ASOR's Cultural Heritage Initiatives is an international, collaborative effort to respond to the destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and northern Iraq. We have assembled a team of scholars with professional connections to leading academic and cultural institutions in Syria, Iraq, the United States, Canada, England, France, Germany, Lebanon, and Jordan. Groups of concerned citizens in Syria and Iraq have been taking action, and our international team has formed alliances and partnerships with these groups. The following list includes our co-directors, co-investigators, consultants, and advisors. Most are serving as volunteers, and we are grateful for their service. We are also actively seeking more volunteers. Please contact us if you are willing to help.

Principal Investigators

Michael-#1_200x250Michael D. Danti: Academic Director
University of Pennsylvania Museum and ASOR,, 617-358-1397

Dr. Michael D. Danti, FSA (PHD, University of Pennsylvania 2000) has 25 years experience directing archaeological projects in the Middle East, including excavations and surveys in Syria, Iran, and Iraqi Kurdistan. From 1991–2010, his research focused on the Early Bronze Age site of Tell es-Sweyhat near Raqqa and Aleppo on the Euphrates River.

Andy-Vaughn_200x250Andrew G. Vaughn: Administrative Director, ASOR Executive Director
ASOR,, 617-353-6574

Dr. Vaughn has served as ASOR's Executive Director since 2007. His duties also include serving as the Administrative Director for ASOR's Cultural Heritage Initiatives. Prior to 2007, he was Associate Professor and department chair at Gustavus Adolphus College. He received the Ph.D. degree (magna cum laude) from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1996 in the area of Hebrew Bible.

Scott-Branting_200x250Scott Branting: Senior Cultural Heritage Advisor for ARCHES

Director for Geospatial Initiatives at ASOR and the Project Director for Heritage Mapping and Data Integration with the Cultural Heritage Initiatives.  Prior to this, Dr. Branting served for ten years as the Director of the Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes (CAMEL) at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Jesse-Casana_200x250Jesse Casana: Senior Cultural Heritage Advisor for Remote Sensing
Dartmouth College,

Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the Dartmouth College, and also serves as Chair of ASOR's Damascus Committee. He is a specialist in the settlement and environmental histories of the Near East as well as in archaeological remote sensing. Until the start of the current war, he directed archaeological excavations at the site of Tell Qarqur in western Syria.


Project Managers

LeeAnn-Gordon_200x250LeeAnn Barnes Gordon

Project Manager for Conservation and Heritage Preservation, she is responsible for implementing the Cultural Heritage Initiatives' preservation activities. Ms. Gordon works with various team members, advisors, and consultants to document the condition of Syrian cultural heritage and to develop plans for future in-country preservation needs. She is an archaeological conservator, and she has a BA in archaeology from the University of Minnesota and an MSc in art conservation from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation.

Allison CuneoAllison Cuneo

Project Manager for ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives, she is responsible for managing and providing logistical and research support. Ms. Cuneo is a doctoral candidate in Archaeology at Boston University who conducts research in Iraq. Her MA in Archaeological Heritage Management from Boston University focused on the protection of heritage during armed conflict. She has conducted archaeological fieldwork in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, England, Spain, Greece, and Israel.

Penacho 250x200Susan Penacho

Project Manager for ASOR CHI Geospatial Initiatives, she is responsible for satellite imagery analysis and the continuing growth of the heritage inventory. Dr. Penacho received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 2015, completing a dissertation on a spatial analysis of clay sealings within Nubian Fortresses of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom. She previously worked as the Associate Director of the Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes (CAMEL) at the Oriental Institute. As an archaeologist, she has worked in Egypt and Turkey focusing on 2D and 3D site mapping and aerial photography.



Amr Al-AzmAmr Al-Azm
Associate Professor, Shawnee State University,

Amr Al Azm was educated in the UK, reading Archaeology of Western Asiatics at the University College, London and graduated with a doctoral degree in1991. He was the Director of Scientific and Conservation Laboratories at the General Department of Antiquities and Museums (1999-2004) and taught at the University of Damascus until 2006. Currently he is an Associate Professor of Middle East History and Anthropology at Shawnee State University in Ohio and a keen follower and commentator on current events in Syria and the Middle East in general. Amr Al-Azm is a founder and board member on The Day After project (TDA) and currently manages the Heritage Protection Initiative (HPI) for cultural heritage protection at the TDA.

michelFortin_200x250Michel Fortin
University of Laval,

Received the PhD degree from the University of London (England) and has been teaching Near Eastern archaeology at Université Laval since 1979, where he is now department head. In addition to his excavations in Syria, specifically at Tell ‘Atij and Tell Gudeda in the Hasseke region (1986-1993) and at Tell ‘Acharneh in the Orontes Valley (1998-2010), Dr. Fortin has also published numerous works, including a well-illustrated exhibition catalogue on Syria title, Syria Land of Civilizations (1999). He was recently elected Fellow at the Royal Society of Canada.

