Damage to Syria’s heritage – 18 September 2017



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

18 September 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, 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

Damage in Daraa.    Copyright The Syria Times.

Statement on archaeological damage in Daraa

The head of the Antiquities Directorate in the southern Daraa province says that “80% of archaeological sites in the province has [sic] been systematically damaged and looted during the years of war on Syria.” Read more on the Syria Times website here.

Photos of the Museum of Raqqa after the expulsion of ISIS

The Syrian Democratic Forces recently liberated the Raqqa Museum from ISIS, according to the RMC Media Center. Their source pointed out that the organisation used the museum as a military base after they looted and destroyed most of the archaeological finds in it. To see the photos on the DGAM website click here; for more of the museum see here on the ATPA website. Photos on social media shared by Leen Yasmin Rashied show Al-Raqqa Museum after the expulsion of ISIS. The photos show damage to its structure, in addition to the loss of everything inside the museum.

New report about the damages and the looting  in Tell Diniet in Idleb

The Association for the Rescue of Archaeological Sites in Northern Syria reports on damages and looting at the site of Tell Diniet. To read the report click here.  

ASOR publishes July 2017 monthly report 

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

  • US-led Coalition airstrikes damaged the city wall of Raqqa, Raqqa Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 17-0122)
  • Hayat Tahrir al-Sham reportedly fired heavy weapons at Qal’at Harim, Idlib Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 17-0132)
  • The battle for Mosul damages the Old City of Mosul, Ninawa Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 17-0065)
  • New photos show graffiti on the al-Hadba Minaret and al-Nouri Mosque in Mosul, Ninawa Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 17-0062)
  • The aftermath of the Battle of Benghazi reveals severe damage to the Old City of Benghazi, including the Ottoman Municipal Building (ASOR CHI Incident Report LHI 17-0013)
  • A Torah scroll, purchased in Zintan, Tripolitania, was recovered from two smugglers in Tunisia (ASOR CHI Incident Report LHI 17-0010)

Updates on Looting

Campaign to return cultural objects to Idilb Museum

The Idlib Museum have started a campaign to return antiquities illicitly trafficked during the past six years. Read the full article on the Anadolu Agency website here.

Intangible Heritage

Performance explores the connections between Aleppo and inhabitants

“Aleppo. A Portrait of Absence” features performances based on interviews with inhabitants of Aleppo talking about places of importance to them. Haus der Kulteren der Welt, Berlin. 21 – 23 September 2017. More information and tickets available on the HKW website here.

Assyrian refugee children explore heritage

At Australia’s only Assyrian school, refugee children learn about both their Syrian heritage and Australian culture. Read the ABC article online here.

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

DGAM workshop on “Post-crisis reconstruction and revitalization of historic cities”

The Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums is holding a two-day workshop to explore the conditions of Syrian heritage sites and plans for post-crisis reconstruction. Read more on the Syria Times website here, and on the DGAM website in English and Arabic.

Mosaics: destruction and creation

Al-Monitor reports on the destruction of Syria’s mosaics and the challenges facing modern mosaic makers.

ATPA documents heritage sites

The archaeological sites in the middle Euphrates valley have been documented in a post (8/5/ 2017) from ATPA (PDF here). They documented some archaeological sites recently liberated by Syrian Democratic forces here.
There is also a report about archaeological sites in Al Hol area by ATPA  here.
Tell Badiri ,Tell Taban, and Tell Teninir have also been documented here.

Participation of DGAM in the Blue Shield Conference in Vienna

The DGAM, represented by Dr. Maamoun Abdulkarim, Director-General, participated in the Blue Shield Conference at Vienna Rathaus (Town Hall) in Austria between 14 and 15 September.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

  • None

International Activity

International meeting about de-escalation in Syria

An international meeting on de-escalation in Syria will take place in Astana, Kazakhstan, 14 – 15 September 2017. The talks are expected to include a joint statement on the humanitarian demining of historical monuments in Syria included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Read more on the Trend news agency website.

Fellowship opportunity in the Endangered Archives Programme – North Africa and Middle East.

This fellowship opportunity is within the Endangered Archives Programme (EAP), co-ordinated and hosted by the British Library. Supported by the Arcadia foundation, the EAP has a mission to protect through preservation, social and cultural archival material that is in danger of destruction, neglect or physical deterioration worldwide. Available in the following countries: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, LIBYA, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia.

New guide to cultural heritage preservation

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions has published a new guide to its work preserving cultural heritage.
Download the guide in English, French, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese and Arabic on the IFLA website here.

Academic article on destruction of Syrian artifacts

ASOR has provided a link to “Six Palmyrene Portraits Destroyed in Manbij, Syria: A Salvage Reading.” Abstract: Operatives of the Islamic State reportedly destroyed six Palmyrene funerary busts and statue fragments in Manbij, Syria, on July 2, 2015. This article considers the ethical implications of publishing photographs of antiquities that have been destroyed, arguing that in such dramatic cases as destruction, it is justified to publish readings. Photographs of these antiquities are then analyzed, their physical and iconographic characteristics described, and readings for three of the inscriptions suggested. Finally, the loss of data caused by the items’ destruction is measured against the loss of data occasioned by looting.
Read the article online here, Free access until Sept. 22.

Syrian artist event at Penn Museum

Issam Kourbaj – whose work is currently featured in the Penn Museum exhibition “Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories from Syria and Iraq” – will be holding a special event at the Penn Museum. Free Event Sunday, September 17, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm (Drop-in Workshop); 5:00 to 6:00 pm (Performance by Artist). Read more on the Art Fix Daily website here.

Presentation on illicit tracking of cultural objects

Dr. Eleanor King from Howard University will present on trafficking in illicit antiquities and how it relates to other crimes.  Bowdoin College, 20 September 2017 at 7 p.m. Details on the Bowdoin website.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • Apollo Magazine writes about the current condition of Aleppo, plus the challenges and opportunities of reconstruction for a city so rich in heritage.
  • Art Media Agency writes about how antiquities sales can fund conflict, reminding that “If you buy a Syrian or Iraqi antiquity today, you are taking part in organised crime.”
  • Hyperallergic Media explores the opportunities and challenges of recreating antiquities which might otherwise “pass out of sight and out of mind.”
  • The New India Express reports on Russian promises to assist with reconstruction efforts in Syria by sending construction and building materials.
  • The Gulf News publishes an opinion piece on the damage to cultural artifacts and monuments in Syria and beyond.
  • The Spec reports on a meal delivery service in the US that hires refugees to prepare dishes following their culinary traditions.

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

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

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