ٍHeritage of Syria Between War and Plunder
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The Heritage of Syria between war and plunder
By Ahmad Mohammad Khair Ali

All of those who have visited Syria before the war discovered a tourist country where every street has a history and a fragnant of heritage.
But unfortunately, the recent war has become an attractive element for smugglers of monuments and traders through two outlets; Turkey and Lebanon, but much less quantities through Lebanon.
The value of monuments smuggled from Syria is worth millions dollars. These monuments vary from things belong to prehistoric times till the twentieth century, as the hands of vandal abusers reached all archaeological hills that may contain artifacts. For in stance, the area of ancient Aphamea which is registered on the world Heritage list of UNESCO Since 1999 has been exposed to random excavating processes and organized ones.
As a result, some mosaics and statues among other things have been looted. And militias also looted Tal Ajajah in Al-Hasakah in which scientific missions had excavated in the eighties of the twentieth century.
Now, what is happening to the heritage of Syria is removing the past in order not to have a documented, organized and registered history for this country. And the danger reached the mosque of Khaled bin Al-walid and his tomb in the city of Homs. Besides, abundant tears will be shed, for years to come after the end of the war as a result of grieving over Aleppo; the most famous city of heritage in the world.
Among Aleppo's monuments that have been destroyed was Carlton's Hotel that has been built in the year 1983 in front of citadel of Aleppo. This hotel had been turned into rubble and has become one of the historical instinct scenes, and the minaret of Al-Mahmandar mosque built in the thirteenth century AD fell. But the big disaster is represented in the destruction of 50 percent of the old houses of Aleppo numbering six thousand houses. And the gravity of these acts lies in destroying the identity of the city as well as in the difficulty of restoring the manpower that can restore this heritage through it's inherited professional experiences.
Moreover, There are also ancient traditional markets of Aleppo that had been mentioned in many historical sources and which are considered the oldest in the world, dating back to the Hellinistic era.
Unfortunately, large parts of these markets have been destroyed. Also the nave of Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo has been destroyed in November, 2012, beside the minaret of the same mosque in April, 2013, amid mutual accusations of responsibility for it.
The disaster of Umayyed Mosque in Aleppo is an evidence and a symbol that can infer to destruction that befell the Syrian Architectural heritage. And some people were aware enough and good enough to transfer the platform of the mosque to a safe place.
It is note worthy that this mosque was built to match the original Omayyad mosque in Damascus had been technically destructed by some people during the Abbasid caliphate who demolished it's mosaic and marble and passed it to the mosque of Anbar. It seems that this mosque is doomed to fall victim to political conflicts always.
Furtheremore, when Nike phorosphokas, king of Byzantium, invaded Aleppo in 351 AH (962 AD), he destroyed the mosque after slaughtering people and stealing all wealth that he could reach. After that, Sayfuldawlah Al-Hamadany rebuilt what has been destroyed and restored the mosque. And the year 564 AH (1169 AD), witnessed the burning of the mosque as well as the neighboring bazars during an internal sedition that shook up the city. Then, Sultan Nouruddin Mahmoud Zanki rebuilt it and increased it's capacity.
Then, when Hulagu invaded Aleppo, he burnt the eastern side of the mosque. And the mosque had been burnt also when Saheb Sis invaded the city in 679 AH (1280 AD). Then the Mamluk ruler of Aleppo, Aqrasankar Jawakendar, started rebuilding it, and the construction had been completed in the month of Rajab 684 AH (1285 AD) during the era of the Mamluk Sultan, Mansour Qalawun.
This mosque Occupied a prominent status for being a place of all kinds of studies and composing and teaching scientific books in various fields of science. And that's why the Mamluk Sultans introduced a service called: "Looking after the Great Mosque."
Finally, The danger that targeted the mosque of Aleppo, hit more severly the mosque of khaled bin-Alwalid and his tomb in Homs. And if there are still guiding features and landmarks when embarking on the restoration of the heritage of Aleppo, the mosque of Homs became rubble.

Therefore, the international duty towards Syria, necessitates criminalizing dealing with any Syrian monument, moving or trading for ten years, whether or not this dealing is legitimate, to prevent trafficking and to stop rewarding those who plunder the heritage of Syria and destroy it.





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