Campaign to Support Syrian Cultural Heritage by GFFE

DAMASCUS, (ST) - The Global Finance Fund of Edifices (GFFE) in New York listed three Syrian archaeological sites including the city of Aleppo, Al -Hosn Citadel an Al -Madiq Citadel. The General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums nominated these sites to be included in the list 'the spring of 2013'.

This step, according to a statement of the Directorate, to encourage financiers of projects related to cultural heritage around the world to support and finance the rehabilitation of these sites and repair damaged ones.

As part of the GFFE's efforts to contribute to the protection of the Syrian archaeological heritage, the Organization launched a campaign to collect five thousand signature in a letter of support addressed to the General Director of Antiquities and Museums, Dr. Maumoun Abdul Karim, succeeded, just two days after its launch,  to collect 4 thousand and 740 signatures of people interested in the Syrian antiquities and showed their desire to do what they can to prevent further damage and to assist in the rehabilitation efforts.

The text of the letter, addressed to Dr. Abdul Karim, says : "In war, human life is the ultimate goal but when the conflict ends, the cultural heritage plays an important role in helping to rebuild the lives of people that crashed as a result of these terrible events at home. We recognize your efforts and your colleagues to protect sites. We applaud the work of heritage experts who risk their safety to keep these sites under special circumstances, so we join all parts of the world and we stand with the people of Syria in recognition of the importance of their cultural heritage to Syria and the future of the world.

Sh. Kh.


Al -Hasakah Artifacts … Promising Tourist Industry


HASAKAH,(ST) - Since the mid-nineteenth century, foreign archaeological missions have given great importance to the eastern area of Syria and all hope to have in the detection of archaeological treasures and finds that this area abounds dating back to the civilizations of the ancient world.

Al -Hasakah governorate embraces more than a thousand different archaeological hills according to researchers, who assert that what is hidden under these hills is greater which makes the area a unique place of its kind in the world in terms of the quality of the buried archaeological finds.

About the archaeological importance of the governorate, the director of Antiquities Bureau, Engineer Hussein Yousef, pointed out that early attention of scientists and researchers in the area dates back to the middle of the nineteenth century and still continuing until present day which underlines the importance of this region in the map of world archaeological sites through the discoveries of the important achievements of missions which confirmed that this region is one of the most important archaeological areas in the world, especially in the  periods of the ancient Near East such as Orok and Helf eras.

 In addition to the national missions that worked in the archaeological sites and hills, foreign missions of various countries in the world worked in the hills of Mabtouh, al –Sha'ir, al –Hasakah, Shgher Bazaar, Irbid, Helf, Al-Fkheiriya, Brak, Hamdi, Berri, Khazneh, Taban, and Mohammed Diab Hill.

The governorate has a promising tourist industry that needs more efforts of all concerned bodies in order to establish a modern infrastructure for the industry, noting that one of the most important tourist monuments is al -Hasakah Museum," eng.Yousef said. 

The area of the museum is estimated at about 10,500 square meters spread over three floors and a basement and includes a hall for displaying, a conference room, a library, and a department of archaeological research.

 For his part, Chairman of the Cultural and Social Council of al –Hasakah city, Abdulrahman al –Sayed, said that the council had  prepared a study for the restoration of al Mahshoush waterwheel located in the city center on the left bank of the River Khabour which was built in the early twentieth century to irrigate fields and orchards that existed on both sides of the river. 

Due to this importance Mr. al -Sayed called for the rehabilitation of the archaeological sites and hills in the city and ensure services to attract tourists especially in Tel Gueirran and Budeiri in addition to Tel al -Hasakah in which an ancient cathedral was discovered dating back to the first century.

Syria, Home of Oldest Codified Peace Agreement in Human History

The Syrians were the first to call for peace, friendship and fraternity in the history of humanity. Since old ages, the Syrian people sought to lay the foundations and principles of attaining peace in Syria as well as in the neighboring countries and kingdoms.

According to researchers and archeological experts, the Syrians are the owners of the oldest codified peace agreement in the world. This agreement bans attacking and killing others and calls for peace.

Dr. Mahmoud al-Sayyed, Deputy Director of Laboratories at the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums says that the oldest codified peace agreement was discovered in Tel Mardiekh of Ebla Kingdom northwestern Syria. The agreement was codified in local Ebla cuneiform figures on a pottery plate that was found in the archive room of the royal palace of Ebla Kingdom. The plate dates back to the 24th century BC.

According to al-Sayyed, the text is currently kept in Idleb Museum to tell about the oldest international peace accord signed between the kingdom of Ebla and the kingdom of (Abersal), which is according to researches, located between Ebla and Mari Kingdoms.

According to al-Sayyed, the text provides for the oldest political and commercial agreements which were written down in cuneiform figures and which preserved the rights of people and punish the guilty.

He said the Kingdom of Ebla had signed many international diplomatic and trade agreements with its neighbors. Most remarkable of which was that signed between the King of Ebla and the King of Assyria with the aim of organizing political, trade and diplomatic ties between the two kingdoms. In addition, there was a temporary peace agreement signed between the King of Ebla and the King of Mari, which was older than the peace agreement signed between the Pharaoh of Egypt and the King of Hittites after the end of Kadesh Battle.

The expert indicates that four peace agreements were discovered in the palace of the king of Mari "Zimrilim" in the archeological site of Tel al-Hariri in the era between  1775-1761 B.C. Most important of which were those signed with the King of Babel, Hammurabi, and with the Kingdom of Eshnunna in the archeological site of the presently known as Tell Asmar.

