Friday, January 16, 2015

Syrian Heritage in Crisis

A panel discussion will be taking place this afternoon (Friday 16 January 2015) at the British Academy to discuss the situation in Syria and Iraq.

Join a panel of experts to discuss cultural heritage in Syria, raise awareness of its Syrian dimension, to consider it within a regional and international context, and to look for any measures that might be taken to reduce the damage being wrought.  
Cultural heritage has become a serious casualty of the ongoing civil war in Syria as widely seen in media reports describing damage to archaeological sites for both military and ideological reasons, the looting of antiquities to order to support groups like Daesh, and the rise of the illicit antiquities trade. Although less immediately tragic than the humanitarian disaster unfolding across the country, the destruction and loss of community and cultural property represents catastrophic damage that directly affects people and society, with long-term harm to culture, identity and economy. 
Responses have been limited, but include efforts by the archaeological community to help the Syrians look after their heritage, including appeals made to fund training in curation and conservation, as well as assistance in identifying and monitoring the problems. These address the supply side of the problem of the illicit antiquities trade, but in the context of ongoing civil war such measures can only be limited. Less attention has been paid to the demand side of the antiquities trade, but this is an area where international action may have a far greater long-term impact.
I am particularly looking forward to hearing Dr Sam Hardy articulate his informed position on the situation (and see his "Conflict Archaeology" blog).

The event is sponsored by the Council for Research in the Levant.

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