Early Warning & Threat Monitoring of Syrian Cultural Heritage

GHN Heritage Hero Emma Cunliffe (Durham University, UK) has just updated GHN with timely articles and videos that outline the latest damage to various important cultural heritage sites across Syria during the ongoing conflict there.

Apamea, Syria (click here to visit site on GHN)

The ancient citadel of Qal’at al-Mudiq at the major Greek site of Apamea (Afamia) has been shelled by Syrian forces, as evidenced from harrowing video captured during a bombardment on March 26th.  Click here to see the video.


Palmyra, Syria (click here to visit site on GHN)

Protestors have made use of this UNESCO World Heritage Site during recent protests on December 30th of 2011. Click here to see the video.


Al-Bara, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Syria (click here to visit site on GHN)

Clear footage of damage caused by shell and machine gun fire can be seen at the site of Al-Bara in this video uploaded to Youtube.


Crac des Chevaliers, Syria (click here to visit site on GHN)

Reports of damage have been coming in recently, however none have been supported with direct photo or video evidence. However, protestors have also used this ancient citadel as a place of protest.  See protest footage here.

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Comment by Jenni Lukac on April 11, 2012 at 3:33am

Thanks for do so much to keep us up to date.

Comment by Emma Cunliffe on April 11, 2012 at 3:13am

Have updated the videos on Apamea.  Other news reports and videos (not all uploaded) include

  • The looting of Ebla, Palmyra and Tells Àcharneh, Ashari, and Hamoukar. A picture has been shared by PAS of an item confirmed looted from Hama Museum (http://tinyurl.com/bl6of76), and other items thought to have been taken include antique weapons.
  • Shelling of Mar Elias monastery, Mosque al-Umary, Mosque of Ariha, Salamyeh, Château de Chmémis, and further shelling of Homs and Hama.  
  • The limestone massif containing the UNESCO archaeological parks is thought to be an area at extreme risk according to Michel al-Maqdissi, head of archaeological excavations in Syria.

Jenni - It's awful, isn't it.  As a minor silver lining, the UNESCO statement has garnered a bit of media attention, and several blog entries, so at least people care a bit.  

Here is the new Apamea video mentioned above:

Comment by Jenni Lukac on April 7, 2012 at 2:37pm

This week el País ran a story in Spanish: La guerra en Siria castiga un patrimonio cultural clave . I just returned home from a visit to the ruins of the Spanish town of Belchite, destroyed during a prolonged battle between republican and nationalist troops during the Spanish Civil War. It is so disturbing that these things continue to happen.

Comment by Emma Cunliffe on April 1, 2012 at 10:57am

Video update: (link under Apamea on GHN): video released today shows tanks and soldiers milling at the gates of Qal'at al-Mudiq. Perhaps the citadel has fallen / surrendered?

Comment by Jenni Lukac on March 31, 2012 at 2:46pm

Thanks for keeping us updated, Emma.

Comment by Ileana Olmos on March 31, 2012 at 2:16pm

Such a terrible loss. Thank you for posting this video.

Comment by Emma Cunliffe on March 29, 2012 at 1:42am

New articles added today - 

In Apamea / Community / News - As well as further videos of the shelling of Qal'at al-Mudiq, there is also a video of the shelling of the ancient ruins of Apamea, which is probably one of my favourite archaeological sites in the world :-(

Also, GHN / Crac des Chevaliers / Documentation / Community / News Articles -  link to a video apparently confirming the reports of the shelling of the World Heritage Site of Crac Des Chevaliers.

Comment by Emma Cunliffe on March 28, 2012 at 2:52am

Kanita - No good muslim would knowingly do this... but when their life and their country are threatened, few people have thoughts to spare for the treasures of the past. So much of this has been done in ignorance of the consequences: I say these things to dispel that ignorance, so that good men can avoid this harm in future.

I also apologise, I cannot speak Arabic, and have only had the meaning explained to me.  I am sorry if it causes offence.

Comment by Emma Cunliffe on March 28, 2012 at 12:45am

I should probably add that there are more links in the "news" section of each archaeological site on GHN - if you click into the news article, it lists all the other links, for example, at Qal'at al-Mudiq there are numerous videos - this is a good one - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSWt4k_k0pE&feature=youtu.be and is directly comparable to a photo of the citadel which is already up on the site.  (Although I'm having trouble with the links - they are getting stopped by the Uni portal for some reason - if it doesn't work, cut and paste it directly)

Comment by Emma Cunliffe on March 28, 2012 at 12:29am

Jenni - most of the information comes via this Facebook group, (although I'm also keeping tabs on news articles and the like).  They aren't always correct (they keep confusing Crak des Chevaliers and Qal'at al-Mudiq), but since the conflict started they have been regualrly collating information regarding damage to all of the Syria's heritage sites:


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