Syria Aleppo Before Civil War




Aleppo has sustained terrible damage during the current war in Syria. The scud missiles, intensive indiscriminate bombardment by the Syrian army of Assad including bombing with barrel bombs has almost annihilated the Old city and vast residential areas. The shelling exchanged between the rebels and the Syrian army has added to to the damage, especially damage to heritage. I have tried to document some of the cultural damage in my posts on Aleppo. See indexes (on top).

Syria Aleppo Before Civil War


Alisar Iram

Posted in Aleppo, Alisar Iram: articles and notes, Cradle of Civilization, Destruction of cities and habitats, Monuments and landmarks before the war, Syria's cultural heritage, Syrian Archaeology and antiquities, Syrian army, Syrian people | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elegy for the children of Syria and Gaza: If I call to the children

If I stretch my soul between the disintegrating
Earth and the pearly heaven
If I stretch it gently and embroider it
With red roses and white roses
With blue birds and opal butterflies
With meadows the colour of passionate green 
If I do if I do
Then call to the children 
Under the debris
Underneath the rubble
Further down below the mangled concrete and steel
If I call to them
To rise whole and healed
To rise to rise
Then guide them to the carpet of flowers
Stretching high high
Into the tall tall
Gates of a city of light
Blue here and golden there
Silvery above and rippling ultramarine below
Shining to the left
And gleaming to the right
If I do If I do
So that ,listening, I hear childish laughter
ringing in the city of light
from twinkling star to a glimmering pool
From an amber moon to a shimmering tower
If I do if I do
Will they forgive me?

©Alisar Iram


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The war children of Syria: our reluctant heroes

I am calling these children whom you are going to see below our unknown reluctant heroes for the ordeals they have been through surpass the imagination. They have undergone the ordeals of fire, hunger, terrible injuries, amputated limbs, the loss of parents and families, homelessness, sleeping rough on the streets, having to survive on picking rubbish not to mention  having to to be subjected to exploitation and abuse and having to do hard menial dangerous jobs to survive. On top of all of that many  were exposed to torture, imprisonment, interrogation, rape and sexual abuse. The  pictures below are of children who have survived but for how long if we do not try to help them?

 I have tried this time to present children who have survived physically, pointing out that this is only part of their story. In the past I concentrated a lot on dead children and terribly mutilated children but this time I thought we have to divert out attention a little to those who have survived. They deserve to live. My method has always been to link all posts together so that the viewer can get the whole picture. With the present posting, I wish to convey that in my honest opinion these children, many of then orphaned, have become the children of the world and the world should assume responsibility for them. those surviving children who make half the population of the refugee camps inside and outside Syria are terribly vulnerable in view of their few years, untold sufferings and in view of their inability to defend or fend for themselves, specially those who have sustained severe disabilities.I have run out of words. Please make these children your cause. They are the responsibility of all of us. 

About the images

My main purpose in showing these images is not to shock, but to enlist help. There are thousands of injured,hurt or psychologically impaired war children in the camps, on the streets, in make shift hospitals or primitive clinics, living on bare nothing or undergoing untold hardships. My friend Akkad Al-Jabal whom I met on Facebook has compiled most of these images. He has been painstakingly collecting documenting and archiving thousands of images of the war children of Syria in albums which he lovingly update constantly. To his images I added some I have compiled myself.

 Chilren injured or have lost limbs

War children

Syrian war children





Suffering, hunger, menial  jobs, with weapons

ScreenHunter_5377 Jul. 11 23.19

Refugee Camps

ScreenHunter_5378 Jul. 11 23.58

 Courage and Defiance


ScreenHunter_5385 Jul. 12 11.30 ScreenHunter_5386 Jul. 12 11.32

©Alisar Iram

Please see

Bearing witness:The children of Syria, the new born of Syria, the babies of Syria, the toddlers of Syria, I present them to you

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The Rise of ISIS: extracts from articles and comments


I know it is not conventional to write articles in the form of diaries or chronicles, but I have been keeping chronicles since the start of the Syrian revolution. Unlike formal articles, “Meditation on ISIS (Da’ish)” shows the progression of an idea or event, the stages it goes through until it materializes and asserts itself, fulfilling or disappointing expectations.I was among the first to write about the religious form of colonization and occupation. I called the incursion of the foreign Islamists into Syria religious occupation which aimed at establishing settlements and communities for the fighter immigrants swarming in Syrian lands. I was triggered by the example of Da’ish and their muhajiroun who have come to fight and settle down in Syria, marry Syrian women and have children. Now the idea has been taken up by others who like me realize the grave danger that the colonial policies of ISIS present in Syria.In February 2014, in an article published in TheWhy and The Republic I wrote:

“What is happening in Syria is stranger than fiction, an epic genocidal violence released by the regime which has severed the life forces of the nation, arresting its heart or leaving it in a comatose state, which gave the lurking monsters of barbarism the chance to unveil themselves and claim God and religion among their first victims. This is not restricted to the barbarians of Sunnism, wearing the mantle of al-Qaeda, but also to the barbarians of Shiism

There is another kind of occupation or colonialism not usually listed or singled out. I would like to call it religious colonization. For what are ISIS and, to a certain extent the Nusra Front, doing but bringing foreigners to fight in Syria in the name of International Jihadism? The new settlers seem very anxious to start families by acquiring wives and raising children… It is all this jargon, all this ideological violence emanating from the dogma of reduction and the attempts at diminishing cultural and religious thought and heritage that infuriate and causes indignation, for the violence that imprisons the mind, inspiring people to commit atrocities is also lethal, whether practised by Assad’s supporters of the Qaeda devotees… The world is marching towards unravelling the mysteries of the universe, while al-Qaeda and affiliates (ISIS) are marching light years backward in the direction of the void in an attempt to cancel civilization, history, cognition and cultural heritage. If they think that we are going to allow them to destroy our civilization and the priceless treasures of Islamic thought and knowledge, its legacy of philosophy and cognition, we would like to warn them that sooner or later we shall throw them into the dustbin of history where they belong. They are but false prophets.”


























































