Damage to Syria’s heritage – 08 March 2019



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

08 March 2019

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

Photo of the minaret of Adiliyya Mosque
Source: Syrian Heritage Archive.

Urgent call for relief of Adiliyya Mosque minaret

The Syrian Heritage Archive reports that the minaret of the famous Adiliyya Mosque is in danger and calls for urgent relief measures. See photos of the damage on the Syrian Heritage Archive Project Facebook.

Further images have been shared by Aleppo Archaeology.

Views of damage in Aleppo

Aleppo Archaeology shared two Facebook posts by Mohamad Ahmad showing a tour of old Aleppo, and another showing photos of the damage to the city.

Panorama of Dead City damage

Ayman Nabo posted a beautiful 360 degree panorama of one of the Dead Cities, but looting holes and damage to the site are also clearly visible.

Updates on Looting

DGAM seize hundreds of artifacts

The DGAM reported on the confiscation of hundreds of artifacts in the province of Daraa. The Criminal Security Branch in Daraa governorate, in cooperation with Daraa Governorate and the Antiquities Department, managed to seize and confiscate hundreds of important looted artifacts from archaeological sites in Daraa governorate and its suburbs which were hidden and smuggled near the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Ancient books from Syria seized in Turkey

Turkish police have seized four invaluable ancient books written in Syriac and Aramaic, which some suggest were looted from museums in Syria. Read more about this on the Daily Sabah.

Turkish police have seized an ancient 1,200 year old bible thought to have been smuggled from Syria. Learn more about this from the Independent.
(NB: these may the same seizures)

Intangible Heritage

Revival of traditional Syrian handicrafts

A Syrian company has opened a new Ubbaha” (luxurious) center in Latakia to revive traditional Syrian handicraft industries. You can read more on this at the Syrian Times.

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Restoration plans proposed by Syrian students

Masters students of historical building restoration and site rehabilitation at Damascus University proposed projects for the rehabilitation of 22 Syrian archaeological buildings and sites. To learn more on this go to SANA.

Syrian antique collector preserves heritage and tradition

65-year old Haitham Tabbakha has turned his home in Damascus into a museum, displaying over 2,500 antiques he has collected over 50 years. You can view the collection on the Deccan Chronicle.

Site protection event in Idlib

Idlib Antiquities Centre have shared Facebook photos of a networking event held with local councils to encourage collaboration with to find solutions to protect Syria’s heritage.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

  • None

International Activity

Training course on disaster risk management of cultural heritage

ICCROM is offering the “Fourteenth International Training Course (ITC) on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage.” September 9-30, 2019. To learn more or apply for this go to ICCROM.

ICOMOS Project Anqa website launch

The ICOMOS Project Anqa has launched their website.

The project aims to create accurate 3D recordings of heritage sites at risk using new technology and to contribute to capacity building in the region, the transfer of knowledge and the creation of permanent architectural inventory units. The project began in Syria, in partnership with the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM), and has documented six sites located in Damascus that illustrate the architectural variety of historic buildings in the ancient city.

New reports and publications

Action on Armed Violence published a new report, “The reverberating effects of explosive weapons in Syria.” which includes information on damage to Syria’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and other historic areas, including 14,400 mosques. You can learn more on Relief Web.

Heritage in War published two blog posts about heritage protection during conflict and utilizing Syria as a key example. The first is about ethical arguments for protecting heritage in conflict, and the second is about the challenges of doing so. Read them here and here.

Syrbanism has published the results of their recent survey on property and documentation types in Syria. See the results on the Syrbanism website.

Cultural Property Conferences – registration open

  • Registration is now open for the ICOMOS annual conference. 
    This year, the ICOMOS Advisory Committee, Annual General Assembly and Scientifc Symposium  will take place in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 14 to 18 October 2019, on the generous invitation of ICOMOS Morroco.
    Deadline for submissions is 1 April 2019.On the occasion of the meetings, a one-day Scientific Symposium organised by the Advisory Committee on the theme of “Rural Heritage – Landscapes and beyond” will take place on 17 October in Marrakesh, Morocco.
    Learn more on the ICOMOS website
  • Registration is now open for the “National Conference on Cultural Property Protection.” June 19-21. To learn more and to register go to the Smithsonian.

Syrian refugees represented at heritage protection conference

The conference “Cultural Heritage Protection in Armed Conflict:Protecting Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict and Situations of Forcible Displacement: An (Emerging) Human Right?’ explored the concept of cultural heritage and how this is protected in situations of armed conflict and forcible displacement from a socio-legal perspective. The event took place at Newcastle University, United Kingdom, on March 1-2, 2019. Details of the event and links to resources are available on the conference website

The conference began with presentations from a Syrian support group for refugees from Syria and local refugees from Iraqi Kurdistan, highlighting how the loss of their heritage has affected them.

Museum exhibitions feature Syrian heritage and historic sites

The special exhibition “The Cultural Landscape of Syria Preservation and Archiving in Times of War” in the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon museum invites visitors, using objects, films, photos and interactive screens, on a virtual journey of discovery through the cultural landscape of Syria. This goes on from February 28 to June 26, 2019 at the Pergamon Museum. You can learn more about the event at the Facebook event page.

The Pergamon museum also unveiled a new exhibition documenting Syrian heritage sites with more than 200,000 photographs, as well as archaeological reports, maps, plans, drawings and oral testimonies. You can read more on the Art Newspaper website or in DW.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • The Mirror reported on the ongoing recovery of historic Syrian sites, including creation of 3D models in Palmyra and reopening of the Homs market scheduled for next month.
  • The South China Morning Post wrote about how the dark web facilitates illegal sales of Syrian antiquities.
  • The Roads and Kingdoms website published photographs and a interview with Kevin Bubriski, who’s latest book “Legacy in Stone: Syria Before War” documents Syria’s heritage sites. See the photos from the Roads and Kingdoms website here and at the New York Review of Books website here.
  • SANA published accounts of several historic sites in Syria, including the Al-Nuri Bimaristan Medicine and Sciences Museum here, Az-Zahiriyah Library here, and the archaeological site of al-Noufara here.
  • ArchHerNet posted Connecting Syrian Children With Their Heritage – Interview With Lamis Kadah.

This mailing list was produced by Dr Emma Cunliffe, in association with Heritage for Peace
Copyright © 2019 Heritage for Peace, All rights reserved.

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