Damage to Syria’s heritage – 29 August 2018



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

29 August 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

  • None

Updates on Damage

  • None

Updates on Looting

A bas-relief displayed at the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad. Source: WPR.

New study shows social media helps antiquities traffickers

A new study shows Facebook and other social media channels are helping antiquities traffickers, writes Katie Paul of the Antiquities Coalition and Amr Al-Azm, ASOR CHI Co-Director and Director of The Day After Heritage Protection Initiative (TDA-HPI). You can read more on this at WPR.

Intangible Heritage

Festival celebrates Syrian culture and art

The recent Al-Sanabil festival in the Safita region of Tartous included different cultural and artistic elements. To read more on this click here.

Traditional crafts exhibited in Tartous

A crafts exhibition in Tartous showcases modern art pieces alongside traditional Syrian handicrafts and food products. You can read more at SANA.

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Syrian communities leave permanently   

Seven years of war in Syria have displaced half the country’s population and sent millions of Syrians abroad. Many vulnerable communities, including Syria’s Assyrian Christians, have been so traumatized that they may never recover, leaving permanent holes in Syria’s social fabric. Read more about this from The New York Times.

Hope for Syria’s antiquities museums 

After suffering damage and closing for five years, an antiquities museum in Idilb has now reopened. You can learn more on The Times of Israel website, and on Euronews.
Watch a video of the children’s first visit to the museum here, and photos here. The re-opening was also covered by Orient News, and EMC.

The Raqqa Civil Council’s Authority on Tourism and Protection of Antiquities (ATPA) has begun reconstruction efforts on the Raqqa museum. Read more of the interview with Olivier Nieuwenhuijse, a Humboldt researcher at the Institute for Asiatic Archaeology at Freie University on the Syria Direct website.

Palmyra to be ready for tourists

Syrian officials estimate that Palmyra will be ready for tourists by the summer of 2019. You can learn more on the RT website here or on The Art Newspaper here.

Aleppo reconstruction ongoing

TASS reports that the reconstruction of the Citadel in Aleppo’s should conclude by 2019. Contributors include the Syrian government and UNESCO, alongside other international organizations. Akram Karakela, director general of Antiquities in Aleppo, reported that the reconstruction would cost 100 million Syrian pounds (more than $194,000 USD). Read more on TASS or on the reconstruction at Prensa Latina here.

Salah Maraashi Photography shared a 60° panoramic image of the damage and Reconstruction at Othmaneyya Masjid.

On Saturday 18/8/2018 at the National Museum in Damascus, a workshop was organized by the DGAM in collaboration with the Aga Khan International Cultural Foundation to discuss documenting and preparing a study for the restoration and rehabilitation of the Scotia market in Aleppo. A full report of the event is available on the DGAMs website.

According to Euronews, “the Syrian city of Aleppo is still littered with debris from years of shelling and gunfire — but now tea shops, market stalls and pedestrians are also returning […] “Here in the streets, there wasn’t anyone at all during the war,” remembers resident Saleh Taftaneyzi. “There just wasn’t anyone. And now, you can see for yourself, how many people there are.”

The Times wrote here that Aleppo may soon be attracting more tourists.

Preparations begin to catalogue foreign mission warehouses

The Authority of Tourism and Protection Antiquities in Al-Jazia province transferred the remaining contents of excavation storehouses belonging to the missions who were working in the Al-Jazira area to safe warehouses belonging to the Authority. Over the last month, the warehouses were supplied with metal shelves and boxes replaced with plastic boxes to preparation for its cataloguing. The Authority has moved the contents following of Mission Houses: Hamoukar, Chuera, Tell Halaf, Arbied, Jager Bazar, Seaker Al Hemar, Tneaner, Leilan, Halula, and Khasham.

Training courses held for DGAM staff

DGAM staff participated in a training course on the reservation and restoration of wooden structures in Nara, Japan. Read more on SANA.

DGAM staff work to restore sculptures

A team of restoration experts at the DGAM is working on the restoration of the damaged stone sculptures that were transferred to Damascus. Visitors to the National Museum will soon be able to directly see the restoration work carried out by experts on these sculptures. See the DGAMs post here.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

  • None

International Activity

Puppets bring heritage to displaced Syrians

In Lebanon, an artist is using puppets to bring Syria’s heritage to life for young displaced Syrians. You can learn more on the UNHCR website.

4th Annual Lempkin Reunion brings together Syrian experts.

Hosted by the Shattuck center on Conflict Negotiation and Recovery as part of the CEU School of Public Policy, the Lempkin Reunion brought together over 25 Syrian and other experts, policymakers and academics. The topic was Syria’s displaced and the obstacles to full or partial return. You can view a video featuring interviews on the Aleppo Project website here, and read the published material here.

Syrian exhibits in Italy

The Italian Institute of Archaeology in Arona, Italy, the Institute for Digital Archaeology exhibited a digital Arch of Triumph and 19th century photos of Palmyra. You can learn more on Aletia.

An Exhibition titled: The Millennia for Today. Archaeology against War: Yesterday’s Urkesh in Today’s Syria was held in Rimini, Italy from 19-25 August.

Uffizi displays Syrian art and cultural artifacts

The Uffizi’s “Islamic Art and Florence from the Medici to the 20th Century” exhibit highlights the importance of Islamic scholarships by displaying objects from Syria and other countries. Learn more on The New York Times website.

Article published, “ISIS and heritage destruction: a sentiment analysis”

Article by Emma Cunliffe and Luig Curini

“While periods of war have always seen cultural heritage placed at risk, the recent rise of ISIS has involved the deliberate targeting of heritage sites as part of a broader strategy towards local communities in Syria and Iraq. Using data collated from social media (Twitter), the authors conducted sentiment analysis of reactions to instances of heritage destruction and repurposing in the Middle East between 2015 and 2016. It is hoped that the insights gained can help the international community better tackle terrorism, protecting heritage and supporting affected communities.”
The article is available via Antiquity Journal, or emailing the authors.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • Experts from AML Right Source and the Antiquities Coalition published a podcast here discussing the relationship between the illicit antiquities trade, money laundering, and terrorist financing.
  • The Zenobia cultural group Facebook page here posted a documentary about the city of Palmyra in 1999 from German archaeologists.
  • Al Monitor wrote here about the political tensions surrounding the question of who will help rebuilt Syria.
  • Ancient Origins wrote here about Khaled al-Asaad, past head of antiquities for the ancient city of Palmyra.
  • The Wire explore here how modern comics can help preserve ancient Mesopotamian myths, with characters such as Inanna, Nergal, Ereshkigal and Gilgamesh appearing in Marvel and DC comics.
  • Open Democracy published an account here of the tumultuous historic relations within the Shwam [Damascus citizens or Damascenes] community, and between them and their fellow Syrians.
  • Al-Khabar reported on the hunt for looted Syrian antiquities.

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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