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article imageHistorical sites in Syria threatened

By Justin King     Sep 8, 2013 in World
Syria sits in the heart of the ancient world, and over the last 5,000 years has accumulated a wide array of historical sites that are at risk of being lost forever.
As Western nations contemplate bombing Syria, scholars are already trying to determine what has been lost in the civil war, and what will be lost during the expected escalation of the war. The Sumerians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans all laid claim to the nation that is now Syria at some point in distant history, and each civilization left its own ancient mark. Paul the Apostle was converted on the road to Damascus, and the early church left a great deal of artifacts in the region.
A report by Durham University outlined six World Heritage sites that have already been damaged. The Ancient Villages of Northern Syria, Bosra, Crac des Chevaliers, Palmyra, Damascus, and Aleppo have all sustained damage. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has declared all six sites under threat. Preserving the cultural heritage of Syria, even in wartime, is a requirement of international law.
As the fighting drains resources, leaving borders unsecured, there is also the threat of relics and artifacts being smuggled out and making their way on to the black market. The ancient cuneiform tablets, relics left over from the Crusades, Greek mosaics and coins from dozens of ancient civilizations are at risk of being lost to the illicit art trade.
The Great Mosque of Aleppo has been damaged by shelling and has lost its signature minaret, and the Crac des Chevaliers, one of the last remaining Crusader castles, has been used as an observation post by the Free Syrian Army.
As the fighting intensifies with new belligerents entering the war, worry among historians and archaeologists increases that the sites will not survive.
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