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The Loss of Syria’s Cultural Heritage

Thursday, February 06, 2014


NEW YORK, NEW YORK—Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO’s assistant director-general for culture, announced at a press conference that the European Union has donated 2.5 million euros to a program intended to fight looting and improve the available information about Syria’s endangered cultural heritage. During the continuing civil war, illegal digging has taken place at the sites of Mari, Elba, Palmyra, and Apamea. “All of them have been subject to this phenomena, some of them to an extent that is unimaginable. Apamea—it’s completely destroyed,” Bandarin told the Associated Press. In an effort to stem the flow of antiquities out of Syria, UNESCO has been training police and customs forces in neighboring countries to identify looted artifacts. “We certainly have intercepted a very, very small amount of what has been pillaged,” said Bandarin.