Wednesday 11 July 2012

Syria's cultural heritage in peril

The British Association of Near Eastern Archaeology has launched a petition seeking protection for Syria's cultural heritage.

This morning I have signed it in my own right and on behalf of BISI. I hope you too can sign it, support it and promote it through any contacts or avenues available to you.

The petition reads:

Save Syria's Cultural Heritage

The worsening situation in Syria places thousands of archaeological sites in immediate danger of current and future looting. A full discussion of the sites affected can be found here: Cunliffe, Emma. 2012, Damage to the Soul: Syria's Cultural Heritage in Conflict. 16 May 2012. Global Heritage Fund.

The British Association of Near Eastern Archaeology (BANEA) and other interested parties call on the British Government, UNESCO and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) to protest to all parties to the conflict and petition for:

  1. The removal of armed encampments, troops and weaponry from archaeological sites,
  2. protection of archaeological sites and museums from looting,
  3. recovery of stolen artefacts and the prosecution of the thieves and those who benefit from the thefts.

Updates and information can be found at

I know all too well, from BISI/BSAI's experience over the last nine years, how hard it is to keep cultural heritage on the political agenda during conflict, and to persuade those in authority that it is not an irrelevant distraction but central to the future economic and social well-being of the country. I do wish everyone involved, in Syria and worldwide, the strength, safety and resources to keep advocating effectively, and hope--with everyone--for a swift resolution of the conflict so they will not have to do so for long.

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