The extracts are drawn fro comments posted to Facebook

Posted in Alisar Iram: articles and notes, Da'ish, ISIS, Islamic civilization, Islamists, Raqqa, Syria, Syrian people, Syrian regime, Syrian Revolution, therepublic, Thewhy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Covenant

The Rainbow


Let this rainbow be a covenant between man and man:

That death will have no dominion

That children will not be butchered

That their limbs will not be torn from their bodies

 And be mangled

That young girls will not be violated and violated again

That corpses will not pile on top of each other

 Until they hide the face of heaven

That houses and buildings will not be bombed into rubble

That cities and towns will not be razed to the ground

That monuments and antiquities will not be smashed into nothingness

That civilizations will not be fed to fires and the wormholes of doom.


Let this Rainbow be a covenant between man and man:

That life not death will have dominion

That freedom not slavery

Will be the destiny of the enslaved

That justice not oppression will prevail

That the peoples walking in darkness

 Will be permitted to seek the light

That the peoples in the grip of annihilation

 Will be saved and cherished

That they will be nurtured by compassion until

They raise their voices to sing their anthem to joy.


Let this rainbow be a covenant between man and man:

That the weapons and instruments of destruction

Will be silenced

So that we can hear the song of the earth

So that we can breathe the sacredness of the air

So that we can see the sun sets and the sun rises

So that we can touch every living thing.


Let this rainbow be a covenant between man and man:

That peace will heal

That peace will seam what was rent

That peace will redeem

That peace will build

That peace will close the fissure in time

That peace will have dominion.

Alisar Iram April 2013

©Alisar Iram

Let this rainbow be a covenant between man and man

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The rise of ISIS: The birth of Islamic colonialism

I was the first or among the first to write about the religious form of colonization and occupation. I called the incursion of the foreign Islamists into Syria religious occupation which aimed at establishing settlements. I was triggered by the example of Da’ish and their muhajiroun who have come to fight and settle down in Syria, marry Syrian women and have children. Now the idea has been taken up by others who like me realize the grave danger that the colonial policies of ISIS present in Syria.

In February 2014, in an article published by The Republic: ( I wrote:

What is happening in Syria is stranger than fiction, an epic genocidal violence released by the regime which has severed the life forces of the nation, arresting its heart or leaving it in a comatose state, which gave the lurking monsters of barbarism the chance to unveil themselves and claim God and religion among their first victims. This is not restricted to the barbarians of Sunnism, wearing the mantle of al-Qaeda, but also to the barbarians of Shiism….

There is another kind of occupation or colonialism not usually listed or singled out. I would like to call it religious colonization. For what are ISIS and, to a certain extent the Nusra Front, doing but bringing foreigners to fight in Syria in the name of International Jihadism?  The new settlers seem very anxious to start families by acquiring wives and raising children… It is all this jargon, all this ideological violence emanating from the dogma of reduction and the attempts at diminishing cultural and religious thought and heritage that infuriate and causes indignation, for the violence that imprisons the mind, inspiring people to commit atrocities is also lethal, whether practised by Assad’s supporters of the Qaeda devotees…   The world is marching towards unravelling the mysteries of the universe, while al-Qaeda and affiliates (ISIS) are marching light years backward in the direction of the void in an attempt to cancel civilization, history, cognition and cultural heritage. If they think that we are going to allow them to destroy our civilization and the priceless treasures of Islamic thought and knowledge, its legacy of philosophy and cognition, we would like to warn them that sooner or later we shall throw them into the dustbin of history where they belong. They are but false prophets. 

May, 2014

The Salifis are not Islam and Islam is not the Slafis ; Islam is not  the Jihadists, the Muslim Brotherhood and certainly not ISIS or Da’ísh. I think that we all agree that Islam is the tree from which all these minor branches, shoots or weeds grow or think they grow. Islam is a religion. The Salfis and the rest like Nusra and ISIS are interpreters of this religion. Why do they want to rule? The moment they become the rulers they will impose their own interpretations of Islam, right or wrong, on all others, including the non Muslims. They will use these interpretations as the source and framework to the constitution and as the authority by which the law is applied. They will rule by the Shariaa according to their interpretation, tailored to protect their interests. In this day and age politicizing any religion is a recipe for disaster, division and the eruption of violence. Why can’t the Islamists accept a democratic civil government which will grant equal rights to all? Are they afraid to lose their opportunity to be the new tyrants and wreak revenge on all? In addition, which groups of Islamists will decide the flow of events but the armed, despotic, ignorant, blood thirsty and power hungry groups? Do we think that the meek, spiritual or peace loving groups will prevail? No, says the terrible events on the ground. Qaeda is winning and ISIS is the face of the loss of Human Rights, civil liberties and freedom to come. 

