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Satellite Imagery Shows Damage to Syria’s World Heritage Sites

Friday, September 19, 2014

(Images ©2014, DigitalGlobe/Analysis AAAS. Coordinates 36.19N, 37.16E)WASHINGTON, D.C.—An analysis of high-resolution satellite imagery by the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) shows that five of Syria’s six World Heritage sites have been severely damaged since 2011, when the civil war began. “Only one of Syria’s six World Heritage sites—the Ancient City of Damascus—appears to remain undamaged,” Susan Wolfinbarger, director of the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project at AAAS, told Science Daily. The buildings of Aleppo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, has suffered extensive damage. The Ancient City of Bosra, the Ancient Site of Palmyra, the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria, and the castles Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din have all been damaged by mortar impacts and military activity. “There is hope, and it lies with our Syrian colleagues because they are the stewards and caretakers of these sites, and they see the value in preserving and protecting them for future generations,” said Corine Wegener, cultural heritage preservation officer for the Smithsonian Institution. “What they need from their international colleagues is some help to do that—training, materials, and other support in the international arena for the notion that it is possible to mitigate and prevent damage to cultural heritage, even in the midst of conflicts.” To read more about Syria's rich archaeological heritage, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "Temple of the Storm God."

 

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