List of heritage sites damaged during the Syrian Civil War

This is a list of heritage sites that were damaged or destroyed during the Syrian Civil War. Damage has been caused to numerous historic buildings, tell mounds and archaeological locations, including all six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country.[1] Destructive effects of the conflict are caused by shelling, looting and rebel occupation.

Shelling

Concern has also been raised about sites likely to be affected by shelling including the World Heritage Sites at the centres of Damascus and Aleppo and the tentative World Heritage Site of Norias of Hama.

Looting

There are twenty five cultural heritage museums dispersed around Syria, many with artifacts stored outside. It has been reported that the museum at Homs has been looted and that only the museums and monuments of Damascus are safe from looting and destruction from the escalating warfare between government and armed rebel militias. Syria's Prime Minister, Adel Safar, warned on 11 July 2011 that "the country is threatened by armed criminal groups with hi-tech tools and specialized in the theft of manuscripts and antiquities, as well as the pillaging of museums" and called for increased security measures.[2]

  • The Museum of Hama: "According to sources in Syria, the well-known regional Museum of Hama situated in the town of Hama, north-west region of Syria, has fallen victim to looters. Notably, an intricate gilt bronze statue, dating back to the Aramaean era, is currently reported as missing, and there are growing fears it may be trafficked out of Syria to international markets."[17]
  • The Raqqa Museum,[18] also known as the Qala'at Jabar Museum, was looted on 1 May 2012. Stolen items included three figurines of the goddess Ishtar and pottery dating to the third millennium BC.
  • Roman mosaics were looted from Apamea with Roman floors were ripped up with bulldozers.
  • Two capitals from the colonnade of Decumanus, the main (Roman) road in Apamea.
  • The Museum of Deir ez-Zor
  • The Maarat al-Numan Museum[2]

Security at the Museum of Idlib has also been raised as a concern by the organization Syrian Archaeological Heritage Under Threat. The lack of documentation of antiquities in the country has created a severe problem protecting the collections. Looting carries a fifteen-year prison sentence in Syria.[19]

Latest reports indicate a growing black market in the region where antiquities are being traded for weapons by the rebels. Time Magazine commented that continued looting will "rob Syria of its best chance for a post-conflict economic boom based on tourism, which, until the conflict started 18 months ago, contributed 12% to the national income."[1]

Army or militias occupation

Damage to ancient sites can be caused due to army occupation by encampments, entrenchment of military vehicles and weapons. It can also be caused during movement of materials for construction, souvenirs or even target practice.

  • Palmyra (World Heritage Site), tank occupation, statues and reliefs damaged.[4]
  • Apamea (Tentative World Heritage Site), damaged by bulldozers used by looters digging into the citadel mound for treasure.[20]
  • Bosra (World Heritage Site), damaged by tanks.
  • Tell Rifa'i or Tell Rifa'at, damaged by soldiers using it as a camp.
  • The Chateau de Chmemis in Salamyeh, shelters for tanks excavated at the base of the citadel.
  • Khan Sheikhoun, shelters for tanks on the slopes of the tell.
  • Tell Afis, damaged by encampments.
  • Tell A'zaz, damaged by installation of heavy weaponry.
  • Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi monastery, possibly damaged during army search.
  • Kafr Nubbel rock shelters, damaged during searches for deserters.
  • Qal Markab, damaged by installation of heavy weaponry.
  • Tell Nebi Mend, damaged by installation of heavy weaponry.
  • Homs Qal, tanks and heavy weaponry installation.
  • Qal Hama, tanks and heavy weaponry installation.
  • Sidi Yahia mosque, tanks and heavy weaponry installation.[21]

Demolition

Several cultural heritage sites in Syria have been deliberately destroyed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from 2014 onwards, including:

UNESCO reaction

On 30 March 2012, Irena Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO made a public appeal for the protection of Syria's cultural heritage and expressed "grave concern about possible damage to precious sites."[22]