May 22 

   Remember I was concentrating on the Islamists whoever they are who wish to rule, who wish to rule according to their interpretations of Islam in order to create an Islamic state built on Shariaa law according to them. All the experiments so far have been disastrous and a source of imposition, tyrannical interpretations and brutal enforcement. An Islamic state based on Shariaa is an anachronism, obsolete. This Revolution started with calling for freedom, justice, dignity and democracy and so it shall be. Muslims, Christians and all others will have equal rights in it.   You are defending those who are doing nothing but excluding all others. Why don’t you preach to them about freedom of choice and belief instead of trying to preach to those who are leading the struggle for freedom of choice and the freedom of belief and opinion? Make no mistake, those who are leading this struggle will defend the right of the Islamists or the Salfis to choose (by peace and not by violence), but not to impose their choices on others and terrorize them. 

 June 13

The plot thickens. A mass human exodus towards the unknown is in the making. What will happen to the people as the men in arms, regular and irregular, rush to take part in the carnage?  More towns to be destroyed, more cities to turn into rubble slowly? It is like re-knotting the knot which is already knotted beyond unravelling? The enemies are friends. The friends are enemies and the friends of the enemies and the friends are enemies and friends at the same time. You unravel it. I am of limited intelligence. Meanwhile the world is playing football.

June 14

Where to go? But where to go? The Syrian people are not wanted. The Syrian Shabiha are, the Syrian and foreign Islamists are, Above all the Syrian Bashar is welcome. ISIS is the stuff of the new vogue in warfare, so it is also admitted, but the Syrian people are an embarrassment and a nuisance, they are simply superfluous therefore out with them.

18 June

Is ISIS in Iraq more dangerous than ISIS in Syria? Is Da’ish in Syria to be tolerated because the Syrians are born to die? Or is it important for all concerned that the Syrian Revolution should be squashed in favour of Assad because he is the ideal president for Syria and the choice of the world? What is happening? If ISIS is attacked in Iraq alone they will be taking refuge in Syria or they will mass within the Syrian borders. How much more can Syria and the Syrians endure? The war machines that fight in the name of religion, 19 June  What is so wrong about the brutal Islamic warring entities of today created by violence and savagery in answer to savagery and violence is that they are anomalies, aberrations because they have no civilian and no civilizing content. They are oases of accumulated darkness. It is the absence of the humane and humanizing content, the absence of a vision of a better world, a more equitable and just world that makes ISIS, for instance, the horror that it is. It is and its counterparts are no more than military movements based on grudges and resentments without proposals for how to create a future free of hatred, grudges and the desire for revenge. They are the kind of organization that by war drag the world to more wars, solving nothing and offering nothing but destruction. They stand against civilization and outside civilization no matter how you choose to define civilization. For theirs is a fatal interpretation of religion and history based on exclusion, dismissal, elimination and prohibition.

 26 June

Perhaps we should not forget that Islam is about 700 years younger than Christianity. It will be there one day. I do not find much consolation in this, but it is worth thinking that Islam has not come of age yet, that it is in the turbulent state of struggling to acquire social maturity in its relations to itself and the globe. I have the feeling that what we are witnessing now is the final violent stage of Islam’s struggle with itself, trying to attain a new identity more compatible with the space age. In the future Islam might totally discard the idea of winning by force and violence and will instead retreat to the soul seeking to be a source of enlightenment and cognition. This way it will discover the way of peace.

Violence, 27 June

Where there is violence there is no humanity, no civil life or organization, no education or learning, no decency or ethical frames of reference, no civilization.There is only violence and the terror of violence. Violence has been depopulating Syria and is depopulating vast areas of Iraq now. Violence negates life and the violence of the Islamists in no different. In many cases, it is even worse because it aims at controlling the mind and the spirit completely by a distorted tailored view of the divine. They sabotage the concept of God and use it against people desperate for the help of the divine.  28 june

ISIS and Alboukama,  a town near the Syrian-Iraqi borders

n Alboukamal the local community and the FSA are fighting a brave steadfast battle against ISIS and their allies of the Nusra. Yet their valiant fight against overwhelming odds goes on almost unreported. If ISIS is to be defeated in Syria , this will be accomplished not by the flirtatious air-raids of Assad but by the Syrians in their villages, towns and cities doing so with the help of the FSA and the Syrian rebels loyal to the Revolution. What is happening in Alboukamal is of the utmost importance because of its position near the Iraqi borders and the heartland of ISIS.

ISIS, 28 June

We have come to this: groups of armed delinquents, the wild young men of the wild East raise a black flag sticking the name of Allah on it, while calling for all the armed young Muslims all over the world to join them, declare the birth of the latest model of Caliphate, the caliphate of outlaws, thieves, hooligans and murderers. Not bad, not at all. Robin Hood style caliphate except that the spoils go to the coffers of ISIS and not to the poor. Islam If Islam has a bad name, we have given it this bad name from here to eternity. No use laying the blame on the West. If we lay it where it belongs, we might yet make a start.

29 June

Why can’t the individual be a Muslim without filling the world around him with his spitting image? Be a Muslim, a good true Muslim, pray, fast and be devout. But let him be a Christian and let that person be a Hindu. Let her uncover her hair and let that man tell you that he is an atheist or an agnostic without you feeling the duty to punish him. Let them be, as you wish yourself to also be. Nobody should argue about your right to believe and obey your God, but you have to give them the same rights. The curse of religions have always been their messianic feverish belief that they have a message demanding of them that they should convert the whole world. Christianity is not, or was not,  different from Islam in this. No religion can be an answer to every man’s needs everywhere in the world, though it might think so. There are many people who are good, just, ethical and devoted to humanity without being religious at all. Be a Muslim but let me not be one if so I choose.

