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Collapse and Rebirth of Cultural Heritage

The Case of Syria and Iraq


Edited By Lorenzo Kamel

Cultural heritage and illicit trafficking in the Middle East are two key topics of our time.  The  book  sheds  light  on  both  aspects,  and  identifies  the  need  to  democratize  cultural heritage, by giving greater control to local communities. It also investigates the link between local hotbeds of conflict and violence in countries such as Syria and Iraq,  as  well  as  war  economics,  transnational  criminal  networks  and  the  politics  of  deliberate destruction and theft of cultural heritage. Finally, the chapters analyze the impact  of  non-violent  and  violent  non-state  actors,  fragile  states,  forced  migration,  environmental  degradation,  as  well  as  how  local  and  international  institutions  have  reacted to the dramatic events which the region and its inhabitants have experienced in recent years
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Chapter 2: The Reconstruction and Recovery of Syrian Cultural Heritage: The Case of the Old City of Aleppo (Francesco Bandarin)


Francesco Bandarin

Chapter 2: The Reconstruction and Recovery of Syrian Cultural Heritage: The Case of the Old City of Aleppo

Eight years of conflict have severely disrupted the fabric of Syrian society and its economy and have created a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions. According to the United Nations (UN), an estimated 11.7 million people needed humanitarian assistance at the end of 2018, with about 6.2 million still internally displaced, and over 5 million refugees residing in other countries.1

All the major cities of the country have suffered devastating damage: from Damascus (albeit not in its historic centre), to Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Raqqa and Deir er-Zor, the urban landscape is dominated by the ruins of housing structures, public and private buildings, monuments, mosques, churches and infrastructure. Many other medium-size and small settlements have been heavily damaged and have lost all or part of their population (REACH and UNITAR 2019).

All the rich heritage sites of Syria, and in particular its World Heritage sites, have suffered massive damage, including Palmyra, where the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) demolished the major ancient temples of Bel and Baalshamin with explosives; the Crac des Chevaliers, one of the most important citadels of the Crusades era; the Dead Cities of northern Syria, an important site for religious life during the Byzantine period; Bosra, the ancient capital of the Roman province of Arabia; the monument areas of Aleppo; and, to a lesser extent, the historic centre...

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