Symposium on “The Syrian Civil War and Cultural Heritage – The Actual State of the World Heritage Site at Palmyra and International Support for Its Reconstruction”
In the Middle Eastern country of Syria, a massive civil uprising calling for democratization occurred in March 2011 and developed into a civil war that has already lasted five years. Casualties in the nation have topped 250 thousand while more than 4.8 million citizens have fled the country as refugees.
Because of this state of civil warfare in Syria, valuable cultural assets have suffered damage as well, which has been reported as major news stories internationally. Of particular note is that reports of damage wrought on Palmyra by Islamic State (IS) militants from August 2015 through October last year made headlines and drew public attention also in Japan.
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) cohosted the symposium titled “The Syrian Civil War and Cultural Heritage – The Actual State of the World Heritage Site at Palmyra and International Support for Its Reconstruction” with the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and the Cultural Heritage Protection Cooperation Office, Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO at the Tokyo National Museum and Todaiji Temple’s Kinsho Hall on November 20th and 23rd, 2016, respectively.
The ruins of Palmyra had been controlled by the IS since May 2015 and they were recaptured by the Syrian government forces in March 2016. Polish and Syrian researchers conducted field surveys at the site in April. They recorded the state of damage wrought on the ruins in the region and the Palmyra Museum, and provided preliminary aid to damaged artifacts of the museum and transported them to Damascus promptly.
At this symposium, Polish and Syrian researchers who witnessed the graphic situation at the site, experts from both home and abroad, and UNESCO staff got together and discussed what type of support would be effective with a view to reconstructing damaged cultural heritages in Syria, including the devastated ruins of Palmyra.