What is being done to protect Syria’s heritage?

Interpol’s “most wanted poster featuring the golden Aramaic statuette stolen from the Hama museum.

The unrest in Syria has lasted for more than a year now. Quickly after the first protests, the first damages to Syria’s cultural heritage were witnessed. Local people using ancient stones to build their houses, the military digging archaeological sites to protect their tanks, fights in Homs and Hama destroying the cities culture. It is still unclear in which context some of the damage is carried out. It is ultimately the responsibility of the Syrian government and the DGAM to protect its heritage against any kind of destruction. Several institutions have raised their concerns about the apparent disregard of the Syrian government to this destruction. Recent UNESCO talks in Bamako raised concerns about the situation in Syria and mentioned the possibility of sending a team of experts into sites such as the Krak des Chevaliers, Salah ed-Din Crusader castles, and Palmyra. INTERPOL also sent a « call for vigilance on looting of ancient mosaics in Syria », aiming to recover a number a mosaics stolen from Afamya. This therefore suggests that the international pressure in Syria is increasing and will hopefully soon lead to a concrete effort made towards the protection of the Syrian patrimony and the common cultural heritage of humanity.

—Bastien Varoutsikos, Harvard University. Research Interests: Near Eastern Prehistory, Transition, Neolithic, Obsidian, Lithic Technology, Physico-chemical analysis (xrf), GIS, Process of Diffusion and Acquisition of Technology.