Movable Heritage

Palmyra museum Report Aug2016_Athena.jpg

© DGAM; April 2016
Beheaded sculpture at the Palmyra Museum

Illegal excavations and looting have exponentially increased since the beginning of the conflict in Syria. These actions have damaged many historical sites and museums, and important Syrian cultural property has disappeared from the country to end up on the black market and/or in private collections.

Numerous archaeological sites in Syria are being systematically targeted for clandestine excavations by well-organized and often armed groups. Excavated archaeological objects of cultural significance make a lucrative trade for unscrupulous dealers operating both locally and internationally.

Sites situated near the borders are, in general, more susceptible to be targeted by looters who take advantage of their location to quickly and illegally export artefacts out of Syria.

The majority of the artefacts in the thirty-four national museums have been transferred to secure warehouses. Most of the damage to museums in Syria has occurred in the north-western region of the country, where there have been incidents of looting of valuable cultural property, and many works of art are currently unaccounted for. A large number of museums have also had their infrastructure damaged as a result of being caught in the armed conflict.

More information - Emergency actions against illicit trafficking in Syria