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.
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Heritage for Peace has published the second installment cataloging world-wide preservation efforts, entitled ‘Towards a protection of the Syrian cultural heritage: A summary of the international responses Volume II (March 2014 – September 2014)’. The full report can be found here.
Updates on Damage
(Photo: Meqam Shiekh Aqil al Manbaji. Photo copyright: DGAM)
Sufi shrines have been destroyed
In a shocking report, the DGAM states that extremists have destroyed Sufi shrines in the countryside around Aleppo. The damage is widespread. All of the shrines in Menbij, including the Meqam Shiekh Aqil al Manbaji, and all of the shrines in Ezaz have been completely destroyed. See the report and photos here.
(Photo copyright: DGAM)
Damage to sites in Northern Syria
The Seleucid-era Tell Jabal Khalid in Northern Syria has been damaged by illegal digging, reports the DGAM (25 October 2014). See the brief and aerial photo here.
Protect Syrian Archaeology posted a page cataloging photos of US airstrikes against ISIS militants on the hill of Tell Shair Ain Al-Arab/ Ayn Al-Arab- Kobani, on 24 October,2014. See them here
Rising costs for cement and other construction materials are driving pillaging of stone in the ancient villages of Idlib, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reports the DGAM on 23 October 2014. See the brief and a few photos here.
The Limestone Massif, Kafr Lusein/Kafr Luseen, Idlib had considerable damage, documented in a short video by Abu Almutanabi Alatarbi, 19 October, 2014, posted by Protect Syrian Archaeology here.
More damage around Aleppo
The DGAM (October 27 2014) reports significant damage to the Ayn al-Arab district in the vicinity of Aleppo. Sites damaged by defensive earthworks and minelaying include Tell Shuyukh Tahtani, Tell Shuyukh Fouqani and Tell al Bidaya. See the report here.
New photos show damage to the Citadel of Aleppo, shared by Aleppo Archaeology (21 October, 2014) here. The museum in the citadel also is missing wall panels and pillars, contained in a video here, which has views of other damage as well.
The DGAM (21 October 2104) reports damage to various sites such as the church at Brad and the Al-Didria Cave near Aleppo, in the Darat Ezza region. However, it also notes that the monuments and sites in and around Darat Ezza remain in relatively good condition. See the full report here.
A new video taken by Ismael Abed Alrahman shows the damage to the sites of Khan Al-Shouneh and Al-Khosrowiyya/Al- Khosrofia Mosque, Aleppo. Protect Syrian Archaeology (17 October, 2014) posted it here.
Updates on Looting
Looting persists in Syria
Looting of artefacts continues in various sites around Syria. The DGAM has documented illegal looting near Najem Castle (Qal’at Najm) near Manbij in Northern Syria here. Protect Syrian Archaeology has also posted a photo and video here and here of digging in Tell Hizareen. See the ‘News’ section below for articles discussing the issue.
Reports and Updates from the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums
DGAM Director General wins Cultural Heritage Rescue Prize
The Director General of the DGAM, Prof. Maamoun Abdulkarim, has won the Cultural Heritage Rescue Prize. This is a new award established by Italy’s Associazione Priorità Cultura and the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, and was made necessary, in the words of Francesco Rutelli, in light of a “resurgent barbarian attitude” taking root in Syria and Iraq, as well as elsewhere, with reference to archaeological sites. The DGAM and the New York Times have reported this story here and here respectively.
DGAM and German-Arab Friendship Association collaborate on exhibition in Berlin
A new exhibition in Berlin, “Cultural Battlefield”, held at the German-Arab Friendship Association (DAFG) in collaboration with the DGAM, showcases photographs by Kathleen Göbel of damage in Aleppo and Homs. It will run until December 10, and will include lectures by the Director General of the DGAM, Prof. Maamoun Abdulkarim. Further information can be found at the DAFG site here and via the DGAM here.
The National excavation mission in Amrit wraps up 2014 season
Archaeologists have completed a successful mission of digging in Amrit, hoping to return again soon. They unearthed a cemetery and another building in Amrit uncovering Byzantine coins, skeletons, and other artefacts. Photographs of the dig can be found DGAM’s website here.
Policy Changes and Updates from Syria
ASOR and other international efforts continue
ASOR’s Syrian Heritage Initiative is providing weekly updates on its activity. These can be found here.
Patrimoine sans frontières (Heritage Without Borders) with Heritage for Peace has an interview with Cristina Menegazzi, head of the “emergency safeguarding of the Syrian heritage project”, under the title ‘UNESCO and the protection of Syrian cultural heritage’ The article offers a detailed view of international efforts with regard to Syrian heritage . A PDF of the interview is also available.
(Not covered in other sections)
News on looting antiquities and ISIS
Sam Hardy offers a piece on ‘How the west buys ‘conflict antiquities’ from Iraq and Syria (and funds terror)’ for Reuters (October 27 2014). Hardy quotes Michel van Rijn, described as ‘one of the most successful smugglers of antique artifacts in the past century’, who was recently interviewed by Das Erste. Hardy builds on the other reports currently circulating which show the shocking extent of ancient artefacts looting for sale on international markets.
Deutsche Welle reports (20 October 2014) on how art dealers are reaping the benefits of looting in a two minute video here.
Das Erste provides a 43 minute reportage here from 14 October (in German) here.
The New Yorker runs a story called ‘ISIS’s Looting Campaign‘ (14 October 2014). The article address the situation in both Syria and Iraq, and the ‘thousands of vital archaeological sites—remains from Bronze and Iron Age settlements as well as from Islamic, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine civilizations—…now at risk.’
This mailing list was produced by Dr Emma Cunliffe, in association with Heritage for Peace