Damage to Syria’s Heritage – 08 November 2015


Damage to Syria’s Heritage
08 November 2015

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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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

Heritage for Peace launches third international action report

Heritage for Peace is proud to launch its third volume of international actions, listing the important work of the Syrian people and the international community to help save Syria’s heritage. This volume and prior volumes covering the period from March 2014 to September 2015 can be found here.

Heritage for Peace talk, photo courtesy of Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa Project

Heritage for Peace talk at Oxford University

  • On 31 October, Dr Emma Cunliffe gave a talk about the NGO at the Conflict and Cultural Heritage conference held at Oxford University. Podcasts will be available soon on the conference webpage.

Updates on Damage
The late Ismail Mohammad Ali with children.                  (Photo source: DGAM)

DGAM member killed

The DGAM reports the death of one of its members, Ismail Mohammad Ali, on October 11 2015. The DGAM claims that Mr. Ali was killed by Daesh militants. See the DGAM announcement about Ismail here.

Heritage for Peace offer their sincere condolences to his family.

Airstrike in Syria.                   (Russian defence release: Reuters/The Guardian)

Damage around Palmyra

  • On November 2 2015 Palmyra News Updates reported airstrikes on the citadel at Palmyra. See also the report in the Guardian on November 2 2015 here.
  • The Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology provided a video of the destroyed arch at Palmyra on November 2 2015 here.
Graffiti inside a historic building in Bara.                   (Photo source: DGAM)

Damage to Bara in Northern Syria

The DGAM reported on November 3 2015 further vandalism and damage to the site of al-Bara, in the ‘Dead Cities’ region of northern Syria here.

Updates on Looting

  • None

Intangible Heritage

  • None

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Syrians go to great lengths to protect heritage

  • Franklin Lamb examines the work of Syria’s ‘Monuments Citizens’ to safeguard their heritage on October 29 2015 here, having met Syrians who pose as buyers for looted antiquities, and others working in teams with 3D cameras.
  • H4P has posted an article about Maaloula, by a group who have been documenting Syria’s heritage sites since 2008. See it here

DGAM Director to speak in UK

Hear Professor Mamoun Abdul Karim, Head of Syria’s Directorate-General of Antiquities & Museums, DGAM Syria , speak in his first visit to the UK: Thursday 12th November, 7pm

Heritage and Conflict: Syria’s Battle to Protect its Past
Royal Geographical Society, Kensington Gore, London
Tickets: WMFB Members £10/Non-members £15
Book online or call Tel: 020 7251 8142.

Khaled al-Assad Tribute

Khaled Assad, has been given a memorial, reports the  DGAM on October 28 2015. A digital booklet commemorating his life has been produced by the DGAM here.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria
  • None
International Activity

New 3D model of Palmyra launched

A Syrian activist, together with an international team, has launched a new project to 3D model Palmyra. #NEWPALMYRA. The first  models are already available on their website. They are looking for contributors of all sorts: 3D modelers, archaeologists, artists, curators, developers, educators, journalists, researchers, wikimedians.  Check out their website.

Bill in US Congress aims to reduce antiquities cash flow to Daesh

Huffington Post on November 4 2015 examines efforts by the US Congress to limit Daesh’s profits from antiquities trading here.

More details on the proposed laws can be found in the recently released Heritage for Peace International Actions Report (Vol 3).

British Museum grant for Iraq may extend to Syria in future

On October 29 2015, it was announced that the British Museum and the UK Government have established a $4.5m / £3m scheme for rebuilding and conservation of damaged monuments in Iraq, a scheme that they hope one day to extend to Syria. For details, see here.

World Monuments Fund leaves Syria (and the Middle East) off its 2016 Endangered Sites list. 

Given that there are so many sites in danger in the region, the World Monuments Fund has instead created the following entry on its endangered sites 2016 Watch List:

“The 2016 Watch includes the Unnamed Monument in recognition of the deliberate and calculated damage to thousands of cultural heritage sites in many areas of political and social instability. There are simply too many sites at risk to be included individually on the Watch, and no immediate hope for resolution. The Unnamed Monument seeks to shift the focus to local populations who are losing their cultural heritage and history, and away from our own outrage, which plays to the propaganda of those who are perpetrating this damage.”

Read more about the Watch List here.

ASOR publishes its weekly report

ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives weekly report 55/6 is now available, under the title “Planning for Safeguarding Heritage Sites in Syria and Iraq.” It can be found here.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

Looting and destruction of Syria’s heritage in the news

  • The Independent wonders if we should ‘preserve ruins’ on November 4 2015.
  • The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) looks at the work of heritage expert Tess Davis on October 28 2015 here.
  • DW.com looks at illegal looting on October 26 2015 here.

This mailing list was produced by Dr Emma Cunliffe, in association with Heritage for Peace
Copyright © 2015 Heritage for Peace, All rights reserved.

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