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General brief up-dating (according to Syrian official sources; Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums -DGAM) – University of Copenhagen

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28 November 2013

General brief up-dating (according to Syrian official sources; Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums -DGAM)

November 2013

  • In the region of Damascus, the inner facade of the Umayyad mosque ornamented with decorative mosaic panels has been slightly damaged. Photos published by DGAM showed partial damage caused to the unique Islamic mosaic due to random mortar shelling. It is worth mentioning that the area where the 8th century AD mosque is located is rich in other Islamic (early and late) monuments and buildings, such as the Al Azm palace, Khan Asa’ad Basha, the Mausoleum of Saladin and the Museum of Calligraphy. Following recent information, this area has been subjected to various random mortar shellings which threatens its unique historic fabric and demonstrates to which extent the Syrian historic monuments are exposed to danger in the current conflict. Some of the photos of the damaged façade are available here (link in Arabic)  
  • In the region of Aleppo and Idlib, a number of sites located in the area of the archeological parks known as “Dead Cities” have been damaged. The damages include the reuse of the ancient stone in modern construction as well as the spread of unauthorized excavation and digging in the area. The archeological parks cover the area which stretches between Aleppo and Idlib in Northwestern Syria, and is listed on World Heritage List since 2011. Also, based on local sources, the DGAM has warned against the use of the churches of Saint Simeon and its religious complex as shelter combatant. Due to its use as a fire base, the church of Saint Simeon has suffered from various types of damages, especially to its façade, in addition to the spread of illicit digging in the site. The church datedes back to the 5th century AD and represents a unique testimony to the development of Christianity in Syria during the Classical periods. Some of the photos of the damage at the sites of the archeological park are available here (links in English)
  • With respect to restored objects and artifacts as well as the “black market” of Syrian antiquities, the DGAM has published photos of 18 glass vessels that date to the Roman Period and that probably derive from the illegal excavations.
    Some of the photos of the seized objects that were fabricated are available here (link in Arabic)
  •  Finally, the Syrian team working within DGAM and in charge of conservation and restoration of mosaics have conducted a series of analyses on some restored (after being stolen) pieces of mosaic which belong to the key site of Apamea. The analyses have shown that with respect to the artistic aspects, such as the depicted themes, as well as the technical aspects, the sized objects are probably to be considered as forged (link in Arabic)
  • Recently a high official at UNESCO has warned against the raise of black market activities in Syria, and the fact that projects to renovate Syrian museums have been put on hold due to the security conditions ( see the link)  :