Excerpt from news.yahoo.comBy Laura Geggel, Staff Writer
|Satellite images show how much destruction has happened in Syria between December 2011 and July 2014. The Ministry of Justice building (red arrow) is damaged, as is the Khusriwiye Mosque (green arrow). |
Three years of heavy fighting have taken a toll on Syria's archaeological treasures. Five of the country's six World Heritage sites "exhibit significant damage," and some buildings are now "reduced to rubble," according to high-resolution satellite images examined by the nonprofit and nonpartisan American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
"Only one of Syria's six World Heritage sites — the ancient city of Damascus — appears to remain undamaged in satellite imagery since the onset of civil war in 2011," Susan Wolfinbarger, director of the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project at AAAS, said in a statement.
Damage to the other five sites is extensive, the AAAS said. These sites include the ancient city of Aleppo, the ancient city of Bosra, the ancient site of Palmyra, a site with two castles (Crac des Chevaliers and Qal'at Salah El-Din), and the ancient villages of northern Syria (Jebel Seman, Jebel Barisha, Jebel Al A'la, Jebel Wastani and Jebel Zawiye. The analysis showed widespread damage in Aleppo, one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in the world, which dates back to the second millennium B.C.
A before-and-after analysis from 2011 to 2014 indicates new damage to historic mosques, Koranic schools called madrasas, the Great Mosque of Aleppo, the Souq al-Madina, the Grand Serail of Aleppo, the Hammam Yalbougha an-Nasry, the Khusruwiye Mosque, the Carlton Citadel Hotel, the Khan Qurt Bey caravanserai and other historic buildings south and north of the citadel.
The Great Mosque has extensive damage. Satellite imagery showed destruction of the roof and a destroyed minaret, or tall spire, as well as two craters on the mosque's eastern wall. Researchers saw the heaviest damage south of the citadel, but the area to the north, which has buildings from the late Mamluk to Ottoman periods (13th to 19th centuries) also showed signs of destruction.
The other World Heritage sites have damage ranging from mortar impacts near an ancient Roman theater in Bosra to newly constructed military compounds on an archaeological site. New roads and mounds of earth are scattered through the Northern Roman Necropolis in Palmyra.
Palmyra sits in a desert just northeast of Damascus. Its ruins combine Greco-Roman art with Persian influences, and UNESCO said it "contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world."
The AAAS released the analysis yesterday (Sept. 18), a day before the Smithsonian Institution's meeting to honor the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property. Researchers plan to discuss the damage and intervention efforts in Syria at the meeting.
"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."