Damage to Syria’s heritage – 19 May 2018



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

19 May 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

DGAM Gallery documenting destruction.  Copyright: DGAM.

Devastating damage in Aleppo 

Amazing, devastating 3D documentation of the destruction of the city of Aleppo by Art Graphique and Patrimoine

DGAM sets up a photo gallery about damage 

The DGAM set up a photo gallery about the damage suffered by Syrian heritage sites in the countryside of Damascus. See photos of the gallery on the DGAM website here.

ASOR publishes March 2018 monthly report

The  ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives March 2018 Monthly Report is now available here.

  • Suspected Free Syrian Army fighters reportedly vandalized a Yezidi shrine dedicated to Kara Jorna in Aleppo Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 18-0071.
  • Turkish and Turkish-backed forces allegedly damaged the site of Barad in Aleppo Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 18-0076.
  • Volunteers renovated al-Kabir Mosque in Jisr al-Shughur, Idlib Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 18-0078.
  • New photographs show damage to the Maltai Rock Reliefs (Halamata Cave) near Kifriki Village, Dohuk Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 18-0005.
  • ISIS militants reportedly destroyed a Sufi Shrine in Tell Hama, Kirkuk Governorate. ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 18-0010.
  • Recent fighting damaged Sabha Castle in Sabha, Fezzan. ASOR CHI Incident Report LHI 18-0016.
  • Stabilization and restoration work has begun in the Souq al-Baladi in Benghazi, Cyrenaica. ASOR CHI Incident Report LHI 18-0018

Selections of ASOR CHI’s reporting content is now available in Arabic. Check the ASOR CHI website here for more.

Updates on Looting

Syrian Jewish heritage confiscated in Turkey  

Turkish security forces arrested four Syrians and a Turk. The two ancient copies of the Bible are engraved on the skin of a deer and embroidered with gold, emeralds and sapphires were put up for sale after being stolen from an old synagogue in Jubair and transferred to the Syrian north and then smuggled to Turkey.
Here is a video by Syria Tourism about the confiscation operation. Photos of the scrolls can be found here.

Intangible Heritage

Syrian-American author uses traditional storytelling techniques  

A Syrian-American author, Jennifer Joukhadar, uses traditional storytelling techniques in her newly published book The Map of Salt and Stars, which follows the stories of a Syrian family in New York and Homs.
Read more on the Times Union website here.

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Syrian archaeological and heritage sites draw more tourists 

The Syrian Minister of Tourism reports that during the past three years, tourism rates in Syria have increased by as much as thirty percent, in part thanks to the restoration of monuments and archaeological sites.
Read the original article on Xinhua Net here.

Syrian archaeologists present at international conference 

Syrian archaeologists attended the “Bridge of Civilisations” conference in Budapest, where they presented about recent and ongoing archaeological studies in Syria. Read more on SANA here.

Syrian art exhibition features Aleppo 

After a seven year break, the Aleppo Spring Art Exhibition exhibited Syrian artwork featuring Aleppo’s history and heritage.
Read more in the SANA article here.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

  • None

International Activity

UNESCO broadcast from Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights 

The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Ms Karima Bennoune, will be taking part in a public event in France in the coming week. For those who cannot travel to Paris for this occasion, the event entitled “Symposium on Towards Access to Culture for All” (in French and English) will be broadcast online on 22 May 2018, 15:00 – 17:30, UNESCO headquarters.
Webcast live accessible on UNESCO website here.

Museum exhibit in Prague on Syria’s historic sites  

The Czech National Museum opened an exhibit about conservation at Syrian archaeological sites. Learn more on the Czech Radio website here and SANA website here.

London talk about Palmyra reconstruction  

The Digital Classicist London 2018 (Institute of Classical Studies) begins on 1 June with a talk about reconstruction at Palmyra.
More information is available on the Digital Classicist website here.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • The Radio Times reported here on a BBC4 documentary, “The Road to Palmyra,” which interviews war photographer Don McCullin in connection to antiquities and historic sites in Syria.
  • Granta published here a beautifully written tragic account of Palmyra and her sister town of Tadmur, and those who have lived there, and live there still.
  • The Mayor of Paris announced the intent to continue plans to make Paris a safehaven for objects at risk from conflict in Le Figaro (In french).
  • The Huffington Post argued here that the sites of toppled temples in Syria should be treated as crime scenes.
  • The BBC here explores Syria’s musical heritage in “Did Syria create the world’s first song?”. No new information, but a poetic overview of musical traditions in Syria, where “music runs deeper into the fabric of the place than anywhere else in the world.”
  • Following the recent updates with Hobby Lobby, Motherboard wrote here about the ethics of studying past civilisations. Although the focus is on Iraq, analysis is relevant to Syrian artefacts too.
  • The National here questioned if reconstruction of Aleppo’s Grand Mosque will obscure the history of the conflict and destruction at the site.
  • The Kuwait News Agency here summarised Turkey’s recent efforts to combat antiquities smuggling, including international meetings to prevent smuggled artefacts from Syria.
  • Consortium News wrote here about the challenges of rebuilding Syria’s historic sites and how the government is approaching reconstruction in 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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