Damage to Syria’s Heritage – 19 June 2019

Damage to Syria’s Heritage

19 June 2019

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

Heritage for Peace new projects

Heritage for Peace is happy to announce the start of two projects as a partner with the Spanish National Research Council, Institut Mila I Fontanis. If you want to read more on this, go to the council’s website

Isber Sabrine, Chair of H4P, presented on the protection of cultural heritage between the past and the present, international efforts in the protection of cultural heritage at different levels, and the work of Heritage for Peace. Read more on the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia website.

Updates on Damage

Controlled fire at the Citadel of Aleppo. Image by Professor Mohamed Khair Rifai, shared by Aleppo Archaeology Facebook group

Controlled fire at Aleppo Castle

Aleppo Antiquities Facebook group have shared a number of posts reporting on a  controlled fire set at the base of the fortress in Aleppo to deal with the vegetation. However, concerns have been raised about damage affecting reconstruction by
Professor Mohamed Kheir Rifai, Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Heritage, and lawyer Mr al-Alaa.

Damage in Apamea

Head of Antiquities and Museums Department in Hama Abdul Qader Fzrat reports in SANA about the heavy damage to Apamea’s (a Tentative World Heritage Site) archaeological features, along with looting (see next next section).

Updates on Looting

Looting in Apamea

Abdul Qader Fzrat also reported looting from the Apamea museum in Qalaat al-Madiq in SANADr. Mahound Hamoud, Director of Antiquities and Museums, also reported on this on the Syria Times website.

Syrian army recovers stolen archaeological pieces

The Syrian army has recovered dozens of stolen archaeological pieces hidden in the city of Qalat Al Madiq, as well as stolen archaeological pieces from Quenitra National Museum, according to Prensa Latina English site.

ATHAR Project tracks antiquities sales on Facebook

ABC reported on the findings of the Antiquities Trafficking and Heritage Anthropology Research (ATHAR) Project, a small team of volunteers in the US and Europe, who are using Facebook to track antiquities sales online. Their work was recently presented at a workshop hosted by Stockholm University, entitled ‘Investigating and Policing Antiquities Trafficking and Forgery in a Digital Age.’

Lebanese artist traces trafficking and destruction of Syrian artifacts

Lebanese artist Rayyane Tabet has charted how 194 ancient reliefs, discovered in Syria almost 100 years ago, have been destroyed, rebuilt, stolen, sold off and transformed, according to the National website

Intangible Heritage

Syrian Cassette Archive in London preserving Syrian musical heritage

Musician Mark Gergis has collected hundreds of tapes over years of visits to Syria in an effort to preserve Syria’s endangered musical heritage. You can read more on this on the Financial Times.

Afrin musician teaches region’s musical heritage to children

Mostafa Bakr, a Kurdish musician from Afrin, has established a small music school where he teaches budding talents the regions’ musical heritage. There is more about this story on the Al-Monitor website here.

Comics help preserve cultural heritage for displaced Syrians

Comics for Youth Refugees Incorporated Collective (CYRIC) and the NuDay Syria NGO are providing displaced Syrian children connect with their homeland through comics based on folklore. Read more about this story on the My Salaam website.

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Restoration begun at Shazar Fortress

The DGAM have reported that the Department of Antiquities of Hama completed the first phase of the restoration and maintenance of the Shazar Fortress, which was severely damaged by terrorist groups occupying the area.

The main façade of the entrance to the castle and some walls and cracked walls, which required rapid intervention to prevent the decline of the construction of the castle and the Directorate of Antiquities will later carry out additional renovation.

Syrian-Czech cooperation strengthened

The DGAM website reports that the Director-General of Antiquities and Museums received the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Syria, Ms. Eva Felipe, to discuss the deepening of the bilateral relations between the two countries with regard to archaeological heritage and the prospect of scientific cooperation aimed at reconstruction of archaeological sites.

The Czech National Museum announced that the Syrian-Czech joint archaeological expedition will start excavations at Talet al-Shamiya site in Lattakia in the autumn of 2019, reported on the SANA website and the DGAM website. The event was part of a wider program of events celebrating Syrian-Czech relations.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

  • None

International Activity

Applications open for fellowship program for emerging displaced scholars

In partnership with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Columbia Global Centers: Amman has established a new fellowship program to support emerging displaced scholars working in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. The goal of the program is to create opportunities for scholars to reintegrate into academia and resume their academic pursuits. The Deadline is July 1st, 2019 and more details can be found on the Columbia Global Centers website. 

ICOMOS publishes Project Anqa final report

ICOMOS has released its final report on Project Anqa, which seeks to preserve endangered cultural heritage sites in Syria through their digitization using state of the art technology, build capacity in the region, promote the transfer of knowledge and create permanent architectural inventory units. You can read the report on the ICOMOS website in English and French.

Exhibition on Syrian archaeological sites in the Netherlands

The recently opened art exhibition “Syria” of the Dutch archaeologist and artist Theo de Vetter includes a number of archaeological missions in Syria, including Tel Hammam al-Turkmans on the eastern bank of the Balikh River. These paintings depict the work of these missions, their activities and the daily lives of their members, members of the community and the environment in which they worked. You can learn more on the DGAM website (Arabic).

Conference on Palmyra

A conference “The Small Stuff of the Palmyrenes: The coins and Tesserae of Palmyra” has been  organized by Professor Rubina Raja from Aarhus University. This will take place on June 20 to 21 at the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters in Copenhagen. For more information on the conference go to the events website here.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • US News wrote about how online tools make it easier to track antiquities online, for better and worse.
  • Deustche Welle published a short audio report about reconstruction of Palmyra.
  • Bloomberg wrote about the loss of Syrian intangible heritage and handicraft traditions.
  • The Global News reported on a catering company formed by three women in 2017 to help displaced Syrian women feel at home in Montreal.
  • Quartz reports on the research by a team of Near Eastern archaeologists and art market researchers who are attempting to quantify the market value of artifacts looted from two heritage sites in Syria: Dura Europos and Tell Bi’a.
  • The British Council published documentaries about two cultural protection fund projects in Jordan and Lebanon that are creating opportunities for displaced Syrian refugee communities. Some opportunities include the World Monument Fund’s stone-masonry programme training Syrians to become conservators of the future. You can find out more about this story on the British Council website.

This mailing list was produced by Dr Emma Cunliffe, in association with Heritage for Peace
Copyright © 2019 Heritage for Peace, All rights reserved.

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