Damage to Syria’s heritage – 24 July 2017



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

24 July 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

Road runing alongside the city wall of Raqqa. Photo copyright: ASOR

Photos of Damage to al-Rafiqah Wall in Raqqa’s Old City

The city wall of Raqqa, part of the Tentative World Heritage site, was damaged in two sections by airstrikes on July 3, 2017. Assessments of the damage are now available.

  • ASOR shows satellite imagery of the damage on their website here.
  • View another photo of damage to the wall on Facebook here.

Damage in Aleppo

The Aleppo Archaeology Facebook page shared a post depicting a picture of a severely damaged building, named the Dar Rajab Pasha Cultural Center. The post stated the centre has been damaged, but it seems that the damage occurred a while ago at an unknown date. A photograph of the building can be seen here.

Damage in Idlib

The DGAM received a collection of photos showing infringements in the villages of Jabal al-Zawia in Idlib province: Bara, Maglia, Bashila, Bouda, Sergila, available here.

The Idlib Antiquities Centre Facebook page shared a photos of damage to Al-Faramiyah Castle in the village of Al-Mozara, which has been damaged by shelling, and illegal excavations, available here.

They also shared photos of damage to one of the dead cities, here.

Damage to Resafa

The DGAM has shared photos of the state of the site recently recovered site of Resafa, available here.

Updates on Looting

Documentation of stolen objects from Bayt Ghazalyeh published

Aleppo archaeologist Rami Alafandi and Asiah Abdul Rahim published The Lost Treasure of the Polychrome Wooden (‘ajami) Interior of Ghazalyeh House, Aleppo, Syria in Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 222, p 569-620. It is hoped their meticulous documentation will help restore the late 17th century house’s panels which were restored from 2009-2011 and then stolen in 2013.

“Mesopotamian” Cultural Property Seized in Iran  

The Financial Tribune reports that “59 relics were seized last week in Varamin, Tehran Province, during a police raid, a local cultural heritage official said.” Mesopotamian is a catch all term that stops them being linked to Syria or Iraq, and only 29 are confirmed from Iran. Read more on the Financial Tribute website here.

Forgery Seized in Al-Jazira Canton

The Authority of Tourism and Protection of Antiquities in Al-Jazira Canton released a statement reporting a seizure of a forgery from antiquity traffickers. The forgery is a vase decorated with statues of three women carved in a relief shape. The item has been photographed, and can be seen in the full article.

Palmyrene antiquities seized 

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has recovered several artifacts that were stolen from the ancient city of Palmyra by the so-called Islamic State (ISIL), the Syrian Arab News Agency reported here.

Intangible Heritage

Syrian heritage festival held in Damascus

The Syrian Popular Heritage Festival in Damascus included traditional handicrafts and art by Syrian craftsmen. Read more on the Syria Times website here.

Website documents intangible heritage

A new website documents the traditional crafts of Syria. Learn more on the Crafts of Syria website.

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Another appeal to protect the bridge of Ein Dewar

The Directorate-General of Antiquities & Museums has issued another appeal to the relevant international institutions to protect the Ein Dewar Bridge from collapsing. More on this historic bridge on the Tigris River in the north-eastern part of Syria can be read on the DGAM website here.

DGAM starts working on a national database

The Directorate-General of Antiquities & Museums released a statement announcing the project that aims to “save a copy of all digital and electronic data of DGAM in all its directorates and museums in a scientific and methodological manner.” More about the project’s tools, equipment, and technological aspects can be read in the full article, Launching the Project of the National Bank of Digital Information, here.

French company works with DGAM on Temple of Bel

The Directorate-General of Antiquities & Museums released a statement announcing a cooperative project with the French company Art Graphique & Patrimoine to reconstruct the entrance to the Temple of Bel at Palmyra. However, they are first documenting the site under the supervision of UNESCO to prepare a rehabilitation plan. Read more on the DGAM website here.

Idlib’s archaeologists meet

The Idlib Antiquities Center stated that they held a preparatory meeting at the center for Idlib’s antiquities professionals to discuss moving forward on establishing an overarching body for the province’s archaeological heritage. Photographs of the meeting can be seen here.

In addition, they have released videos of the workshop to develop legal rules for the protection of cultural property in cooperation with the organisation of Lawyers for Justice, Nasra Al Mazloum Center, the Bar Association and a representative of the Interim Government, here. here, and here.

Photographs from 3D documentation of Palmyra released

As a result of a collaboration between the Directorate-General of Antiquities & Museums and ICONEM, several archaeological sites in the city that were affected by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been documented utilising 3D technology. Photographs of the results can be seen here.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

  • None

International Activity

ICOM participates in expert consultation on protecting cultural property

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court – ICC in The Hague organised a first Expert Consultation on Cultural Property on 10th July. Among 20+ experts from across world, ICOM’s Director of Programmes, France Desmarais, took part in the consultation to contribute as an expert in the protection of cultural heritage at risk. Learn more on Facebook here.

