Damage to Syria’s heritage – 22 October 2018



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

22 October 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

Images of the Destruction in Afrin. Source: The Authority of Tourism and Protection of Antiquities.

Illegal exploration and systematic destruction of heritage sites in Afrin

According to the Authority of Tourism and the Protection of Antiquities, heritage sites in Afrin have been exposed to many violations. According to reports received by the ANHA news agency,  as well as the Directorate of Antiquities and Museums in Damascus, several archaeological sites have been damaged by shelling. Many archaeological sites in Afrin like Ain Dara and Brad have been exposed to illegal activities. 

Updates on Looting

Ancient sites in Manbij damaged by looters

SANA report that sites in the area of Manbij (Membij) have suffered extensive damage through illegal excavation and looting of antiquities. The DGAM is coordinating with the United Nations and UNESCO to report on the damages and take action. ABNA have also reported on the problem.

Intangible Heritage

Syrian food on top again 

A heritage food festival in Amritsar is celebrating cuisines from over thirty countries, including Syria. You can read more on the Shillong Times.

A Tennessee falafel shop, run by Syrian refugees who came to hte US 7 years ago has been named Reader’s Digest ‘Nicest Place in America’, according to abc News.

Series explores oral culture and Syrian identity

Open Democracy published an article as part of a special series focused on Oral Culture and Identity in Syria. Learn more on the Open Democracy website.

Syrian music performed in Algiers

The Syrian National Symphony Orchestra performed at the 10th International Symphonic Music Festival in Algiers as part of a program titled “Musicians from Syria.” To learn more go to the SANA website.

Damascus exhibition of Syrian crafts

An exhibition at the Abu Rummaneh Cultural Center in Damascus showcased traditional Syrian handicrafts by master craftsmen. You can learn more about this here.

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Archaeological survey project

The Authority of Tourism and Protection of Antiquities completed the first step of the archaeological survey project which lasted three days with the participation of a number of cadres of the authority and a group of archaeological students from the Euphrates University in Al-Haska. You can read more about this here.

Report on the restoration work at Tell Beydar

This video shows the restoration work ongoing at the site of Tell Beydar (in Arabic), by the Authority of Tourism and the Protection of Antiquities.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

Reopening of the National Museum in Damascus

The DGAM website and the Ministry of Culture’s Facebook page report that the National Museum in Damascus will reopen on October 28, 2018 and will be accompanied by a two-day international symposium involving a number of archaeologists.

Idlib campaign to combat antiquities violations

The Idlib Antiquities Center is continuing its electronic popular campaign, calling on the international community, local and international organizations, to put an end to the violations of ruins and the heritage in Idlib governate. Read more on this on the Enab Baladi website.

International Activity

Russia calls on UNESCO to restore Syrian monuments

Russia is calling on UNESCO to engage in restoration of monuments in Aleppo and Palmyra. Read more on this on Urdu Point’s website.

Syrian antiquities on show at Lebanon museum

The inaugural exhibition at the new Nabu Museum in Lebanon includes antiquities from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and other countries. You can learn more on this on the albawaba website and on the Daily Mail website.

Virtual exploration of Palmyra an Aleppo

The Arab World Institute, in partnership with UNESCO, has created a virtual journey of 4 mythical sites in the ARAB world: Palmyra, Aleppo, Mosul and Leptis Magna. You can read more on this at the Arab World Institute.

Paper addresses connection between cultural heritage and genocide.

The Getty published the second in a series of occasional papers, Cultural Genocide and the Protection of Cultural Heritage, addressing the connection between genocide and the destruction of cultural heritage, and mentions Syria as an example. To learn more, and download the free pdf, go to The Getty Blog.

Videos on ‘Cultural Heritage, Law and War” published online

The Institute for Future Studies posted videos on their website from the workshop “Cultural heritage, Law and War” held in September 2018. You can watch these videos here.

Counter ISIS finance group leaders issue joint statement

In late September, the Counter ISIS Finance Group (CIFG) convened its 52 member states and observers in Poland to discuss ongoing global efforts to counter ISIS financing. Members acknowledged the importance of preventing the trade in archaeological property illegally removed by ISIS from Iraq and Syria and the value of recovery and reconstruction of cultural heritage in the stabilization process. You can read more on this here.

UN General Assembly presentation on cultural rights

The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights will be presenting her latest report to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday October 23rd. To highlight the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this report discusses the relationship between the universality of human rights, cultural diversity and cultural rights and addresses how to continue to strengthen this relationship today. There is more on this on the Heritage for Peace Facebook page.

The 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects entered into force in Syria

On October 1, 2018 the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects entered into force in Syria. Learn more about the 1995 Convention here.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • SANA published photos and a short history about Souq al-Harir, one of the oldest markets in Damascus.
  • Deutsche Welle published an interview with Friederike Fless, president of the German Archaeological Institute, about how heritage sites are both protected and threatened.
  • WeTalkUAV and Euro News reported about ICONEM using drones to recreate Syrian heritage sites and working with the video game company Ubisoft to create an immersive virtual reality experience for audiences to explore the digital reconstructions.
  • ICONEM published a 3D rendering on Facebook showing the devastation to Syria’s heritage sites.
  • The Conversation wrote here about how Syria, architects and urban planners are working to save cultural artifacts and rebuild heritage sites.
  • An Italian professor Gabriele Fangi of the University of Ancona discusses giving back Aleppo one of its historical symbols.
  • Synaps Network explains how Syrian society has changed.
  • Daily Sabah writes about looting, smuggling, and the Turkish experience of repatriation.
  • Business Insider reports on the stolen antiquities recovered by the Syrian government and put on display in Damascus.
  • TheWeek.com writes about the Syrian and Iraqi tour guides at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology’s Middle East gallery.

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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