Damage to Syria’s heritage – 15 November 2017



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

15 November 2017

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.

If the newsletter is not displaying properly, click here to view it online in a browser.

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

Damage to al-Sa’a Church.    Copyright: Stars and Stripes

ASOR publishes new incident report on damage to al-Sa’a “Clock” Church

New video footage shows damage to the al-Sa’a “Clock” Church, a mid-19th century Roman Catholic church in the Old City of Mosul.

ASOR publishes August 2017 monthly report

The  ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives August 2017 Monthly Report is now available here.

  • A local council is conducting conservation projects on al-Shughour Castle in Shughour Qadeem, Idlib Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 17-0147
  • A US-led Coalition airstrike destroyed al-Nour Mosque in Raqqa, Raqqa Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 17-0145
  • The Day After Heritage Protection Initiative released a new report on damage to al-Daraj Historic Bath
  • Yazidi inhabitants of Bashiqa rebuild 17 destroyed shrines in Ninawa Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 17-0069
  • DigitalGlobe imagery shows damage to al-Kabir Mosque in al-’Ayadiya, Ninawa Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 17-0072
  • A survey of archaeological elements in the Old City of al-Marj, Cyrenaica occurred. ASOR CHI Incident Report LHI 17-0021
  • Security forces prevented a large hoard of coins from Tripoli, Tripolitania from being smuggled out of Libya through Mitiga Airport. ASOR CHI Incident Report LHI 17-0015

Mortar shelling reported again in the Old City of Damascus

Areas in the center of Damascus and its districts were shelled. The shells targeted areas of Al-Kesa, Old Damascus, and Bab Sharqi and the neighborhoods of Al-Amin and Al-Abasyeen, causing material damage, and left 7 people injured, while several shells fell on places in Jermana area in the outskirts of the capital, leaving at least 6 people injured. Learn more on the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights website and Sputnik News.

Updates on Looting

Looted mosaic

The Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology have released a photo and some information regarding a looted mosaic in Idlib. See the photos and the details here.

Intangible Heritage

Syrian culinary heritage continues to earn international attention

The Financial Times reports on the growing movement throughout the world, transforming Syrian refugees into chefs. As one refugee says, “I want to go home and rebuild Syria. But while I’m here, food is one of the best ways I can help my country, to remind people of Syria’s great culture.”

Unique show centred around a Syrian kitchen

A play designed around the kitchen tells the story of a Syrian woman searching for the man she loves through war-torn Syria and performed by Nora el Samahy. Learn more about it from The San Francisco Chronicle.

Traditional Syrian crafts damaged

The Syria Times examines traditional Syrian crafts and the threats those crafts face today.

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Syrian archaeologist passes away

Syrian archaeologist and art historian Dr. Afif Bahnassi died on November 2, 2017. Read more on the SANA website here.

Centre set up in Idlib to protect Syrian heritage sites.

The Syrian Cultural Heritage Protection Centre has been set up in Idlib to document damage to heritage sites and try to better protect these locations. Read more on the TRT World website here.

Syrian heritage village

“Mr. Arbash promised that a heritage village is will be built in Damascus Countryside to include 33 old traditional handicrafts” according to The Syria TimesMr. Arbash is the chairman of the“Vocational Society for Oriental Products”.

ATPA document sites in Al Jazira Canton

The Authority of Tourism and Protection of Antiquities has documented archaeological sites  in the south countryside of Hasaka city. To learn more see here.

Bookstore is saving built heritage in Homs

A new English-language bookstore in Homs is part of local efforts to preserve Syria’s built heritage. Read more on the Irish Times here.

Exhibitions held in Syria

Hykait Bald is the the title of the first heritage exhibition established by Idlib Antiquities Centre. The exhibition shows mosaics and paintings inspired by the country’s heritage.

The Authority of Tourism and Protection Antiquities in Al Jazira Canton are publicising the opening of a photo gallery ‘Woman and History‘ as part of the International Day of Violence Against Women. It will run in the Centre of Culture and Art in Amuda city for two days – on Monday November 20 and Tuesday November 21st.

Shunwar archaeological program on Rouge-Ava channel

A television program called the Shunwar Program aimed to introduce and explain the importance the archaeological sites in Aljazira Canton to the locals people. The program was shown on Rogue –Ava channel and is supported by it.

Traditional paving rebuilt in Aleppo

This Facebook video shows the creation of new paving of white limestone stones in Aleppo, using a method which is more than a thousand years old and is inherited through generations.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

  • None

International Activity

ASOR undertakes humanitarian heritage work in Idlib Governate.