Al-Sayyed affirms that these agreements indicate how mature the concept of peace and the idea of sophisticated peaceful dialogue were in Syria since old ages.

Moreover, the researcher said, the Syrian land was the site of great battles in the old East history and that ended in an everlasting peace. Most important of which was the battle of Kadesh in 1274 BC and which was considered as one of the best old East battles in terms of documentation. He pointed out that the battle was between the Huttite Empire and the Egyptians in the surroundings of Kadesh city which is currently named as the archeological site of Tell Mando in the south east of Syria near the Lebanese borders 25km to the south of Homs.

He clarified that one of the most important reason behind the battle was to dominate Syria which formed the link between the countries and Kingdoms of the Mesopotamia and the countries and kingdoms of the Mediterranean coast, and because of Qadesh's strategic trade position on the Orontes.

According to given data and to the developments of events, the battle ended with the victory of the Huttites. The researcher said that the final peace agreement between the Huttites and the Egyptians within the framework of an everlasting treaty was signed in 1259 BC between the Pharaoh of Egypt Ramses II and the King of the Huttites Hatusili III. A copy of this treaty's articles was written down on the walls of Ramses II temple and Amoun temple in al-Karnak in Egypt. Another copy was written down on a plate of roasted pottery in Akkadian cuneiform and was found in Hattusha, the capital of the Huttites.

H. Mustafa   

Tourism Ministry: Cooperation with Civil Society Organizations Stressed

 Damascus, (SANA) - Ministry  of Tourism recently underlined the need to highlight the rich national heritage and interest in highlighting the crafts and traditional handicrafts which Syria is famous for through tourist festivals and events to be held during the next two months.

During a meeting held recently with managers of tourism in the governorates and representatives of the Syria Trust for Development, the participants discussed the need for the advancement of tourism and to overcome the conditions imposed by the crisis through giving attention to festivals and tourism events as constituting messages to the abroad and reflect the reality of what is happening in Syria.

The tourism sector in Syria will be at the forefront of the sectors that will rise again and prove its presence on the ground and the ministry is ready to cooperate with Syria Trust for Development and invest some tourist sites in an effective manner and yield good economic support and crafts, the minister said.

The Minister of Tourism stressed the importance of training and qualification of personnel working in the tourism sector and the trend towards automation of all documents pertaining to the work of the Ministry of Tourism in order to save them from damage and loss, cooperation with associations and civil society organizations and the private sector in the promotion of tourism products and marketing.

Directors of tourism bureaus  in the governorates reviewed the reality of tourism in each governorate and plans taken to boost tourism in each governorate and proposed programs for festivals and tourist events to be held in the near future.

For her part, Director of Partnerships and Administrative Support in the Syria Trust for Development, eng. Itab al –Ta’qi, pointed out that the Syria Trust seeks to build strategic partnerships with government sectors in all areas and take advantage of databases and existing expertise on both sides, noting to the willingness of the secretariat to support the professions and endangered crafts and revive them again.

Sh. Kh.





Maalula is known as one of three places where Western Aramaic is still spoken, the other two arein the nearby villages JubbAdin and Bakh'a .

Maalula is a predominantly Christian village with a population of about 2,000 people. It is the home of two ancient Christian monasteries: Mar Sarkis and Mar Taqla. Both Christian and Muslim pilgrims come to Maalula seeking blessings and sightseeing.

Maalula means "the entrance" in Aramaic, referring to its strategic location at the entrance to a rocky gorge. Maalula perches on the slopes of the Kalamun Mountains at an altitude of 1,500 meters, overlooking a vast green carpet of fig trees, flowering damsons, grapevines and poplar trees. In addition to its important monasteries, the village is an attraction in itself: visitors invariably experience the unique feeling of an amalgamation of the living history with modern times.

The Greek Catholic monastery of St. Sergius (Mar Sarkis or Mar Sergus) has a chapel with a beautiful display of icons,built in the 4th century on the remains of a pagan temple, the Mar Sarkis monastery is one of the oldest in Christendom.

Mar Sarkis is designed after the pattern of the martyrion (a shrine dedicated to a martyr) and is dedicated to St. Sergius, a Roman soldier who was executed for his Christian beliefs (Sergius has a grand basilica in Rasafa, Syria)) .)

The convent of Mar Sarkis retains its historic feeling and houses an interesting collection of religious icons from the 16th to the 18th century including one of the Virgin Mary and another of the martyrs Sergius and Bacchus.

Further down in the village is the Greek Orthodox monastery of St. Thecla (Mar Takla). Thecla was the daughter of a Seleucid prince and a young disciple of St. Paul whose dramatic life story was narrated. She is believed to be buried in the mountain just above the monastery. On the road that leaves the the village, there is a steep path on the right leading to a terrace where a small waterfall welcomes the pilgrims.

The building was constructed on several levels. On the top floor there is a modern church with a dome and a cave which filters water with miraculous properties. This religious monument receives a cascading stream of Christian and Muslim pilgrims while Other religious relics can be found in the convent but what amazes one most is the peaceful and wholesome ambience of the place.

Festivals and Events

The Maalulahas a collection of unique religious and festive songs and a great sense of community and festivity. There are three major festivals: the St. Cross Festival on September 14th; the Festival of Mar Takla on September 22nd; and the festival of Mar Sarkis on October 7th. Hundreds of visitors attend these celebrations and enjoy some of the most jubilant festivals all over syria.

L. Nasser