Damage to Syria’s heritage – 16 June 2018



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

16 June 2018

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

Conference presentation

Our Chair, Isber Sabrine, spoke on The role of Syrian civil society in the protection of  cultural heritage during conflict, including the work of Heritage for Peace, at the international conference Science for Preservation of Cultural Heritage at Risk, on 13 June.

Updates on Damage

“A video still from the video published by al-Dahar al-Shamiya (now removed) shows excavators in use at the site of Tekla, with the facade of the 5th-century church circled in red (Al-Dahar al-Shamiya; October 24, 2017)”. Shared by ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives.

Bulldozing at Tekla 

Satellite imagery analysed by the ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives indicates bulldozing at the dead city of Tekla.

Graffiti at Palmyra 

The Facebook page Coordination of the Syrian revolution in the city of Palmyra shared three photos of graffiti at Palmyra (here, here and here).

Updates on Looting

  • None

Intangible Heritage

Storytelling tradition returning to Damacus

During Ramadan, traditional storytelling and poetry reciting are being revitalized in the cafes of Damascus.
Read more in the SANA article here.

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Aleppo restoration continues 

Aleppo Archaeology shared a video by Al Mayadeen TV of the reconstruction of the Great Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo.

Khan al-Wazir, a centuries-old caravanserai in the old city of Aleppo, is reviving with traditional music, folklore, and crafts. Read more in the Xinhua article here.

DGAM review protection and restoration plans 

The Director General of the DGAM has been touring Syria to meet with the various regional departments to review the plans for restoration and protection. Details of the tour, and photos, are available on the DGAM website.

A mosaicist restores endangered mosaics 

Young mosaic artist Muhannad al-Tawil is restoring mosaics in museums in Sweida.
Read more on the Syria Times website here.

Property Law 10 

Syrbanism shared a video on Facebook explaining the new Property Law No.10 in Syria and its consequences on the reconstruction of Syrian cities.

Training workshops continue in Jazira province

The Association for Tourism and the Protection of Antiquities is continuing to run training workshops with more details available on their website. The awareness training workshop runs for a whole week for a group of students from the University of Roj-Ava and the University of Qorutba and from various European countries, and consists of lectures about archaeological sites in the areas of the Khabour basin, in addition to field tours of some archaeological sites. The project also aims to introduce the importance of the history of these sites and how to protect it and how to involve young people in it.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

Syria ratifies UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects

Syria has joined forty-two other state parties as a signatory to the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention which aims to fight the illicit trade in cultural objects. See more information on the DGAM website here, and on ARCA blog here.

International Activity

Russian archaeologists propose Palmyra reconstruction

Russian archaeologists have submitted proposals on restoring the Temple of Baal Shamin, and are hoping to continue their proposed excavations at the site. See more here.

Aleppo Project survey about historic shopping areas  

The Aleppo Project is conducting a survey on the historic shopping areas of Aleppo. It asks anyone from Aleppo to complete the the survey on the Aleppo Project website (English and Arabic available) here.

Syrians receiving restoration training in Japan 

Syrian officials in charge of cultural heritage received training in antiquities preservation and restoration at the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara in Nara Prefecture and other locations.
Read more on the Mainichi website here.

Researchers reconstruct lost clay tablets 

Dutch archaeologists at the National Museum of Antiquities and Leiden University have reconstructed ancient clay tablets lost from Syrian museum depots. Read more here.

Museum features Syrian artists and traditional cultural elements 

The Langley Centennial Museum is opening a special exhibit on contemporary Syrian art, showcasing Syrian history and culture.
Read more in the Langley Times here.

US food festival features Syrian cuisine

The Refugee Food Festival in New York will feature traditional Syrian cuisine by chef Diaa Alhanoun, according to foodandwine.com.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • The Conversation here warned about the drawbacks and limitations of using satellite imagery to evaluate damage at heritage sites, including those in Iraq and Syria.
  • ABC News here reported on the trafficking of Syrian antiquities into Western art markets.
  • Borgen Magazine here reported on how Syrians are fighting to retain their cultural art and music practices.
  • The Kyiv Post here wrote about the experiences of Syrians living in Ukraine.
  • Heritage Daily wrote about the history of illegal trade in antiquities, using Syria as one modern example.

This mailing list was produced by Dr Emma Cunliffe, in association with Heritage for Peace
Copyright © 2018 Heritage for Peace, All rights reserved.

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