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ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives is a cooperative agreement between ASOR and the U.S. Department of State that is designed to document, protect, and preserve the cultural heritage of war-torn Syria and northern Iraq. Hundreds of significant heritage sites have been damaged since fighting began in 2011. Although the destruction of cultural property represents only part of the humanitarian crisis, these harmful actions threaten our common world heritage and the cultural diversity of the people in Syria and northern Iraq. We have an ethical obligation to respond, and our project is part of an international effort to work with Syrians to protect their heritage and cultural identity.

ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives implements cultural property protection by:
     1. Documenting damage
     2. Promoting global awareness
     3. Planning emergency and post-war responses

1. Documenting Damage

  • Collecting information from news and social media sources
  • Communicating with heritage specialists, networks of volunteers, and other organizations in Syria and northern Iraq
  • Analyzing satellite imagery to monitor, document, and verify heritage damage
  • Synthesizing data generated from the above activities to track the evolving cultural heritage situation in Syria
  • Producing a comprehensive inventory of heritage sites and damage that integrates all of the above

2. Promoting Global Awareness

  • Producing weekly reports that provide timely updates on the status of heritage damage and threats in Syria
  • Providing periodic reports that synthesize trends, patterns, and needs within the overall heritage situation
  • Sharing our findings and conclusions in public symposia, international conferences, and colloquia
  • Communicating with the public through English and Arabic-language social media and news sources
  • Coordinating with other organizations that are working to safeguard Syrian heritage

3. Planning Emergency and Post-war Responses

  • Assessing the major preservation issues affecting cultural heritage
  • Designing protocols for rapid documentation of damage and preservation needs that can be implemented in the future
  • Developing proposals for future large-scale preservation projects
  • Providing resources for high-impact mitigation projects
  • Identifying human resource priorities to strengthen future cultural heritage management capacity for Syria

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