June 30

We are the Barbarians, we are the Mongols, and we are the wild hordes this time. We have sacked Homs, Aleppo, Raqqa, Damascus, Mosel and hundreds of towns and villages. We are the destroyers of libraries, mosques, churches, monuments, farmlands, crops and animals. We are the killers of women children and the flower of the Syrian youths. We are our own plague, our own sacrilege, and our own exterminators. We have failed as a people, as a nation, as fighters, as rulers, as intelligentsia, as educators, as custodians of knowledge, as human beings. I am not preaching nihilism or attempting utter demoralization. I am stating the truth.The truth is a good point to start again from.

An apologist,  July 1

I am going to appoint myself for a while the protagonist and the apologist for the Arab Islamic civilization. What prompts me to do this is the onslaught on Islam, Islamic learning, arts and civilization by the false Caliph, the pretender Baghdadi and his hordes of ISIS, not to motion the rest of the armies of Islam. I am not a devout Muslim or even a Muslim in the current definition, but the distortion of Islam which is after all at the centre of the genius of Arab Islamic civilization insults the scholar in me and it is an affront to my sense of justice and truth. Islam is not only a religion but part of our history. We have to reclaim it, we have to wrench it from the marauding hordes of the likes of ISIS and return it to the fold of humanity. Islam would have remained a desert religion were it not for the driving force it generated as the path towards discovery, cognition and describing the world and praising it. When Islam sought learning and knowledge it inherited the cognitive disciplines of the world it came to inhabit. That was the best of Islam But now in the name of Islam all the abhorrent crimes against humanity are being committed. It has become the terror of the world, civilized and uncivilized. If we do not save the past from ruin, we shall not guarantee saving the present and the future from ruin too. No false caliphates, nor pretender caliphs

 July 1,  ISIS defined 

If you ask me to describe ISIS, I would say it is the organized Mafia of an Islam without God and without a Prophet. And if you ask me to define the newly declared  Caliphate of Baghdadi, I would say it is a syndicate of sanctioned disciplined crime chosen to represent the Islamic mafia of ISIS. 

June 2

What is so beneficial about the new caliphate, if we can use the term in such a context, is that it is dragging the concept into the dustbin of history, barring any possible return. It has made the new caliph the laughing stock of the Arab world. The danger does not come from the Muslims in the Arab countries accepting it, but from the adventurers, the simple fools, the wayward youths in revolt against their systems, societies and parents, the half illiterate Muslims all over the world who do not know one word of Arabic, the young Western Muslims in search of an identity or trying to invent an identity, the anarchists, the saboteurs, the Muslim mafias, the suicide bombers, the opportunists and the global Jihadists accepting and fuelling it. The new cowboy style caliph has sent the summons to them all over the world to come to him in order to depopulate the earths of Syria and Iraq so that they might inherit them.

ISIS, The Perfect Killing machine, July 2

At last the perfect killing machine has been invented, that is if you do not count the army of Assad. The Syrians need not freedom, not justice, not food, not homes, not a country, but more killing, more devastation, more dispersion. All was needed for perfection to prevail was the last touch in the figure of the masked ruthless new Caliph. Never the less, the masked Caliph is going to be used at best as a further justification of their conviction in the West: “it has nothing to do with us”, and at worst to prove yet again for the million of times that the ME can produce no better men or no better leasers because it specializes in futility and self destruction, democracy being too precious for them.   Please, wipe the smirk off your faces because he is your (our) man more than you will ever let yourselves think lest you are thrown into the grip of the most terrible of nightmares. The West was the good earth or the laboratory which allowed him to be cloned from and grafted with the worst that was in Western politics combined with that of the worst the Islamists and their megalomaniac aspirations can invent. The godfathers of Ibn Laden are the same godfathers of Al Baghdadi, Pretender Caliph of Islam. He is Obama’s creature. Not as far fetched as you might think. Woe for the Syrians ! Al-Baghdadi, the newest form of barrel bombs is ready to be tested against what has remained of them.

ISIS, June 3

The British young man from Cardiff fighting for ISIS in Syria apparently said according to a program the BBC is broadcasting now that he left Britain in order to be in the land of Izza (dignity) !!!!!The land of Izza where the Syrians are humiliated and butchered? He intends to stay where he is in Syria hoping to live there (in Syria which the Muslim Syrians are being driven out of by ISIS itself). He continued to say that he would like to bring his family to where he was. He is proud to be in the Caliphate State. How on earth an Islamic military state on usurped land has come to mean Caliphate according to the definition of ISIS and sold to young duped Muslims all over the world is beyond me to understand. Perhaps I should choose to join ISIS in order to understand. Syria has become the New World of disaffected radicalized indoctrinated young Muslims from all over the world. ISIS has become Columbus leading them to the promised land, more correctly the pied piper luring them to destruction

 Young men will seek idealism, June 3

It is not by saying it has nothing to do with us, referring to the Syrian war, that the British government and public are going to win the fight against terrorism and prevent their boys from sneaking out to join the fight. Perhaps the absence of idealism, compassion and clear values from the public discourse and the predominance of pragmatism, self interest, blatant egoism and detachment are not what young men, especially those who feel they have to do something regarding the fate of other human beings in the world, would wish to hear. Perhaps, the absence of idealism at home would drive them to look for it somewhere else and in so doing fall into the traps of those who manufacture it in order to fatten their dubious causes.