Workshop dedicated to rebuilding in Syria

The 2017 IUAV University of Venice workshop “Syria/the making of the future” concluded on July 14. The workshop was focused on rebuilding efforts in Syria. Learn more on the Floornature website here.

New regulations to combat illicit trafficking 

The European Commission has approved regulations to decrease the illicit traffic of cultural property. Read an overview of the proposal on the Art Crime Blogspot here. However, concerns have been expressed that, whilst the regulations are welcomes, they are not enforceable due to the reductions and closures of Police Art and Antiquities Units in several countries. In particular, Belgium is criticised as a ‘weak link’ in the trafficking of cultural objects. Read more on the Brussels Times website here.

The UN Security Council has adopted Resolution 2368 (2017), which reaffirms its resolve to combat terrorism, including prevention of antiquities trafficking, available here.

Risk Management webcasts available online

CCI held the Risk Management and Risk-based Decision Making for Museum, Gallery, Archive and Historic House Collections workshop. Four webcast recordings from this advanced professional development workshop are now online:

  • Risk Management Webcast Part 1: Why risk-based decision making?
  • Risk Management Webcast Part 2: Why the value pie?
  • Risk Management Webcast Part 3: Cost, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness ratio
  • Risk Management Webcast Part 4: Frameworks, maps, tools and patterns

These recordings explain how to use risk management techniques to make decisions regarding the care of collections on display and in storage.
Consult these webcasts and other free online risk management resources, including The ABC Method: a risk management approach to the preservation of cultural heritage.

Open call: Ettijahat Research Programme

Ettijahat-Independent Culture launches the new edition of Research: To Strengthen the Culture of Knowledge. This capacity-building programme aims to provide an opportunity for full-time commitment for Syrian and Palestinian- Syrian young researchers (22-40 years old) to research within the field of cultural studies. Final deadline for submission is 27 August 2017. Download the application on the Ettijahat website here.

Rumour Has it: A guide to working with rumours

RUMOUR HAS IT: A  guide to working with rumours” is a new report that offers advice on rumours – Why they matter and how to work with them in humanitarian response. Some great tips for those working in Syria and those assessing damage via social media. Read the ALNAP report here.

Funding available for Syrian archives

Open call: first aid to documentary heritage under threat
The Prince Claus Fund, through its Cultural Emergency Response programme (CER), and the Whiting Foundation announce a new call for proposals for projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean to safeguard documentary heritage that is acutely threatened by recent conflict or other disaster, whether natural or man-made.
For details on Eligibility, Selection Criteria, and how to apply, see the call here

Continued international focus on conflict, antiquities and funding

The Antiquities Coalition calls on the Global Coalition Against Daesh to end the trade in “conflict antiquities” as a source of terrorist financing. Learn more on the AC website here.

Upcoming symposium in Melbourne on Syria

“Textile Syria: Ancient History – Modern Conflict expands on the exhibition, exploring Australian archaeological work in Syria across three decades.” Saturday 12 Aug 2017 to Sunday 13 Aug 2017, 9.30- 5.00pm. Learn more on the Ian Potter Museum of Art website here.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • A project from UNHCR in partnership with Google addresses common questions about the Syrian refugee crisis. Learn more on the Searching for Syria website.
  • Architectural Digest interviews World Monument Fund Executive VP Lisa Ackerman, discusses whether heritage sites damaged during conflict should be rebuilt. View it on the Architectural Digest website.
  • The American Interest website published an overview of the problems facing Syria and reconstruction. Whilst it’s US focused, the problems are not unique to the USA. Read the American Interest article here.
  • The Gulf News website explores the work of Cambridge archaeologist Augusta McMahon in Syria. Read more on the Gulf News website here.
  • Al-Monitor reports on ‘Refugees Got Talent’, an UNHCR-organised show in Egypt which showcased Syrian performers. Read more on the Al-Monitor website here.
  • Asharq Al-Awsat reports briefly on reconstruction in Syria and the politics of cultural reconstruction projects. Read more on the Asharq Al-Awsat website here.
  • The Volos City Museum’s new photography exhibition, “The Syria I Loved,” features pictures taken in Syria during 1999, 2008 and 2009. It will be open through October 29. Read more on the Ekathimerini website here.
  • Archaeologist Tiffany Ftaimi shows why Aleppo’s finest palace- the 16th century Dar Janbolad with its stunning Iwān mean so much to her and the Arab world, for the Aleppo Project, here.
  • Al Jazeera profiles Syrians working to protect their heritage, here. (The article is shared by Aleppo Project, and the date is unclear).

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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