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, availbale here.
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HFP staff attended an international conference on conflict looting in Brussels on September 15 and 16. See the press release here. European MEPs discussed how best to change legislation to combat hte illict trafficking in anqtiquities.
Updates on Damage
(Demolition at Palmyra. Photo source: DGAM)
Da’esh intentionally destroying heritage sites
The DGAM released photos on September 11 2015 of Da’esh putting explosives into the Temple of Bel, which can be found here.
On 14 September 2015, a video emerged purporting to show Da’esh destroying the Monastery of St. Elian in Syria, which can be viewed here, or from the Clarion Project here.
Damage to Palmyra
In a touching article, Peter Oborne, writing for Middle East Eye, interviews a solidier who witnessed the destruction at Palmyra. Read the interview here.
According to an activist Twitter feed, the citadel at Palmyra was hit in air raids on 21 and 24 September. The report is unverified, and the extent of damage unknown.
Updates on Looting
Preventing sale of looted artefacts proves a challenge
The BBC reports Dr Mark Altaweel’s warning that black-market antiquities are showing up in London in “Stolen Artefacts from IS-controlled Zones Surface in London” on September 18 2015 here.
First proof of ‘looting-to-order’?
In the face of the controversy over the existence of the art-trade phenomenon, Dr Samuel Hardy has written a freely available article arguing that ‘looting-to-order’ is really happening (September 14 2015). See here for the article.
Reports and Updates from the Syrian People
Memorial held for Qassem Yiyha
The DGAM held a memorial at the National Museum in Damascus for Qassem Yiyha, who was killed by a mortar round on September 12 2015. For more information, see here.
Syrians work to protect their heritage from destruction
Jeremy Bowen for The New Statesmen writes an excellent article covering Syrian efforts to save antiquities on September 22 2015 here.
ABC news reports on efforts by Syrian archaeologists to safeguard artefacts from ISIS in “The Fight to Save Syria’s Antiquities from ISIS” (September 16 2015) here.
“All over the world, civilians are quietly doing their bit. I met Samir, a 24-year-old archaeology student and opposition activist from Damascus, who regularly crossed the border from Turkey into Syria to chart missing artefacts. He told me that the commanders of Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra (an al–Qaeda affiliate) were making money by selling off the most valuable antiquities. Samir was shot dead near Aleppo three months ago by a smuggling gang that works with the Islamists.”
In Meet the men taking up arms to protect the Middle East’s ancient treasures, in the Spectator.
Policy Changes and Updates from Syria
Conferences highlight Syrian heritage
A conference was held on Sofia under Norwegian auspices on September 16 2015 to address looting in Syria, reported by DGAM here.
UK Blue Shield have set up a list of courses, talks, and conferences on cultural heritage in conflict and natural disasters. The list can be viewed here, and is updated regularly.
Archaeologists offer tribute to Khaled al-Assad
Australian archaeologists gathered on September 19 2015 to honour Khaled al-Assad, the archaeologist who lost his life to Da’esh. For full details and discussion, see here.
Photo documentation of Palmyra requested for possible future restoration
[From their page] “Heritage of Syria needs your help …..
We are starting a very important photo project, documenting images of Palmyra and it’s artefacts taken by individuals, tourists or private collectors.
All the images collected will be kept in a special file to be used in any future restoration project.
The best of these images collected will be used in a photo exhibition in a prominent international museum and other places.
If you have visited Palmyra in the past and have taken some photos of the ruins or you have photographed items inside Palmyra museum or
If you know of anyone who have a private collection and like to help then please send me as many images as you wish on this E mail:
The images sent should be from your own private collection or from friends , not from books or internet ( please supply with each photo your name, nationality of the owner and date of the image taken, please indicate if you like your name to be on display if your photo included in the exhibition.
Thank you very much in advance…. Admin Ibn ( Helen )
Please send all your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org”
ASOR posts report
The ASOR has released its latest weekly report (#51/52) via the Cultural Heritage Initiatives, which can be found here.
Near Eastern Archaeology journal publishes special issue
The journal Near Eastern Archaeology released a special volume entitled “The Cultural Heritage Crisis in the Middle East” with articles along this theme. The special issue is available free of charge, courtesy of ASOR, here.
(Not covered in other sections)
Looting and destruction of Syria’s heritage in the news
James Cuno for the Wall Street Journal (September 21 2015) calls for UN forces and more active protection of museums in “Saving Antiquities from Islamic State.” (Subscription required).
The BBC has posted a video remembering Palmyra on September 15 2015, which can be found here.