Damage to Syria’s heritage – 15 July 2018



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

15 July 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

Stabilisation work carried out by Idlib Antqiquities Centre at Monastery of Saybat in the World Heritage site of Bara. Photo copyright: Idleb Antiquities Centre.

Updates on Damage

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Updates on Looting

Multiple seizures of stolen objects across Europe  

The Illicit Trade website reported here that tens of thousands of stolen cultural artefacts have been recovered in raids across Europe.

“Speaking at a 2014 ARCA conference, Paolo Giorgio Ferri, a former Italian state prosecutor who led the case against the infamous antiquities smuggler Giacomo Medici, estimated that 90% of all antiquities looting is undertaken by groups involved in organized crime as opposed to individuals or smaller groups interested in short-term profit only. The loss of archaeological context then becomes one among many problems, since the profits from these illicit sales go on to fund all manner of other activities in which these syndicates are involved.”
Read more by CNN.

Intangible Heritage

  • None

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Mission to assess archaeological damage at Busra al-Sham  

SANA reported that the DGAM is sending a national mission to conduct an archaeological survey assessing the damage at Busra al-Sham.
Read more on SANA here. More information is also available by Enab Baladi here.

Syrian archaeologists conduct restoration and stabilisation work

With the help of specialists from the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Syrian archaeologists have begun work restoring Palmyra’s damaged artefacts.
Read more on the Telegraph website here.

Idlib Antiquities Centre are conducting stabilisation work on the Dead Cities to save the Monastery of Saybat in Bara. Photos are available via their Facebook page (also here).

Syrian DGAM staff attend damage documentation training course 

DGAM staff worked with UNESCO – Beirut Office, in cooperation with the German Archaeology Institute, to complete a training course on Architectural Documentation and Damage Assessment. The course was held in the Lebanese capital Beirut between June 25 and July 15. It included theoretical and practical training, visits to heritage sites in Lebanon, field applications on the ground, engineering rigs, lectures and working sessions on methods of documenting sites and estimating injuries by means of protection and insurance for archaeological sites. Read more on the DGAM website.

Site protection work in Al-Jazira

The Authority for Tourism and the Protection of Antiquities (ATPA) have completed their fifth day of painting signage to aid in site protection. Painting was completed in the following cities (Qamishli, Sari Kaniyah, Amuda, Drbasyia, Tell Tamer). The original article about the work is available on their website, and new photos of the work are available via Facebook.

Syrian awarded three honorable mentions in Paris Photography Prize 

The PX3 Paris Photography Prize awarded honourable mentions to Syrian photographer Hagop Vanesian, whose last exhibition in Syria was titled “Aleppo…A Civilization and Ashes” at Dar Al-Assad for Culture and Arts.
Read more on SANA here.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

  • None

International Activity

Project at the Museum of Islamic Art assesses damage to monuments in Aleppo

The Aleppo “Damage Assessment” project processes detailed documentation files on monuments from Aleppo, mainly based on their state of threat. Additional historical research and architectural/art-historical evaluation of importance are subject to Catalogue Project (CAT).
Read more on the Syrian Heritage Archive Facebook page here.

New Masters course on Cultural Property Protection

New course – Post-Graduate Master Course Interdepartmental University School for Strategic Sciences, Italy
Keep an eye on it – they are looking for money for scholarships for those from the most affected areas.

Two new academic articles available open access

JSTOR made available a free journal article, here, entitled “Understanding ISIS’s Destruction of Antiquities as a Rejection of Nationalism” by Christopher W. Jones, Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology & Heritage Studies Vol. 6, No. 1-2 (2018), pp. 31-58

NATO Open Publications here released a new open access paper, “The Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict: Unnecessary Distraction or Mission-Relevant Priority?” by Dr. Emma Cunliffe, Dr. Paul Fox, Prof Peter Stone.

New regulations for antiquities imported into US 

The U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield has successfully argued for changes to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States. The changes will require importers to separate archaeological and ethnographic items from historic pieces in their declarations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
More information is available on the USCBS website here.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • The Aga Khan Trust for Culture called for the international heritage community to support the reconstruction of the Old City of Aleppo as an “urgent humanitarian need”. Learn more on the Art Newspaper website here.
  • The Media Line reported here on international trafficking of cultural antiquities.
  • The Turkey Telegraph also wrote here about the illegal global trafficking of art, citing Iraq and Syria as areas in urgent need of attention.
  • The Centre for Religious Pluralism in the Middle East notes that the “Hudson Institute hosted a discussion with Archimandrite Dr. Alexi Chehadeh on the displacement of the Syrian people. From his unique vantage point as head of a local aid organization with access to all parts of Syria, Fr. Alexi discussed the humanitarian and reconstruction situation in the region, including the rebuilding of historical cultural sites of the Christian community. ” Read more here.
  • Media Line covered the new British Museum exhibition of Assyrian artifacts and repeated statistics on the trafficking of cultural antiquities. See it here.
  • Meet the Aleppo Archive Project in this interview, and see their work to protect Aleppo.

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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