Timothy WilliamsTimothy Harrison
University of Toronto and Director of the CRANE Project,

Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. He earned his PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Chicago in 1995, completing a dissertation on the Early Bronze Age in the Highlands of Central Jordan. He has directed excavations at the Bronze and Iron Age site of Tell Madaba, in Jordan, and currently is directing the Tayinat Archaeological Project on the Plain of Antioch in southeastern Turkey. In 2012, he launched the CRANE Project (Computational Research on the Ancient Near East), an international consortium of projects conducting research in the Orontes Watershed ( He served as President of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), between 2008 and 2013, and currently is Chair of the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto.

Michel al-MaqdissiMichel al-Maqdissi
The Louvre Museum,

Professor of Levantine Archaeology at the University Saint-Joseph (Lebanon) and University of Damascus (Syria). He received his MA and PhD in Near Eastern archaeology from the Sorbonne (University of Paris I). He is director of several archaeological missions in Syria: Tell Sianu, Mishirfeh-Qatna, Palmyra (pre-classical). He led the Service des fouilles et études archéologiques in the Direction Générale des Antiquités et des Musées of Syria (2000–2012) and realized several archaeological exhibitions. Currently, his work focuses on scientific publication of a summary of the archaeological work at the Phoenician site of Amrit in Syria. He has also been commissioned by the Louvre Museum (as chef de project) to work on the publication of archival material reported by R. du Mesnil du Buisson from the central region of Syria between 1924 and 1930 and also to study material recovered from Palmyra between 1965 and 1967. He founded an archaeological newspaper in Damascus (Studia Orontica) and a collection (Documents d'Archéologie Syrienne) to disseminate the latest scientific research in several languages (Arabic, French, and English).

Bijan RouhaniBijan Rouhani
International Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICORP),

Project Specialist in Risk Management and Built Heritage. Bijan received his PhD in 2010 in Conservation of Architectural Heritage from La Sapienza, the University of Rome, Italy. His research was on International Principles for the Protection of Cultural Heritage during Armed Conflict. He works as a conservation architect and cultural heritage consultant. His field of interest is reducing risks to cultural heritage sites, especially in times of armed conflict and natural disasters. He is Vice President of the ICOMOS International Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICORP) and a member of the Blue Shield.

Richard-Zettler_200x250Richard Zettler
University of Pennsylvania,

Received the MA and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago. He is current Professor and Department Chair in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania, and Associate Curator-in Charge, Near East Section, Penn Museum. Zettler worked at Nippur, Umm al-Hafriyat and Üç Tepe in Iraq and directed excavations at Tell es-Sweyhat in Syria from 1989-2007. He is currently Associate Director of the Rowanduz Archaeology Project in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. He has written and/or edited five books, as well as numerous articles.



Frank Braemer
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique,

Suzanne Davis
Kelsey Museum of Archaeology,

Andrew Moore
Archaeological Institute of America,

Gaetano Palumbo
World Monuments Fund,

Graham Philip
Durham University,

Nasser Rabbat
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, nasser@MIT.EDU

Advisory Board

Samir Abdulac
International Council on Monuments and Sites - International Committee on Historic Towns and Villages (ICOMOS-CIVVIH),

Zaki Aslan
International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM),

Karin Bartl
German Archaeological Institute Damascus (Amman),

Emma Cunliffe
Oxford University,

The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, California

Mohammad Rafique Mughal
Boston University,

Stephennie Mulder
The University of Texas at Austin,

Christopher Rollston
The George Washington University,

Helene Sader
American University of Beirut,

Donald Whitcomb
University of Chicago,

Research Staff

Danny Breegi
Research Assistant

Kyra Kaercher
Research Assistant

Jared Koller
Website and Database Developer

Rim Lababidi
Research Assistant

Anthony Lauricella
Geospatial Analyst

Marshall Schurtz
Research Assistant


Laila Abdel-Malek

David Elitzer

Olga Goussev-Sushinsky

Morgane Lirette

Cailee Mellen

Erin Van Gessel

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