Bearing witness: Syria’s history and heritage are being wantonly looted and criminally destroyed. Pay attention sleeping world for Syria is also part of your history and inheritance

Syrian heritage, looted mosaics from Apamia

Syrian heritage, looted mosaics from Apamia

Beauty is passing away from the cradle of civilization

As the Assadi regime systematically erases Syria from the map of the world

Syria’s heritage is being despoiled and robbed by all, the Syrian army, the Shabiha, the armed fighters, the traffickers, the looters and the plunderers.  Soon the country will be robbed of all its glory, of its artifacts  sculptures, manuscripts, rare books, mosaics, the contents of the ransacked museums and anything that can be dismantled, packed and carried away, not to mention the illegal vandalization of its archaeological sites throughout the country. Syria’s antiquities are being smuggled out and surrendered to the middleman or the dealers for pittance. What will Syria be without its priceless heritage, its pride, its soul and glory?

Syrian heritage, stolen gilded Aramian God, circa 1000BC

The gilded statue of an Aramaian God which was stolen from a museum

circa 1000 BC

In addition to this, what breaks the heart is that the great historical monuments of Palmyra, Busra, Aleppo, the great castles and archaeological sites which cannot be looted any further are being systematically destroyed, bombed and vandalized by the Assadi army and sometimes in the crossfire between the two sides of the conflict. The core of the problem is that there are no moral impediments at play by all concerned.  The Assadi soldiers and Shabiha are but tools of destruction and annihilation and most of the rebels were brought up under the shadow of Assad and never learnt how to respect public property because they regarded it as belonging to them, the oppresses  and the enemy. They never learnt that the antiquities of Syria belonged to the people, to them and their children and that a huge part of the wealth of the country lies in this plundered history and Syria will be the poorer for their children if the pillaging goes on. They were never taught that their history was sacred and should be inviolate because all they had learnt was how to worship and idolize their leaders and the Baathi cult they upheld. The last forty years of Syria’s culture reflect the illiteracy and bankruptcy of insular political , security- orientated doctrines and attitudes imposed upon the the cognitively  impoverished lives and minds of the Syrians.  Many of the soldiers who are serving in the FSA had served in the Assadi army before and inherited the same ethical looseness and attitudes towards public property. Moreover, in their desperate need for arms, some of the rebels are trading arms for antiquities.  In addition, not a few of the starving homeless civilians and the defected soldiers are doing it because they need to eat and they are tempted by the smugglers to dig up what they can find and surrender their finds to them. It is a tragedy of huge grave proportions and I am not trying to moralize here.  I am just stating the facts.

Aleppo, the destruction of the Great Omayyad Mosque

Syria’s heritage is part of the inheritance of  humanity because it all started in Syria, the  first agricultures, the first settlements and the first cities. Some of the finds that have not been documented and researched will not only be lost to Syria but to the whole world. Like wolves and hyenas of the night swarm the traffickers in antiquities at the Syrian borders, ready to jump for the kill. They are part of  very sophisticated,  criminal networks specializing in archaeological excavations and trafficking worldwide.  Nothing is sacred to them and the abandoned archaeological sites in view of the fighting and the bombing have become their arenas of activities where they are causing great irresponsible wanton damage in their efforts to reach the berried treasures not shirking from even using the bulldozers and heavy machinery.

The destruction of Old Homs by bombardment and shelling, constructed image

The bombing of the Baal Temple in Palmyra by the Syrian Regime

The bombing of the Bel Temple in Palmyra by the Syrian Regime

*Palmyra : The Temple of Bel bombed مدينة تدمر : اثار الدمار الذي تعرض له معبد بل

The destruction by fire of the Medieval historic Madina Suq in Aleppo

The Museum of Maárat Al Numaan near Idlib is in grave danger . The presence of soldiers might invite bombing by the regime. Its collection of mosaics is the best in the Middle East.

Prehistoric caves are being used as shelters by the fleeing homeless people escaping the relentless bombardment and shelling by the Assadi army

إدلب – المدن الميتة في خطر: تنقيبات سرية وتخريب يطال المنطقة الأثرية في سرمدا في الكتلة الكلسية.

Idleb – Limestone massif in danger: clandestine excavations at the archaeological area of Sarmada. These are known to the world as the Dead cities dating back to Roman times

قلعة الحصن في خطر: آثار القصف على القلعة

Krak des Chevaliers ( the famous Crusader Castle)under threat: Effects of bombings on the citadel

دير الزور : اثار الدمار الذي تعرض له السوق المقبي*
*Deir Ez-zor : al-Souk Al-Moukebi after the bombardment.
أقـدم ســوق بـدير الـزور .. بني هذا السوق في العهد العثماني في العام 1864 م
وكان يعرف باسم سوق بغداد.

