Damage to Syria’s heritage – 31 December 2017



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

31 December 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, availbale 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

Seasons Greetings from Heritage For Peace 

From all of us at Heritage for Peace, we wish you joy and peace this festive season and into 2018.

Updates on Damage

Damage documented to multiple sites

Archaeologists from ATPA in Al-Jazira canton have documented the damage to

  • Raqqa Museum, releasing a video here.
  • The historic wall of Raqqa and the Baghdad Gate, here. Parts of the wall itself were destroyed because of bombing, as well as some damage to the outside. Some of the outward facade has collapsed, and the inward facade was exposed to missiles. In addition, the wall has deteriorated due to the weather conditions.
  • ATPA have also documented damage to Hergla, also known as Herqla, in this video, here.
  • the site of al-Soura in Al-Tabqa, which has been bulldozed, here.

Updates on Looting

New article on looting in Syria

The Illegal Excavation and Trade of Syrian Cultural Objects: A View from the Ground is now available in the Journal of Field Archaeology, here. This research was carried out by Dr Neil Brodie from the EAMENA project at the University of Oxford and Isber Sabrine of Heritage for Peace. Heritage for Peace is thankful to all their members inside Syria who facilitated their research.
If you are unable to access the article, but would like a copy, please contact Isber Sabrine at Heritage for Peace here.

Stolen historic rug recovered

Police units seized a historical rug, which was stolen from a museum in Syria, during an anti-smuggling operation in Turkish capital Ankara. Read more in the Daily Sabah here.

Intangible Heritage

  • None

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Mosaic restoration work

Video of a mosaic restoration project by Maher Jbaee and Moutaz Alshaieb, called”A New Mosaic from Phillipoppolis, Syria”. The video is available here.

New articles available

Nour A. Munawar has published a summary of the UNESCO Experts Meeting from June 2016 in EX NOVO Journal of Archaeology, Volume 2, December 2017: 123-129, available here.

The volume also contains his article: Reconstructing Cultural Heritage in Conflict Zones: Should Palmyra be Rebuilt? available here.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

  • None

International Activity

ReACH Declaration

Spearheaded by the V&A Museum, a new declaration has been signed on the ‘Reproduction of Art and Cultural Heritage’ (ReACH), 150 years after Henry Cole first laid out his guiding principles on the topic.
Read more, including on the V &A website here.

Call for participants in upcoming “Syria’s Displaced and the Obstacles to Return”

The Aleppo Project calls for participants in the 4th annual Lemkin Reunion, on the topic of “Syria’s Displaced and the Obstacles to Return.”
February 18-19 at Central European University
Learn more on the Aleppo Project website here (English) / (Arabic – here).

States highlight mine threat to cultural heritage

The Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey (hereinafter – the Guarantors) state that there exists a large-scale threat of deliberate destruction and mining of world historical monuments and UNESCO cultural heritage sites in Syria by terrorist organizations. They released a Joint Statement on humanitarian mine action in Syria, including the UNESCO list of cultural heritage sites. Read more here.

UNESCO calls for better safeguarding of cultural heritage

UNESCO called on the UN to protect cultural heritage, fight the smuggling of cultural artifacts, and better safeguard cultural property during conflict.
Read more on the UN website here.

Armed Non-State Actors and Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict

New article by Marina Lostal, Kristen Hausler and Pascal Bongard in the International Journal of Cultural Property. This article presents the preliminary findings of a scoping study that Geneva Call is conducting to understand the existing dynamics between armed non-state actors (ANSAs) and cultural heritage. Geneva Call is a Swiss-based non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting the respect of international humanitarian law by ANSAs. The study centres on three case studies—Syria, Iraq, and Mali—on which information has been obtained through desk and field research, interviews with ANSAs operating in those countries, and with leading organizations committed to the protection of cultural heritage, globally or regionally. The article first maps the various attitudes of ANSAs toward cultural heritage, highlighting both positive and negative examples from current practices. Then it analyzes the response of specialized organizations to the impact of ANSAs on cultural heritage and their level of engagement with these actors on cultural heritage issues. Finally, the conclusion offers some tentative recommendations to enhance the respect of cultural heritage by ANSAs in non-international armed conflicts. Article here.

Catastrophe and Challenge – cultural heritage in post-conflict recovery

Free pdf – “Catastrophe and challenge – Cultural heritage in post-conflict recovery
Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Heritage Conservation and Site Management December 5–7, 2016, BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg
Download the proceedings here (link on the right).

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • Imagine a world without the Eiffel Tower or the Pyramids. Manar Kerdy explains not only why these monuments might have a bigger meaning than we realise, but how their rebuilding can actually fight terror peacefully. Watch the TEDx Talk here.
  • A Syrian-born archaeologist documents the destruction and looting of his country’s heritage with the help of a network of volunteers on the ground. Interview with Cheikmous Ali of the Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology here.
  • TASS writes about the conflict-inflicted damage to heritage sites in Syria, including World Heritage sites and local shines and churches, and reports that restoration efforts are underway, here.
  • Interview with Corrado Catesi, from INTERPOL HQ, which delves into the fight against the Illicit trafficking of cultural property, and how organisations like INTERPOL and UNESCO are working to stop it.
  • A year after the “fall” of Aleppo, Al-Monitor wanted to reopen the conversations with the journalists, media activists, photographers and citizens from Aleppo who had been the last one’s left during the siege of eastern Aleppo. Read the Al-Monitor article here.
  • Michael Danti, Academic Director of ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives, talks here on enlisting dogs to sniff out stolen antiquities, a topic also covered by Art Net here.
  • There have been a series of articles discussing the ReACH declaration, the use of reproductions, and the difference between “Authentic” and “Original”, including in the Financial Tribune, Apollo Magazine, the Daily Beast, and in Art Net.

This mailing list was produced by Dr Emma Cunliffe, in association with Heritage for Peace
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