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Workshop on Raising Awareness about Syrian Cultural Heritage

The General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums (GDAM) has recently participated in a workshop in Jordan aiming to raise awareness about the cultural heritage in Syria and the danger of illicit trafficking of cultural properties.

The four-day event was organized in Amman by (UNESCO) in cooperation with international experts and the Swiss Government.

 Representatives of the Syrian border police, customs and the GDAM in addition to participants from the antiquities authorities of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, beside international experts in the field of the cultural heritage took part in the workshop.

The  GDAM General Director Maamoun Abdulkarim said in a press statement that ''the Syrian participation focuses on the deteriorated situation of Syrian antiquities since the beginning of the ongoing crisis in the country and on means of protecting them''.

He added the workshop reviewed the activities which have been carried out by UNESCO since the beginning of the crisis, methods of combating the illicit trafficking of the Syrian antiquities in addition to regional cooperation to protect cultural heritage.

The workshop also discussed the threats the Syrian archeological sites and cultural heritage are being exposed to and the plans to be drawn up to guarantee preserving the Syrian cultural heritage.

Rawaa Ghanam

Al-Arfi house:

 A new venue to disseminate culture

In the context of the efforts to transform houses of prominent Syrian figures into museums to disseminate culture, the Ministry of Culture has recently inaugurated the museum of Scholar Mohammad said al-Arfi, member of the Arabic Language Academy and a creative writer who left many books about Islam and the militant history of Arab world.  

 The several-room museum is equipped with all means to activate the cultural scene in Damascus and help in reviving earlier activities such as the story teller (al-Hakawati), the magic box, and the music hall.

“The Ministry’s plan to revive heritage and disseminate culture meets with the desire of Al-Arfi family to recall the memory of scholar saeed al-Arfi, and bring back his works to limelight, so as to learn from his values and teaching in bringing up the new generation, “said Minister of Culture Dr. Loubana Moushaweh, in an opening ceremony to the house.

The Minister noted the need to preserve Syria’s rich history, as a source of our pride to enhance national commitment, and a motivation for further creativity.

The Minister also noted the importance of preserving our heritage as enabling tools to join modernity, noting the continuous correlation between the past and the present.

 Khaled falhoot.

Venezuela Condemns Terrorists' Vandalism against Syria's Cultural Heritage

Expressing their support for Syria's steadfastness in the face of the ongoing crisis, a number of Venezuelan cultural commissions, organizations and figures have condemned the acts of vandalism perpetrated by armed terrorist groups against Syria's cultural heritage. They stressed that the cultural heritage of a country is part of peoples' identity and that protecting it is a humanitarian duty the social and cultural bodies as well as the international community should do.

In a recent statement handed over to the Culture Minister Lubana Mshaweh by the Venezuelan Ambassador in Damascus Imad Saab, the Venezuelan personalities denounced the acts of barbarism, destruction and looting committed by the foreign-backed terrorists and mercenaries in Syria against the country's museums, archeological sites, worshipping places and ancient markets.

The statement also criticized foreign intervention in Syria's internal affairs embodied in the funding, arming and sheltering of terrorist groups.

''The foreign intervention in Syria has caused the spreading of chaos in the country, the displacement of the Syrian families and the destruction of the Syrian cultural heritage'', the statement added.

It called for adopting necessary procedures to fix the damages inflicted upon museums and archeological sites which are considered as part of the cultural heritage of humanity.

The statement demanded the countries, which support the armed terrorist groups, to respect and abide by the international agreements which provide for protecting cultural properties during armed conflicts.

Minister Lubana Mshaweh and the Venezuelan ambassador also discussed means of expanding cultural cooperation between the two countries.

She highly appreciated Venezuela's honorable stand in support of Syria's firm policy to withstand the current crisis, and hailed the Venezuelan people's struggle to get freedom and preserve their dignity and sovereignty.

For his part, the Venezuelan Ambassador reiterated that the statement expresses Venezuela's government and people's solidarity with Syria in the confrontation of the extraordinary circumstances the country has been encountering.

Rawaa Ghanam

Salkhad castle

Salkhad Castle, locally known as Qalaat Salkhad, is situated on a small mountain in the town under the same name, south east of the city of Damascus, near the Jordan border.

Though the town itself already existed during biblical times, the first fortification on this site was probably built by the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mustansir around 1073.

In 1146 Salkhad Castle was sieged by the combined armies of Muin ad-Din Unur; Emperor of Damascus, and Nur ad-Din Mahmud; son of the famous Zengi, to crush a revolt.

The present ruins of Salkhad Castle date back to the first half of the 13th century when the Ayyubids built the castle to protect Damascus against the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In the second half of the 13th century however the castle was conquered by the Mamluks and in 1277 the castle was rebuilt by the Mamluk Sultan Baibars.

In the 1920's the south of Syria was a French Mandate. When the mainly people revolted against the French, they entrenched themselves in the old castle. This lead to an air raid during which the castle was bombarded and remained a ruin ever since.

The ruins of Salkhad Castle have been used for military purposes during several decades at the end of the 20th century and were therefore inaccessible. During the 1990's some restoration works were carried out.

At present the castle can be visited freely, although the remains of the castle above ground may be little, the mountain is riddled with subterranean rooms, vaults and passageways, things that make visiting this charming place is very enjoyable.

Khaled falhoot

"Memory of Homeland..Souriana" Exhibits Art Works Depicting Syria's Rich Cultural Heritage

DAMASCUS, (ST) - Culture Minister Dr. Loubana Moushaweh on Sunday opened "Memory of Homeland…Souriana" Exhibition at the Kafar Souseh Cultural Center in Damascus. More than a hundred oil paintings and photos in addition to a big number of historical documents are being displayed in the event which lasts till February 12th.

Held in cooperation with "Ladies of Syria" group, the exhibition shows Syria's deep history and civilization as a rich source of culture which has been able for ages to keep Syria's fingerprints on all scientific, cultural, economic and technical domains.

In a statement to SANA, Minister Moushaweh said "the exhibition refreshes the memories of its visitors and makes them realize the deep history, the original civilization and the great homeland they belong to."

She hailed the efforts exerted by the "Ladies of Syria" group, which comprises a number of Syrian women who have been keen to collect and shed light on some of the Syrian heritage works starting from their love to their homeland.

Lebanese freedom fighter, Samar al-Haj, who visited the exhibition, said the event depicts Syria as the land of civilizations and religions, stressing that some parties are targeting Syria's cultural heritage despite the fact that their countries don't even have any kind of cultural heritage.

She added "culture in Syria doesn't stop despite the tragic events Syria has been witnessing over the past two years."

Nille Miro, member of the Ladies of Syria group said what Syria has been facing is huger than a war, so we intended in the second part of exhibition to recall Syria's civilization, glorious history and points of strength.

For his part, artist Mahmoud Salem, member of the Friends of the Camera Club, said 50 photography works reflecting Syria's rich history and civilization are being displayed in the exhibition to stress Syria's beauty and ability to surpass crises.

"Syria is stronger than all crises and thanks to its people's efforts Syria will overcome all the obstacles hindering its progress.


H. Mustafa