Syria Cultural Heritage Initiative

December 21, 2014
Nine millennia of civilization in Syria have produced some of the world's most spectacular cultural heritage, from the remains of immense Bronze and Iron Age cities, to extensive Greek and Roman metropolises, well-preserved rural Byzantine towns, breathtaking medieval castles, and masterpieces of Islamic art and architecture.  Six of Syria’s heritage areas are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and 12 more have been nominated for inclusion.  
The ongoing conflict in Syria is having a devastating impact on the welfare of the Syrian people and the heritage they cherish.  Many historical landmarks – including World Heritage sites – have been damaged or destroyed, while archaeological sites have been ruthlessly and systematically plundered.  The United States strongly supports efforts to preserve Syria’s cultural heritage and continues to call on all parties to the conflict to respect and protect Syrian cultural sites, including museums, archives, and places of archaeological, historic, and religious significance.
The U.S. Department of State is committed to helping Syrians preserve their priceless heritage through a variety of projects. These include close monitoring of looting at archaeological sites, compiling a map and inventory of more than 1,000 major cultural heritage sites, and supporting the production of the Emergency Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects at Risk.  The United States will continue to closely monitor and raise awareness about threats to heritage in Syria.  We owe this to the Syrian people, who are being stripped of their cultural identity, and to the world at large that respects, admires, and studies this heritage.