On 2 October, Bokova issued a statement of regret about the destruction and fire that burnt the ancient souk in the old city of Aleppo. Calling it a "crossroads of cultures since the 2nd millennium BC". She called on the parties involved to comply with the Hague Convention of 1954 on the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict. She furthermore promised to send a team to assess the situation and provide assistance for emergency situations in order to protect Aleppo's heritage and to mitigate the effects of the cultural disaster and to avoid further damage.[23]

In June 2013, UNESCO placed Syria's six World Heritage Sites on the organization's list of endangered sites.[24]

See also

References

  1. Aryn Baker, "Syria's Looted Past: How Ancient Artifacts Are Being Traded for Guns", world.time.com, 12 September 2012.(Archived October 13, 2012, at WebCite)
  2. "Robert Fisk: Syria's ancient treasures pulverised". The Independent. 5 August 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-08-06. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  3. "Latest victim of Syria air strikes: Famed Krak des Chevaliers castle". Middle East Online. 13 July 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-10-02. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  4. Colvin, Mark. "Fears for Syria's lost heritage", abc.net.au, 3 September 2012. (Archived October 13, 2012, at WebCite)
  5. Aleppo's ancient city a victim of Syrian war, Reuters.com, 28 August 2012. (Archived October 13, 2012, at WebCite)
  6. Souk burns as Aleppo fight rages, Irish Times, 29 September, 2012. (Archived October 13, 2012, at WebCite)
  7. [http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/Oct-10/190895-syria-rebels-battle-army-in-landmark-aleppo-mosque.ashx#axzz29Cam5zsu Syria rebels battle army in landmark Aleppo mosque, The Daily Star (Lebanon), 10 October 10, 2012. (Archived October 13, 2012, at WebCite)
  8. Syria insurgents damage historical mosque in Aleppo, PressTV.ir, 11 October 2012. (Archived October 13, 2012, at WebCite)
  9. The destruction and shelling of sites (Archived August 12, 2012, at WebCite)
  10. Al-Qusair - Destruction monastére Mar Elias القصير- دمار في دير مار الياس on YouTube
  11. اثار القصف على المسجد العمري بالدبابات بالحراك on YouTube
  12. In the monastery of Sednaya (or Seydnaya), apparently founded by the Emperor Justinian – the people of the village still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus – shellfire has damaged the oldest section of the building, which dates back to 574. The Umayyad Mosque in Deraa, one of the oldest Islamic-era structures in Syria, built at the request of the Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab, has also been damaged.
  13. Aleppo citadel hit by shelling, says opposition Archived 2012-08-14 at WebCite, dailystar.com.lb, 11 August 2012; accessed 27 August 2015.
  14. ("Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 14, 2012. Retrieved 2015-09-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link))
  15. "Ancient Syrian temple damaged in Turkish raids against Kurds". timesofisrael. Archived from the original on 2018-01-30. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  16. "Syrian government says Turkish shelling damaged ancient temple". reuters. Archived from the original on 2018-01-28. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  17. Safeguarding Syrian cultural heritage Archived 2015-08-28 at the Wayback Machine, unesco.org; accessed 27 August 2015.
  18. Museum of Raqqa webpage Archived 2015-07-27 at the Wayback Machine, ucla.edu; accessed 27 August 2015.
  19. Cunliffe, Emma."Damage to the Soul: Syria's cultural heritage in conflict", Durham University and the Global Heritage Fund, 1 May 2012. (Archived August 12, 2012, at WebCite)
  20. Syrian looters in bulldozers seek treasure amid chaos Archived 2017-02-26 at the Wayback Machine, bloomberg.com, 28 July 2013; accessed 27 August 2015.
  21. Archived 2017-02-13 at the Wayback Machine, naturerated.com, 12 February 2017; accessed 12 February 2017.
  22. UNESCO World Heritage Centre (30 March 2012). "Director-General of UNESCO appeals for protection of Syria's cultural heritage". Archived from the original on 2014-10-18. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  23. "UNESCO Director General deplores destruction of ancient Aleppo markets". 2 October 2012. Archived from the original on 2014-12-08. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  24. "Six Syrian heritage sites declared endangered". 21 June 2013. Archived from the original on 2015-02-10. Retrieved 20 November 2014.

Bibliography

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