Working with local Syrians, The Day After Heritage Initiative Project (TDA-HPI) and ASOR have completed repairs on a deviated wall at Al Ma’ara Museum (aka Murad Pasha Caravansary) following 2015 and 2016 aerial bombardment. ASOR CHI has undertaken humanitarian heritage work in Idlib Governorate and looks to raise $5,000 for emergency mitigation work. More details on the ASOR website here.

New publications to help preserve heritage

ICCROM have released a new publication to help preserve documentary heritage. SOIMA: Unlocking Sound and Image Heritage is a web-based and freely downloadable book that offers tips and advice from dedicated professionals from all corners of the world, for the preservation and creative use of sound and image heritage. Download SOIMA here.

FEMA has published Heritage Emergency National Task Force reference sheets for salvaging water-damaged collections in several different languages.

UNESCO update strategy for protecting culture and launch appeal

“UNESCO’s Member States on Tuesday closed the 39th session of the Organization’s General Conference with the adoption of a series of programme decisions. […] With regard to the Culture Sector, the General Conference revised the strategy it adopted two years ago for UNESCO’s work in protecting culture and cultural pluralism in the event of armed conflict. The revised strategy now covers natural disasters alongside armed conflicts.
Member States also launched an Appeal on Protecting Culture and Promoting Cultural Pluralism as a key to lasting peace. The appeal calls for culture, cultural heritage and diversity to be factored into international humanitarian, security and peacebuilding policies and operation”
Read more here.

As part of the General Conference, UNESCO hosted an international high-level panel on 6 November 2017, which brought together Ministers from Iraq and Mali, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and international experts to strengthen cooperation in response to cultural cleansing and violent extremism. Read more here.

Interpol calls for the creation of national cultural heritage units

Interpol has released a brochure outlining the need for a specialised unit dedicated to cultural property crimes.
Download the brochure in English or Arabic.

Saudi works to prevent abuse of Prophet Mohammed’s (pbuh) teaching in violent extremism

According to The NationalIslamic scholars have welcomed a Saudi royal decree to establish a religious centre that will monitor interpretations of Prophet Mohammed’s Hadiths to prevent extremists from using them to justify acts of terror and violence.”

Iran, Russia and Turkey meet for Astana conference

Iran, Russia, and Turkey met for the International Syria Conference in Astana, discussing a range of topics including preservation of Syria’s cultural heritage sites. Read more on the Iran Front Page website here.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

    • Al Masdar News reports on the extensive thefts of antiquities and monuments from Palmyra by IS, quoting Mohammed Al-Asaad, director of the Palmyra Museum: IS “committed terrorist acts and stole everything they could lay hands on in Palmyra and the surrounding ancient areas.
    • Tourists visit Syria – Colin Thubron wrote of Damascus for the BBC here, and Roger White saw much of the country here.


  • Colgate University’s conference on cultural heritage and conflict examined how large scale cultural property theft and destruction occur during times of instability. Read more on the Cultural Heritage Lawyer Blogspot here.
  • The Waltham Forest Echo website discusses the London Syrian Ensemble, comprised of Syrian musicians, which will preform on Thursday November 2nd.
  • ASOR is pleased to announce a photography contest for images depicting cultural heritage in the Near East and Mediterranean World.These photographs may illustrate any aspect of tangible or intangible cultural heritage. Any student-member of ASOR (undergraduate or graduate) may submit their own original images.
  • The Australian writes about the online sale of Syrian antiquities.
  • The Washington Diplomat reports on war economies in Libya, Syria and Iraq, including discussion of antiquities looting.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports on the sale of antiquities through platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Facebook and WhatsApp.
  • An opinion piece in The Globalist examines why cultural heritage matters.
  • Business Insider discusses how online platforms such as Amazon and eBay could be more proactive in addressing the online trafficking of looted antiquities.
  • CBC News reports on a small school in Halifax, Canada, where Syrian students study Arabic and learn about their cultural heritage.
  • Vice News Canada showcases photos of Aleppo from August and September of this year, showing areas that will eventually undergo reconstruction.
  • The UNESCO Courier discusses Resolution 2347, “a historic resolution to protect cultural heritage.”
  • The Art Newspaper examines how art collectors are addressing the rise of fake Modern Middle Eastern art, including the work of Syrian Modernist Louay Kayyali.
  • The Jordan Times reports on Zikra, a social enterprise with locations in Syria and other MENA regions that connects urban and rural communities through cultural exchange.
  • Open Democracy discusses how Syrians in Turkey continue to connect culture, heritage and politics.

This mailing list was produced by Dr Emma Cunliffe, in association with Heritage for Peace
Copyright © 2017 Heritage for Peace, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp


Search on the website


Make everyone around you aware of these issues