US Museums Provide Emergency Support for Syria

Julia Halperin, The Art Newspaper
18 July 2014

US museums are teaming up with the Syrian Interim Government’s Heritage Task Force to help protect Syrian museum collections and stem the loss of cultural heritage amid the country’s ongoing civil war.
Late last month, experts from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and the Pennsylvania Museum’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center quietly organised a three-day training session for curators, heritage experts and civilians in an undisclosed location outside of Syria. Around 20 people from several Syrian provinces attended the event, which focused on securing high-risk collections. 

“Local communities are best equipped to identify heritage in need of preservation and protection, and this is precisely what is happening in Syria,” says Richard Leventhal, the executive director of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center, in a statement. 

Experts are still working to determine the extent of looting that has taken place in Syria over the past several years and continues to ravage the country’s ancient sites. As reported in the July/August issue of The Art Newspaper, recently published satellite images of Dura-Europos reveal the dramatic scale of looting at the Hellenistic site, near the Iraqi border, between June 2012 and April 2014. The images show hundreds of holes made by looters searching for artifacts. 
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