Damage to Syria’s heritage – 14 August 2018



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

14 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

Photo of damage near the citadel of Aleppo. Photo Copyright: DGAM

ASOR publishes May 2018 Monthly Report

The ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives May 2018 Monthly Report is now available here:

  • Alleged Turkish army or Turkish-backed FSA fighters destroyed the grave of the Kurdish writer Nuri Dersimi and damaged Henan Mosque in Mesh’ale, Aleppo Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 18-0116.
  • Reported SARG forces recaptured the Jerusalem Mosque from opposition forces in Yarmouk neighborhood, Damascus, Damascus Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 18-0104.
  • Satellite imagery revealed ongoing illegal excavations at Apamea, in Qalaat al-Mudiq, Hama Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 18-0100.
  • Video footage shows graffiti at the Roman Theater in Palmyra, Homs Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 18-0117.
  • Satellite imagery and photographs show new damage to Tell Danit in Idlib Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 18-0102.
  • Satellite imagery revealed damage to Ibrahim Khalil Mosque in Hajar al-Aswad, Rif Dimashq Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 18-0112.

Updates on Looting

Looting and destruction at Afrin 

According to the reports received by the DGAM, archaeological sites in the area of ​​Afrin have been subjected to illegal excavations and systematic destruction that have caused great damage to these sites. Pictures received show large-scale bulldozing of the fence and various parts of the city. Heavy machinery was used to build military fortifications on the site and excavations have also been carried out. Read more on the DGAMs website.

Looting in several areas of Idleb 

New details of excavation and looting are reported from parts of Idleb, including the area of Al Sheik Mansour and village of Qunya.
More information on Presna Latina here and Muraselon here.

Damage to sites in Tal al-Ashari

SANA cited the Head of Antiquities Directorate in Daraa Mohamed al-Nasrallah when reporting on damage in the Tal al-Ashari in Houran, where excavation and looting has apparently been conducted for the past seven years.
Read more on Muraselon here.

Confiscated pieces by ATPA 

The Authority of Tourism and Protection Antiquities in Al-Jazira territory received a set of pieces from the Syrian Democratic Forces, seized during the fight against the ISIS there. Many of the pieces were forged except the coins. See more here.

Intangible Heritage

Tourism festival celebrates Syrian culture      

The recent 4-day Bloudan Tourism Festival 2018 near Damascus includes cultural sports, films, and music performed by Syrian singers.
Read more on SANA here.

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Reconstruction in Raqqa 

Several grassroots organizations in Raqqa have begun reconstruction efforts of the Raqqa Museum, Old City, and the Rafiqah Wall. Read more and see before-and-after photographs on Syria Direct here.

New discoveries of tombs and caves    


  • The Authority of Tourism and Protection of Antiquities in Al-Jazira Province was informed by the ISF in the city of Raqqa about three tombs In the Middle  Euphrates Valley. Dating back to the period between the first millennium BC and the Byzantine periods, one of these tombs bears Aramaic writing. However, all three tombs had been looted. See here.
  • During the digging of a new building near the town of Marmarita in Wadi al-Nadhara, a natural cave, 10 to 14 meters high, was discovered in the calcareous rocks with geological formations consisting of various colored beautiful façades and stalagmites. Directorate of Antiquities in Homs and the Directorate of Tourism and the General Organization of Geology visited the site and it was agreed on the need to preserve and protect the cave in preparation for the DGAM to list it among the sites of the Syrian natural heritage, and to be included by Directorate of Tourism among tourist sites. See the DGAM website here.

Team of the Idleb Center of Antiquities in Dier Subat     

A video posted to Facebook summarizes the work of the team of Idleb Antiquities  Center in Deir Subat in Al-Bara here.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

  • None

International Activity

Bishops call attention to plight of displaced Syriac Catholics  

At their annual meeting, Syriac Catholic bishops highlighted the need for displaced Syriac Catholic families from Syria and Iraq to maintain connections with their traditions and heritage. Read more on the Catholic Spirit website here.

Syrian artists abroad explore cultural landscape of homeland  

The Beirut-based association Ettijahat supports young Syrian artists and community projects focusing on the Syrian cultural landscape.
Read more on Al-Fanar Media here.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • Brooks in Beta here reported on how 3D scanning can be used to preserve historical monuments, using examples from Syria. See here.
  • The Middle East Institute here published a podcast about combating the illicit trade of ancient art and antiquities featuring Deborah Lehr, founder of The Antiquities Coalition, with the head of the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage and the acting head of the Middle East Institute.
  • UNESCO shared a video of young Syrian refugees keeping their intangible cultural heritage alive with music, here.

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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