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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Damaged mosaic at Maarat al-Numaan Museum. Copyright, Idleb Antiquities Center .
Damage in Idleb
On 12 February Idleb Antiquities posted images showing illegal building in Tel-Afes archaeological site in Idlib. Available here.
On 11 February Idleb Antiquities posted images showing the damage of Maarat al-Numaan Museum (comparisons between 2010 and 2016). Available here.
The state of Palmyra
According to the head of Syrian Museums, 95% of Palmyra’s archaeology is safe, in Masrawy here.
According to China.org on Feb 13th, “A Russian drone has detected an increased movement of IS trucks in Palmyra, which indicates that the terrorists are delivering explosives to further damage the architectural relics before their retreat, said the ministry.” See more here.
The Russian drone footage also shows the damage to Palmyra here.
Damage in Aleppo
On 11 February, Aleppo Archaeology shared photos showing the damage of Khan Kheir Biek in Aleppo. Available here.
New aerial footage is available showing the damage to the Grand Umayyad Mosque, Aleppo, here.
The DGAM shared photos of damage to Al-Hulwiah Madrasa, Khan Al-Olabieh, Khan Al-Salahieh and Masbaneit Al-Jabaily in old Aleppo here, and to Al-Adlieh Mosque, Al-Sfahieh Mosque, Al-Shibani Church, Bimarstan Al-Araghoni and Farhat Church here.
Reports on site damage
We have recently been made aware of reports on the work of the Authority of Tourism and Protection of Antiquities in al-Jazira Canton (with thanks to the UNESCO Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian Cultural Heritage project) Reports include damage to sites in the Balikh Basin, and the Euphrates Valley, amongst others. Reports are available on their website, here.
Updates on Looting
ICOM workshops to prevent illicit trafficking
ICOM – International Council of Museums – organised a two-day working meeting in February to talk about practical tools in the identification of trafficked art and heritage. Thanks to the active participation of a select group of experts from INTERPOL HQ, World Customs Organisation, UNESCO, French, Italian and Spanish police forces, NGOs and academia, they were able to clearly identify new areas of development for the ICOM Red List of Cultural Objects at Risk series. Photos of the event are available on Facebook.
Reports and Updates from the Syrian People
DGAM publish annual Address
The DGAM have published their annual address – A New Year after Years of Tragedy Besetting Cultural Heritage of Syria: 2017 – available here.
Restoration work ongoing at Tell Beydar
The Authority of Tourism and Protection of Antiquities in al-Jazira Canton has released a report and pictures of restoration work at Tell Beydar, here.
Policy Changes and Updates from Syria
Chechen government to restore Aleppo’s Grand Mosque
Chechen authorities have decided to rebuild the mosque and the minaret of the Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo, potentially through the controversial Kadyrov Foundation, according to GeoPolmonitor here.
Russian reconstruction approved
“The Russian Ministry of Culture is preparing an agreement with Hermitage Museum and other cultural institutes to reconstruct monuments damaged by terrorism in Syria, the director of the Russian Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg Mikhail Piotrovsky says. […] Piotrovsky asserted that the recovery of antiquities stolen by terrorist organizations is a ‘matter of honor’. “Palmyra’s antiquities must be restored” “, according to The Syrian Times here.
Italy restores Palmyrene busts
Italy is restoring two busts from the Palmyra Museum that were damaged by ISIS. The busts – a male and a female – reached Italy after an adventurous journey across borders and checkpoints, thanks to an agreement between Italy’s “Incontro di Civiltà” (Meeting of Civilisations) Association and the Directorate for Antiquities in Damascus. The male bust has damage to the face due to hammer blows inflicted upon it by ISIS, but restorers are preparing a sophisticated 3D print with sintering of nylon powders that will give it back its delicate aristocratic features. The female bust has been restored fragment by fragment, with a veil that covers the head and jewels that hold a cape on the shoulder. The busts were on display at an exhibition at the Colosseum titled “Reborn from Destruction: Ebla, Nimrud, Palmyra” and are now in the hands of the High Institute for Conservation and Restoration (ISCR), which will return them to Syria at the end of the month. Read more in ANSA here.
IKEA provides work for Syrian refugees
IKEA has announced plans to sell rugs made by Syrian refugees, according to the Independent here.
Road to Damascus: Australian artist Luke Cornish unveiled Syria-inspired exhibition for SBS News here.
(Not covered in other sections)
Ross Burns writes for the IRIS, explaining why cultural heritage monuments in Palmyra and Aleppo have been used as weapons of war here.
The High Commission for UNHCR, United Nations Refugee Agency, visited Aleppo, and reported back here.
Article featuring Aleppo Souq by the Aleppo Project, here.
Reactions to the controversial Damascus colloquium in December are featured in the Yale News here.
CNBC reports on the challenge of stopping the illegal looting and trafficking of objects from Syrian sites here.
Syria exhibit tells a rich multicultural history of hope and resilience – The Ismaeli reports on the Syria: a Living History exhibition, here.