ISIS leadership

ISIS leadership

How smart is Da’ish ( name given to ISIS in Syria) June 4

We should not make too much of the super intelligence and strategies of Da’ish. Like all criminals and murderers they are cunning, unscrupulous, ambitious, scheming and single minded, but as for being smart. They are not. Declaring the caliphate is their end and the end of all caliphates. They have made a laughing stock of Islam, its history and dignity. That the concept of the caliphate has come to to\ such a grievance end as to be wielded by bank robbers, antiquity traffickers and cold blooded murderers is a measure of their great abilities at alienating all that is decent in humanity. No, they have not scored a PR victory nor are their skills at abusing and misusing the social media to mobilize support from disaffected youths and adventurers or naive- would- be Jihadists to be admired and marvelled at. Assad and his Shabiha are also skilful manipulators of the social media. ISIS is a calamity born of a calamity. They are part of the chain of events that started with tolerating Assad against his people.  We warned and warned about the vacuum that was created inconsequence of the savage terrible onslaught by Assad on the Syrian people and their towns and cities. We pointed out that Assad has managed to annihilate the flower of the Syrian youths, the best of their activist, the would- be-leaders culturally and morally in addition to the bulk of  the viable civil institutions , the coordination committees and  community efforts at organization and maintaining the law, but to no avail.  Sacrificing that phase of the Syrian Revolution paved the way to the institutionalization of  the violence of Assad and the emergence of the so–called Caliphate of Da’ish. But who is going to reap the bitter harvest of all these horrors?  The Syrian people and Syria. ©Alisar Iram    

Posted in Alisar Iram: articles and notes, Caliphate, Da'ish, Foreign fighters, ISIS, Syria, Syrian people, Syrian regime, Syrian Revolution, The Islamic State | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Videos two years old but still relevant

The first video was made in 2012. The images of the children are dated and have become history now. video is dedicated to the children of Syria. They have been subjected to the horrors of war on an apocalyptic scale. They were bombed, murdered, raped, starved and maimed. Those who have survived are scarred emotionally and psychologically. This is my protest, my rage against the horrors the children of Syria were made to face.


The second video also dates back to 2012 and  is about the Syrian holocaust, the death of so many children, men and women and the destruction of the Syrian cities and towns. It is a plea to remember man woman and child, and also stone, history and civilization. I used a long poem of mine of the same title and some of my artwork which was inspired by the Syrian Revolution to convey a message against the inhumanity of man to man as exemplified by the Syrian regime.



Posted in Alisar Iram's art, Alisar Iram's poems, Annihilation, Children of Syria, Destruction, Destruction of cities and habitats, Images, Syria, Syrian Children, Syrian regime, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ladies of Palmyra by Alisar Iram

Site of Palmyra as defined by UNESCO:

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis An oasis in the Syrian desert, north-east of Damascus, Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world. From the 1st to the 2nd century, the art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, married Graeco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences. First mentioned in the archives of Mari in the 2nd millennium BC, Palmyra was an established caravan oasis when it came under Roman control in the mid-first century AD as part of the Roman province of Syria.  It grew steadily in importance as a city on the trade route linking Persia, India and China with the Roman Empire, marking the crossroads of several civilisations in the ancient world. A grand, colonnaded street of 1100 metres’ length forms the monumental axis of the city, which together with secondary colonnaded cross streets links the major public monuments including the Temple of Ba’al, Diocletian’s Camp, the Agora, Theatre, other temples and urban quarters. Architectural ornament including unique examples of funerary sculpture unites the forms of Greco-roman art with indigenous elements and Persian influences in a strongly original style. Outside the city’s walls are remains of a Roman aqueduct and immense necropolises. Discovery of the ruined city by travellers in the 17th and 18th centuries resulted in its subsequent influence on architectural styles. Criterion (i): The splendour of the ruins of Palmyra, rising out of the Syrian desert north-east of Damascus is testament to the unique aesthetic achievement of a wealthy caravan oasis intermittently under the rule of Rome from the Ier to the 3rd century AD. The grand colonnade constitutes a characteristic example of a type of structure which represents a major artistic development. Criterion (ii): Recognition of the splendour of the ruins of Palmyra by travellers in the 17th and 18th centuries contributed greatly to the subsequent revival of classical architectural styles and urban design in the West. Criterion (iv): The grand monumental colonnaded street, open in the centre with covered side passages, and subsidiary cross streets of similar design together with the major public buildings, form an outstanding illustration of architecture and urban layout at the peak of Rome’s expansion in and engagement with the East. The great temple of Ba’al is considered one of the most important religious buildings of the 1st century AD in the East and of unique design. The carved sculptural treatment of the monumental archway through which the city is approached from the great temple is an outstanding example of Palmyrene art. The large scale funerary monuments outside the city walls in the area known as the Valley of the Tombs display distinctive decoration and construction methods. Integrity (2009) All the key attributes, including the main colonnaded street, major public buildings and funerary monuments, lie within the boundary. The tower tombs and the citadel are vulnerable to minor earthquakes and lack of conservation. Since the time of inscription, the population of the adjacent town has increased and is encroaching on the archaeological zone. Although traffic has increased, the main road that passed through the site has been diverted. Increased tourism has brought pressure for facilities within the property. Authenticity (2009) The key attributes display well their grandeur and splendour. However the setting is vulnerable to the encroachment of the adjacent town that could impact adversely on the way the ruins are perceived as an oasis closely related to their desert surroundings. Protection and management requirements (2009) The site was designated a national monument and is now protected by the National Antiquities law 222 as amended in 1999. A buffer zone was established in 2007 but has not yet been submitted to the World Heritage Committee. The regional strategic action plan currently under preparation is expected to provide guidelines to expand and redefine the site as a cultural landscape, with respect to the transitional zones around the archaeological site, the oasis and the city. There is an on-going need for a conservation and restoration plan to be developed that addresses fully the complex issues associated with this extensive multiple site and  will allow for coordinated management, clear priorities and a cultural tourism strategy and address the issues of expansion of the nearby town.

