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The War Against Culture: Protecting Syria’s Heritage

Posted on Aug 8, 2017 by in The OFI Blog |

There are many monuments and historical sites around the world that are named world heritage sites as a means of representing the interconnectedness of our world’s shared history. As such, protecting the collective past in areas of tension and war is a difficult, but important feat. Dr. Katharyn Hanson, a Smithsonian Institution (SI) fellow, has recently written about the efforts to preserve the Syrian people’s history and identity through heritage sites.

                                     Katharyn Hanson

Katharyn writes about the Baghdad Gate, a 10th-century monument in the southeast corner of Raqqa, Syria. Amidst the brutal control of the city by ISIS and their deliberate destruction of dozens of cultural sites, the Gate and large sections of its accompanying city walls still stand. The US force used in the area has been mindful of the site as well, minimizing the damage to the city walls, which Katharyn notes as a positive effort she hopes to see continue. Coalition forces have also been advised of other sites of importance in the area, with the help of SI consultation. Additionally, the SI has collaborated with other academic and professional bodies to publish a pocket booklet called “Guide to Raqqa Heritage” which will be distributed to liberating forces in the area.

You can read more about the intense and important work being done to preserve Syria’s heritage, articulated by Katharyn, here.