Looting the past. Syria’s cultural heritage under attack: another Iraq?
Historic monuments bombed during the fighting between rebels and Syrian army, archaeological sites occupied by military bases or threatened by illicit excavations and museums left vulnerable to looting and devastation. In a journey through the disasters of the ongoing civil war, Paolo Brusasco narrates the pillage of Syria’s glorious past and the shattering of its historical memory. So called the “crossroad of ancient cultures”, the country’s history reflects the main steps of the evolution of mankind, from the introduction of early agriculture to the emergence of urban societies. By comparing Syria’s cultural devastation to the Iraqi example, the author tries to show how in both cases monuments and historical sites are appropriated on all sides because of their symbolic value and political relevance. A final section is devoted to the social study of ancient Syrian houses in order to keep alive the memory of Syria’s cultural heritage.
Introduction. The “Arab Spring”: a “Dark Autumn” for archaeology?
Section 1. Syria’ s cultural heritage under attack
1. The destruction of Syria’ s cultural heritage
2. Looting the memory and militarizing the past
3. The looting of archaeological sites
4. Damage from neglect and development pressure
Section 2. The sociology of the ancient Syrian house and the south Mesopotamian model
1. Why study Syrian houses?
2. The Syrian house and the south Mesopotamian model
List of figures
Paolo Brusasco teaches Archaeology and Art History of the Ancient Near East at the University of Genova, Italy. Former Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge (UK), he has supervised several excavations in Iraq, Syria, Italy and other Mediterranean countries. Among his publications are: The Archaeology of Verbal and Nonverbal Meaning. Mesopotamian domestic architecture and its textual dimension (Archaeopress, Oxford, 2007), La Mesopotamia prima dell’Islam (Bruno Mondadori, Milano, 2008), Babilonia. All’origine del mito (Raffaello Cortina, Milano, 2012).