Long Description

Palmyra exerted a decisive influence on the evolution of neoclassical architecture and modern urbanization.The city offers the consummate example of an ancient urbanized complex, for the most part protected, with its large public monuments such as the Agora, the Theatre and the temples. Alongside these, the inhabited quarters are preserved, and there are immense cemeteries outside the fortified enceinte. Palmyran art, for which the great museums of the world now vie, unites the forms of Graeco-Roman art with indigenous elements and Iranian influences in a strongly original style. As the crossroads of several civilizations, it is here that unique creations came into existence, notably in the domain of funerary sculpture. Since prehistory there has been human settlement in this area, from the Palaeolithic and Neolithic eras. Palmyra is a fertile oasis located close to a mountainous passage, in the heart of the Syrian desert. It developed into a staging post between Al-Shaam and Iraq, the Arab Gulf and Persia and the Mediterranean. It was to the exploitation of this rich caravan trade that the city owed its prosperity and importance. Palmyra established itself as the most important market for Eastern products and the leading caravan city of the Roman Empire, taking over a role that had previously been performed by Petra. This began when the emperor Trajan in AD 105-6 incorporated it into the new province of Arabia, following the annexation of Nabatea, a client state that controlled much of the trade with the East. During the 3rd century AD, with the accession of the Sassanid dynasty to the Parthian throne and the resulting resumption of hostilities against the Romans, Palmyra also assumed an important strategic and military role: the nobleman Septimius Odaenathus obtained support and recognition from Rome, as an ally in their struggle against the Sassanids. When the Emperor Valerian was defeated and captured by the King of the Parthians, Odaenathus took a stand in defence of the empire and Valerian’s son, Gallienus, winning a series of military victories. He was succeeded on the throne by his younger son from his second marriage, Wahballath, under the regency of his mother Zenobia, who invited to her court as her son’s preceptor Cassius Longinus. She conquered all of Syria and extended her dominion as far as Egypt and Anatolia. Palmyra, which was spared at first, made an attempt at rebellion but was quickly sacked and plundered, and the city walls were destroyed. It was the beginning of the city’s decline, but the myth of the queen of Palmyra, Zenobia, was not destroyed. She was the incarnation of the finest male and female virtues, which were to outlive the collapse of the ancient world. Palmyra was a wealthy caravan centre from 44 BC to AD 272, alternately independent from and under the rule of Rome, which during the 2nd and 3rd centuries was richly embellished. The grand colonnade, 1,100 m in length, which links the temple of Bel with the so-called Camp of Diocletian, is the monumental axis of the city, with its open central street flanked by covered lateral passages. The principle of the colonnaded portico is to be found in the secondary axes, which run perpendicular to the grand colonnade, and certain of these date back to the 2nd century. The colonnade is not perspectival in its progress: the two areas are not aligned with each other, and so it takes a sharp turn before straightening out again at the three-arched Triumphal arch dating from the Severan period, only to undergo a further adjustment to align itself with the so-called Tetrapyle, two pairs of floral columns symmetrically arranged on tall monumental bases. The temple proper, built in AD 32, stood at the centre of a sacred precinct which was later bounded by a broad porticoed peribolos with a double order of columns on the interior, punctuated on the exterior by elegant Corinthian pilaster strips. Outside the inhabited town, along the four main access roads to the city, stood four cemeteries, which feature three types of tomb. The oldest and most distinctive group is represented by the funerary towers, tall multi-storey sandstone buildings belonging to the richest families. On the fronts of those that survive, foremost among them the Tower of Elahbel, there is an arch with sarcophagus halfway up, which in ancient times supported a reclining statue. Corridors and rooms were subdivided by vertical bays of loculi, closed by slabs of stone carved with the image of the deceased and painted in lively colours. Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC

The art of Palmyra was predominantly funereal, but there were also reliefs and sculptures depicting gods, goddess and royalty. It was unique because it amalgamated Roman, Greek, Persian, Arab Palmyrene and Nabatean traditions., thus creating a  local style of very elegant,creative and distinctive individuality.  It combined stylized features with attention to detail and semi naturalistic effects.It was not as static as Egyptian art and not as vigorous and wordy as Roman art. It bridged the gap between the spiritual  and the naturalistic.
Art of Palmyra by Alisar Iram

Art of Palmyra by Alisar Iram

Art of Palmyra by Alisar Iram

Art of Palmyra by Alisar Iram

Below, I have created some glass sculptures influence by Palmyrene art.  Making a glass sculpture, I usually began with clay, forming the shape.That was followed by making a plaster and flint mould around the clay template, then gouging the clay out in order to reveal its impression stamped in the plaster. The last process was to place lumps of coloured  crystal glass in the mould and hope for the best!  My experience with painting allowed me to control the colours even though they were going to become a pool of molten glass in the kiln. It remained a mystery to my fiends how I was able to control the molten glass. After firing which took a considerable time at the workshop where I worked, the mould was left to cool down slowly. After extraction, the pieces were cleaned and washed vigorously, then polished, but this is another story !
Art of Palmyra by Alisar Iram

Art of Palmyra, Priestesses,  by Alisar Iram

Art of Palmyra by Alisar Iram

Art of Palmyra by Alisar Iram

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Funereal Sculptures Confiscated in Palmyra and an Exhibition calling for the protection of Syria’s cultural heritge


