The ASOR Syrian Heritage Initiative is a cooperative agreement between ASOR and the U.S. Department of State that is designed to document, protect, and preserve the cultural heritage of war-torn Syria. Hundreds of significant heritage sites have been damaged since fighting began in 2011. Although the destruction of cultural property represents only part of the humanitarian crisis, these harmful actions threaten our common world heritage and the cultural diversity of the Syrian people. We have an ethical obligation to respond, and our project is part of an international effort to empower Syrians to protect their heritage and cultural identity.
The ASOR Syrian Heritage Initiative implements cultural property protection by:
1. Promoting global awareness
2. Documenting and mapping heritage damage
3. Planning emergency responses and post-war initiatives
Promoting Global Awareness
Documenting and Mapping Heritage Damage
- Monitor a wide range of media to document the impact of the conflict on cultural heritage
- Communicate with Syrian heritage specialists, networks of volunteers, and NGOs to help monitor, document, and verify the condition of heritage collections and sites
- Provide Syrians with training in and tools for heritage documentation
- Coordinate efforts with other organizations that are working to safeguard Syrian heritage
Planning Emergency Responses and Post-war Initiatives
- Utilize satellite imagery to monitor, document, and verify damage and preservation needs
- Develop a comprehensive digital map and inventory of cultural heritage sites
- Create a bibliography and repository of sources on cultural heritage collections and sites in Syria
- Engage and share information with other groups that are creating inventories and maps of cultural heritage
- Produce written and imagery-based condition documentation for sites in the heritage inventory and assess the major preservation issues affecting cultural heritage
- Develop multiple small and large-scale documentation and preservation projects for heritage sites in Syria that can be implemented in the future
- Provide resources for short-term, high impact mitigation projects to prevent and decrease the risk of further damage to collections and sites
- Identify human resource priorities and training needed to strengthen future cultural heritage management capacity for Syria
Prescott, Kurt. 6 Things You Need to Know About ASOR’s Syrian Heritage Initiative. ASOR, 2014.
Syrian Heritage Initiative BibliographiesIn order to understand fully the damage that has occurred to Syrian cultural heritage sites, it is important to obtain a comprehensive understanding of these sites prior to the civil conflict that began in 2011. Academic publications, excavation reports, archaeological surveys, and damage assessments are just some of the many sources that can paint a broad picture of pre-conflict cultural heritage in Syria, which in turn proves instrumental to our documentation efforts and preservation planning. Below you will find a series of bibliographies that contain both published and unpublished works in a variety of languages, including English, Arabic, French, German, and Italian, among others. We encourage you to seek out these sources and to learn more about the cultural heritage that is currently at risk.
BIBLIOGRAPHIES BY TOPIC:
Update on the Situation in Palmyra | Read the ReportSince its capture by ISIL militants in May 2015, the region around the ancient city of Palmyra (modern Tadmor) has been in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, which has escalated dramatically in recent weeks. This report will provide a summary of the current situation in Palmyra and the effects of the conflict on its people and cultural heritage. Atrocities include attacks on civilians and mass abductions. Intentional damage to the cultural materials of the local populations is widespread, including the destruction of Islamic and Christian religious sites, as well as severe damage to the architectural remains within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palmyra. Confirmed damage at this archaeological site includes the destruction of the Baalshamin Temple, the Temple of Bel, and at least seven tower tombs within the Valley of the Tombs.
Palmyra: Heritage Adrift | Read the ReportThis special report by Cheikhmous Ali (Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology) provides a detailed account of damage done to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palmyra between February 2012 and June 2015.
Special Report on the Importance of Palmyra | Read the ReportThe ancient city of Palmyra stands out as one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Syria and, indeed, the world. Following the takeover of the site and the adjacent town of Tadmor by ISIL, Palmyra has been in the news daily. The purpose of this report is to provide a concise introduction to the site and its importance so that the international community can better understand why it should be saved.
Report on the Destruction of the NW Palace at Nimrud | Read the ReportA video released by ISIL on April 11, 2015, provided vivid and shocking documentation of the deliberate destruction of relief sculpture and standing architecture at the famous archaeological site of Nimrud, located in northern Iraq near the city of Mosul. The video documents ISIL militants vandalizing, smashing, and piling up relief slabs using hand tools, power tools, and vehicles; it then shows the detonation of the relief slabs and large parts of the Northwest Palace using a series of barrel bombs. This report provides a brief introduction to the site of Nimrud and summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding the destruction of the Northwest Palace.