rubble and conducted restoration work at the old souk in Homs here.
Replicas of destroyed Syrian artefacts displayed in Rome
Replicas of Syrian and Iraq archaeological artefacts destroyed by ISIS have been installed in Rome. See the New York Times report here.
Update on French Cultural Protection fund
It has been widely reported that the French President Hollande announced a $100 million cultural protection fund. It should be noted that according to his original speech (here) this fund is aspirational.
Artist visits Syria, pays tribute
Australian stencil artist Luke Cornish travelled from his country to Syria to see with his own eyes what is happening. He painted a portrait of Khaled al-Asaad in the Amphitheater where he was executed. Cornish added “I wanted to paint this portrait of Khaled al-Asaad to pay homage to his sacrifice, a symbolic gesture of returning his head to the place that it was taken away, a place he dedicated his life, and ultimately sacrificed it, to protect.” He also paid tribute to the kind and hopeful spirit of the Syrians he met there.
Read the full article in SANA here.
Japanese research builds 3D model of Temple of Baal
A Japanese researcher has built a 3D model of the Temple of Baal at Palmyra which he hopes can be used for reconstruction, here.
Greek database records mosaics
A database of mosaics, a legacy of work conducted by the European Center of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monuments in Thessaloniki, now forms a precious cultural resource here.
(Not covered in other sections)
In the latest edition of Tvergastein, The Interdisciplinary Journal of the Environment, the “urbicide” of Aleppo is examined here.
The Gulf Daily News publishes a series of then-and-now pictures of Aleppo here.
Forbes opinion piece asks, “Is 3D printing the heritage of Syria ethical?” here.
The Conversation looks at the utility of tourist photos in preserving images of destroyed sites here.
UNESCO highlights the importance of signing and ratifying its 6 culture conventions here.
Diana Darke reviews a series of new books about Syria for the Times Literary Supplement, recommending in particular those focusing not only on Syria’s past, but on its present.