Hasakeh -Tell Halaf en danger : Installation d’armements lourds sur le tell archéologique Halaf/ site éponyme de la culture syro-mésopotamienne de Halaf (VIe mill.) et siège de l’ancienne Guzana, capitale de l’Etat araméen de Bit Bakhiani (iXe-VIIIe s. av. J.-C.).
Tel Halaf is in danger
الحسكة – تل حلف في خطر: تمركز للآليات العسكرية الثقيلة على تل .
حلف الأثري /دويلة غوزانا الآرامية القديمة.

Deraa – Da’el : dommages causés dans la zone archéologique
درعا – داعل آثار التخريب الواقع على البیوت القديمة في المدينة
Deraa –Da’el: damages to the archaeological area

قلعة المضيق في خطر: آثار القصف على القلعة ومحيطها

Qala’at al-Mudiq ( near Hama) under threat: Effects of bombings on the citadel. 

دمشق في خطر: آثار القصف على السوق القديم في حي الميدان التاريخي العريق

Damascus under Threat: Damage to the Ancient Souk in the historic area of Midan

حمص في خطر: حالة الاضرار الواقعة على الأحياء التاريخية في المدينة القديمة2 .

Homs under threat: State of historic quarters in the old town 2.

Homs – Umm Al-Zinar Church
كنيسة أم الزنار 30.6.2012

(Saint Mary Church of the Holy Belt (Arabic: كنيسة أم الزنار‎; Um az-Zinnar) is a historical Syriac Orthodox Church in Homs,Syria. The church is built over an underground church dating back to 50 AD. It is the seat of the Syriac Orthodoxarchbishopric. According to local tradition, the church contains the belt of Mary mother of Jesus) (Wikipedia)


I am hugely indebted for most of the  images in this post to the tireless painstaking toils and endeavors,  not to mention the brave efforts at documentation in war conditions, of the following site on Facebook:

©Le patrimoine archéologique syrien en danger الآثار السورية في خطر

I am also indebted to the admirable efforts and documentations of:

©Protect Syrian Archaeology حماية الآثار السورية

PS.  The Department of Antiquities and Museums in Damascus keeps underplaying and underemphasizing, or minimizing in some cases,  the terrible damage  inflicted on Syria’s antiquities so far.

©Alisar Iram


About alisariram

I am an artist, a writer and a researcher. I know Arabic and English . I am interested in music and art of every description. I like to describe myself as the embodiment of a harmonious marriage between two cultures which I value and treasure.
This entry was posted in Aleppo, Alisar's art, Alisar's notes and articles, civilians, Images, Looting and trafficking in antiquities, Mosaics, Syrian Archaeology and antiquities, Syrian Heritage and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to Bearing witness: Syria’s history and heritage are being wantonly looted and criminally destroyed. Pay attention sleeping world for Syria is also part of your history and inheritance

  1. Mark says:

    Oh God, this is just terrible. =/

  2. Thank-you for a wonderful post and for helping to bring this to the attention of the world. I can’t believe anyone would damage the Great Umayyad Mosque. All those places photographed should have special places in every ones heart. I have visited neighbouring lands but the war in Syria started months before I planned to visit. It seems there will be much less to see than what I had expected.

    • alisariram says:

      Thank you very much for your support. The destruction of Syria’s heritage has distressed me greatly and brought deep sadness to my life because I am an artist. I am trying my best to bring this to the attention of the world so that we might save what could be saved. I shall have a special post for Aleppo soon.

      • adriana says:

        me alegra que tengas la sensibilidad de comentarlo para que todos tomemos conciencia de lo que esta pasando , gracias por abrirnos los ojos a traves de esta denuncia.

  3. Emma Cunliffe says:

    That is a beautifully written post which really highlights the sadness of the situation. It is probably no help, but I understand most, of not all, of the collections at Ma’aret al-Nu’man museum have been moved now to safety.

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  5. Martijn says:

    Unfortunately, the regime is bombing these monuments, but only because rebels are using them as hideouts. It shows, both sides don’t care a sh.t about their heritage and should be held equally responsible for their destruction. But how can it stop? Sad, so sad. The victims? The common syrian people, who don’t want all this stupid fighting, neither from the regime, nor from the rebels.

    • alisariram says:

      The Syrian people want to live but they also want freedom and dignity.They have not chosen to fight but fighting was imposed upon them by a merciless brutal regime. Although I have not spared the rebels for sharing in the destruction of Syria’s heritage, the main responsibility ethically and historically lies with the regime.

  6. I couldn´t barely read what you write. I feel so sad with this kind of things. If you need a voice to spread the word, I´m here. Maybe through all the world we can do something about it.

    • alisariram says:

      I replied to you but it seems my reply went missing. Thank you so much for your concern and kind reaction to a crime against humanity being perpetrated under the eyes of the world. If you can spread the word you would have fulfilled the reason behind this blog: to bear witness.

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    • alisariram says:

      Thank you very much. I certainly work very hard on my posts specially those needing documentation. I divide my time between doing creative post and the more scholarly ones.

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