Damage to Syria’s heritage 03 August 2014


Damage to Syria’s Heritage

03 August 2014

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.

Main Contents

New from Heritage for Peace | Updates on Damage | Updates on Looting | Intangible Heritage | Reports and Updates from the Syrian DGAM |Policy Changes and Updates from Syria |International Activity | News Updates


New from Heritage for Peace
Heritage for Peace designs Task Force

After discussions with the Ministry of Culture and Family Affairs of the Syrian Interim Government in Gaziantep, Turkey Heritage for Peace was asked to design a Task Force on Antiquities and Museums with funding from The Dutch Government for the first phase of the project. The proposed structure for the Task Force by Heritage for Peace was sent to the Deputy Minister of Culture and Family Affairs on July 14, 2014, and is now under consideration.

Read the full press release here, and see the press release by the Syrian National Coalition here.

Heritage for Peace Site Director’s Survey

Have you filled out our Site Director’s Survey yet?

Heritage for Peace, within the framework of the international co-operation established under the auspices of UNESCO Observatory for the Safeguarding of Syria’s Cultural Heritage, invites archaeologists who prior to 2011 were directing archaeological research projects in Syria, to participate in a brief survey. The survey consists of 10 questions. The aim of the survey is to make a constructive contribution towards rehabilitating Syria’s cultural heritage sites by gathering information about the known status of archaeological sites.

More details, including how the information will be used, and how to access the survey, can be found here.

Updates on Damage
Tribute to Abdullah al Hmaid 

Heritage for Peace offer their condolences and pay tribute to the loss of a dedicated heritage professional in Syria.  Abdullah al Hamaid monitored several archaeological sites and tells in Deir ez-Zor. He was killed on 23 July 2014.

The report on the DGAM website is available here.

(Photo: Remains of the Grand Serail. Photo copyright: AMC / Aleppo Archaeology)

Destruction of the Grand Serail

The Grand Serail, the former seat of the Governor of Aleppo, was one of the most important government buildings in Aleppo in the 1930s.  It sat on the citadel square, and served in its official capacity until 2008, when the new government building was opening.  The building was blown up at the end of July.

This video claims to show the destruction of the building as it occurs.

Aleppo Archaeology shared a photograph of the remains, taken by A.M.C., here.

(Photo: Fire truck at the site of Ugarit. Photo copyright: DGAM)

Fire at the site of Ugarit

A fire swept through the archaeological site of Ugarit, burning the vegetation in the the unexcavated areas and a few of the excavated areas.  The fire caused no damage to the archaeological structures, an no-one was harmed.  The report and photos are available on the DGAM website in English here, and in Arabic here.

(Photo: Damage to Bab al-Nasr, Old Aleppo. Photo copyright: DGAM)

Fire in Bab al-Nasr in Old Aleppo

Fighting in Old Aleppo led to a fire which swept through Bab al-Nasr, causing heavy damage.  The report and photos are available on the DGAM website in English here, and in Arabic here.

Before and after photos were shared by Aleppo Archaeology here.

The Association to Protect Syrian Archaeology also shared photos of the damage on their Facebook page, and a video of the damage.

Additional historic buildings damaged

  • The Sahabia Mosque in Old Aleppo has sustained severe damage.  ‘Before and after’ photos were shared by the Facebook group Eyes on Heritage here and here.
  • According to a verbal report shared with Heritage for Peace, when the serail in Aleppo was destroyed, Hammam Yalbogha, which was near it, also sustained heavy damage.
  • The Association to Protect Syrian Archaeology have shared photos of damage to the Sufi Meqam, al-Salahin Mosquet, in Aleppo, on their website, available here.
  • Also in Aleppo, they have shared photographs of the damage to al-Mydani  /al-Midani Mosque on their Facebook page here.
  • They have also reported on the destruction of the sepulchre of the Umayyad caliph Sulaymān ibn ʿAbd Al-Malik (an Umayyad caliph who ruled from 715 until 717 AD) and the Sufi Meqam (mausoleum) Abd Allah ibn Mesaf’ al-Qouresh in Dabiq, Aleppo. Before and after photos are available on their website here, and a video is available here.
  • In addition, they have also shared photos and a video of damage to Hammam al-Souk, in Kafr Takharim, in Idllib.  There has been extensive damage to the roof and domes.  The video can be seen here, and photos can be seen on their webpage here.
  • The Association to Protect Syrian Archaeology also released a video of armaments and earthworks installed at Palmyra, available here.

Updates on Looting
  • None
Intangible Heritage
  • None
Reports and Updates from the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums
Syrian Cultural Heritage – Three and a Half Years of Suffering: Statement by the DGAM

“A year has passed since we last sent an international call out to all those concerned with defending Syria’s heritage. At the time, we warned against a possible cultural disaster that might be inflicted on an invaluable part of the human heritage existing in Syria. We also added that the latest development of the painful events in Syria as well as the absence of the specialized government institutions and the archaeological authorities in some regions contributed greatly to the aggravation of the risk befalling the Syrian cultural heritage. Consequently, systematic clandestine excavations, carried out by professional armed gangs, doubled. In addition, smuggling cultural objects grew remarkably across borders seeing that the neighboring countries were not making enough efforts to put an end to smuggling taking place across their borders and within their territories…”

Read the full statement here.

DGAM update of damage occurring between March to June 2014

The DGAM have collated the damage that has occurred to Syrian cultural heritage sites between March 2014 and June 2014 and updated the tables of damage.  Those tables are available here as pdfs.

DGAM visits Shahba, Suweyda 

  • The DGAM visited the inhabitants of Shahba to discuss how the archaeological inscription of the site would affect them.  Details of the visit are available here.
DGAM commended by the World Heritage Committee 

  • The World Heritage Committee in UNESCO commended the DGAM for their sustained efforts in protecting the Syrian cultural heritage.  See details here.
Policy Changes and Updates from Syria
Syrian National Coalition begin work on Task Force

Read the press release by the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces on the work of their new heritage Task Force here.

International Activity
  • None
News Updates

(Not covered in other sections)

Reports and more information on the damage to Syria’s heritage

This mailing list was produced by Dr Emma Cunliffe, in association with Heritage for Peace

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