Splendour and Drama Exhibition

Splendour and Drama Exhibition. An example of the art of Palmyra

Archeological Sculptures confiscated in Palmyra
مصادرة مجموعة قطع أثرية في تدمر
On 12/06/2014, the Directorate of Antiquities in Palmyra had received from the concerned authorities in Palmyra, ten funerary reliefs dating back to the second and third centuries. .The confiscated artifacts are  sculpted portraits (funerary sculpture) made of hard lime stone.
In the collection confiscated, there are  three female figures wearing Palmyrene traditional clothes, three funerary reliefs presenting  men figures, two figures of Plmyrene  priests wearing the  hats for Priests and lastly a scene in relief representing a funerary feast.The sculptures are probably stolen from the archaeological site of Palmyra by means of illegal excavations, Therefore, the Antiquity Department of Palmyra is keeping the artifacts in order to document them.
تسلمت مديرية آثار تدمر بتاريخ 12/6/2014 عشرة تماثيل نصفية تعود إلى القرنين الثاني والثالث الميلاديين، كانت قد صادرتها الجهات الأمنية المختصة في تدمر.والقطع المستردة مصنوعة من الحجر الكلسي القاسي تمثل لوحات جنائزية نحت عليها تماثيل نصفية، وتتألف من: ثلاثة قطع نحت عليها تماثيل نصفية لسيدات تدمريات يلبسن الرداء التدمري التقليدي، أربعة تماثيل نصفية لرجال تدمريين، وقطعتين جنائزيتن لكاهنين تدمريين بالإضافة إلى لوحة تمثل مشهداً لوليمة جنائزية.ويرجّح
أن تكون المنحوتات قد استخرجت عبر حفريات غير مشروعة في الموقع الأثري، وقد قامت مديرية آثار تدمر بحفظ القطع لديها لاستكمال توثيقها
. (Directorate General of Museums and Antiquities) in Damascus

 The cultural heritage of Syria 
I am very proud of the sites and pages springing up on the social media specially Facebook and on the web ,which are now covering the cultural heritage of Syria. Archaeologists young and old, observers and activists outside Syria, in virtual reality and on the ground inside Syria, in addition to scholars and researchers, are documenting, recording, watching, archiving and fighting in order to save what can be saved of the Syrian cultural heritage. The Directorate General of Museums and Antiquities after a period of low keyed activities in the field of exerting the required efforts to protect the cultural heritage of Syria, has moved into an interval of heightened and commendable activities, rising up to the task of doing its duty towards Syria’s cultural heritage. The International efforts too have entered a new phase after a period of paralysis and almost indifference. Great efforts are being exerted now to deal with or stop the grave dangers of illegal trafficking in antiquities. For as long as the looters and the traffickers are confident about finding Byers and global markets, illegal excavations and vandalization of the archaeological sites will continue, threatening even the sites where the archaeologists have not started excavating yet.
I would like here to pay special tribute to the Revolution citizen journalists who, when nobody was documenting and filming, risked their lives to video and record the damages inflicted on Syria’s cultural heritage. Alisar

Syrian cultural heritage a victim of war in Rome exhibition

(ANSAmed) – ROME, JUNE 19 – An exhibition aiming to show how the conflict in Syria is taking a huge toll on the country’s archeological and historical-artistic heritage opened in the Italian capital on Thursday.

At the exhibition of Syrian Antiquities in Rome

Stolen art pieces confiscated in Palmyra [ARCHIVE MATERIAL 20140310 ]

Stolen art pieces confiscated in Palmyra [ARCHIVE MATERIAL 20140310 ]


Pictures from the exhibition Syria The  Splendour and the Drama at Palazzo Venezia 

Mostra: Siria Splendore e Dramma معرض: سورية الألق والمأساة Exhibition: Syria Splendor and Drama

The exhibition ‘Syria, Splendour and Drama’ at Palazzo Venezia focuses on this aspect of the conflict after over three years of fighting. ”The campaign for the protection of Syria’s cultural heritage runs against the grain,” said senator and former culture minister Francesco Rutelli, who is one of the supporters of the exhibition through his association Priorità Cultura.

”We are all concerned about the Syrian population. When people are killed, archaeological and cultural heritage become less of a priority. But this is not a valid reason to ignore the disaster of the destruction of some of the most important cultural heritage in the world. That country was the cradle of civilization: emperors, popes, Apollodorus of Damascus – they all came from there. What is happening is beyond repair.” ”After WWII,” added Paolo Matthie, director of the Italian archaeological mission in Syria, ”we thought that something similar to what happened in Dresden and Montecassino (where bombing razed an ancient abbey) would never happen again. UNESCO is doing its part by getting Syria’s neighbors involved. For example, a ‘red list’ of the works that might be smuggled out has been distributed. Two lorries filled with stolen cultural artifacts have already been given back by Lebanon and one by Turkey.” But more needs to be done, said Rutelli.

Splendour and Drama Exhibition

Splendour and Drama Exhibition

Splendour and Drama Exhibition

Splendour and Drama Exhibition

Splendour and Drama Exhibition

Splendour and Drama Exhibition

Splendour and Drama Exhibition

Splendour and Drama Exhibition

Splendour and Drama Exhibition

Splendour and Drama Exhibition

SThe Splendour and the Tragedy

The Splendour and the Tragedy


ScreenHunter_5106 Jun. 20 18.37

Syrian social media pages and websites dedicated to the archaeology of Syria and the protection of its cultural heritage

See also the article on Syrian cultural heritage being a casualty of the war at The Chronicle of Higher Education


Emergency Red List of Syrian Antiquities at Risk is launched in New York

 Sep 30, 2013

On Wednesday, 25 September, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova joined the President of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), Dr. Hans-Martin Hinz, and United States Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Ms Anne Richard, to launch an Emergency Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects at Risk.

The event was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and also featured remarks from the Museum’s Director, Mr Thomas Campbell, as well as the President of the World Monuments Fund, Ms Bonnie Burnham.

Since 2000, in close partnership with UNESCO, ICOM has published 12 Red Lists for cultural objects at risk from across the globe.

The ICOM Red Lists facilitate the work of police, customs officials and all other professionals concerned with the protection of cultural property worldwide by helping them identify the categories of objects that are particularly vulnerable to illegal purchase, transaction and export. The Syrian Red List contains objects covering the most important periods of Syrian history: Prehistory and Ancient history, Islamic era and Middle Ages as well as Ottoman period.

Voicing her profound shock and distress at the loss of so many lives in Syria since the beginning of the conflict, Irina Bokova recalled the tragic and irreversible destruction of Syria’s unique heritage, from Aleppo to the world Heritage site of the Crac des Chevaliers.

“At UNESCO, we believe there is no choice to make between saving lives and saving cultural heritage. Protecting heritage is inseparable from protecting populations, because heritage enshrines people’s identities. Heritage gives people strength and confidence to look to the future — it is a force for social cohesion and recovery. This is why protection of heritage must be an integral part of all humanitarian efforts” Irina Bokova stated.

Irina Bokova expressed a special thanks to the United States Department of State for its financial support, which enabled the development of this Emergency Red List. She also paid tribute to the US steadfast commitment in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property, particularly in the framework of UNESCO’s 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, and she expressed her hope that the United States of America will continue to stay fully engaged with UNESCO.

“Syria’s irreplaceable heritage can only be protected through a coordinated international response,” the Director-General emphasized. Highlighting UNESCO’s actions in this regard – including the organized technical meetings and trainings as well as the endorsed action plan aimed at preventing further losses and repairing damage to Syrian cultural heritage – Irina Bokova called for active cooperation from Syria’s neighbours, as well as from its police and customs partners, to stiffen efforts to fight against illicit trafficking.


Alisar Iram


Posted in Alisar's notes and aerticles, Directorate General of Syrian Museums and Antiquities, Illegal excavations, Palmyra, Syria, Syria's cultural heritage, Syrian Heritage, Trafficking in antiquities, Vandalization, War damage to heritage | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Further damage to Syria’s cultural heritage: Illegal excavations at Ibla and more International efforts to safeguard Syria’s Heritage

Damage to the site of Ibla in Syria (Tell Mardikh, near Idlib) caused by illegal excavations and vandalization of the site carried out by locals, fighters and agents of organized trafficking in antiquities. The article on the subject and images were published by the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities. It should be noted that most if not all the sites in the open air whether under the control of the government or the rebels have sustained, in one way or another, damage  by areal bombardment, shelling, looting, theft and vandalism.

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The Ancient Kingdom of Ibla is in danger

**Ibla in danger: more damage, illegal excavations and vandalization of the site Posted on 

Constructed image: Ibla by Alisar Iram

Constructed image: Ibla by Alisar Iram

بالصور: الأضرار في موقع إيبلا الأثري في ادلب
15/06/2014 – عدد القراءات : 260


تتابع دائرة آثار ادلب الإطلاع على المواقع الأثرية لتقييم الأضرار والتعديات عليها، وقد أظهرت الصور التي التُقِطت مؤخراً لموقع إيبلا الأثري آُثار أعمال التنقيب السرية التي تمت في الفترة السابقة من حفر متباعدة بعدة أحجام وصل بعضها إلى أساسات الجدران، كما تم العثور على الآليات الثقيلة التي استُخدمت في عملية الحفر وآثار بعض الصخور والأحجار الأثرية التي كُسرت بفعل دخول الآليات الثقيلة إلى الموقع الأثري. 
وكانت دائرة آثار ادلب قد أحاطت المديرية العامة للآثار والمتاحف علماً بأن أعمال التنقيب عن الآثار والتخريب قد توقفت في موقع إبيلا خلال شهر أيار وبأن التل لم يشهد دخول مجموعات تنقيب منظمة باستثناء دخول بعض الأفراد الذين يقومون بالتنقيب ضمن الحفر القديمة التي عملت بها البعثة سابقاً، كما أن الحفريات التي تهدف إلى إنشاء معسكرات أو بناء مستودعات قد توقفت أيضاً في الموقع وعند السور الخارجي، ولكن بالمقابل ظهرت بعض التعديات التي تمثلت بإنشاء محطة لتكرير خام النفط على بعد 400م الى الجهة الغربية من التل .

In the context of the grave danger and sizable destruction of the Syrian cultural heritage and antiquities the UNESCO, belatedly in my opinion yet as some people remarked that better late than nothing, has decided to create an observatory in Beirut to Monitor Syrian heritage . I have listed below the most recent conferences and activities in the field of trying to save what might be saved.

-UNESCO to create an Observatory for the Safeguarding of Syria’s Cultural Heritage


-60th anniversary of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict


– 9th ICAANE Basel, June 9-13, 2014 Welcome to the Homepage of the 9th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE), which will take place in Basel (Switzerland) from June 9-13, 2014. The Congress is organized by the University of Basel, as a co-operation of the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Science, and the Faculty of Theology.


-An exhibition of Syria’s antiquities in Venice

► Archaeology in Syria ◄ NETWORK www.ainsyria.netExhibition: Syria Splendor and Drama  معرض: سورية الألق والمأساة  Mostra: Siria Splendore e Dramma ..
Alisar Iram
Posted in Alisar Iram: articles and notes, Destruction, Ibla, Illegal excavations, Syria, Syria's cultural heritage, Syrian Archaeology and antiquities, UNESCO, Vandalization | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment