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“There has been a lot of looting,” said Hiba al-Sakhel, director of museums in Syria.

April 10, 2012

The Krak des Chevaliers, considered a crown jewel of Crusader castles and a top tourist attraction, is occupied by armed men.

New reports that cultural heritage is collateral damage in the year-long Syrian revolt.  Last month we posted about looting in Syria, now The Archaeology News Network has this post from Middle East Online about the shelling and looting that threatens and has damaged archaeological sites and museums around the country.

According to experts, thieves have already made off with items from the museum in the central city of Hama, including antique weapons and a statue dating back to Aramaic times.

Further northwest, the historical Citadel of Shayzar, overlooking the Orontes River, has been damaged while in Apamea, a Roman marble statue has been stolen from the museum and looters have been busy pillaging the sprawling site at night, the experts say.

They add that stolen pieces are probably smuggled through Lebanon and other neighbouring countries and then sold on the black market.

The open ruins of Ebla, the site of fierce clashes between regime forces and rebels, has been exposed to looting.

Six Syrian sites — Damascus, Aleppo, Palmyra, Bosra, the Krak des Chevaliers and Saladin’s Castle, the ancient villages of northern Syria — are inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list and many more are on the agency’s tentative list.

Marc Griesheimer, head of the department of archaeology and antiquities at the French Institute of the Near East in Beirut, said Syria’s archaeological sites were exceptional in that they bear witness to the evolution of mankind.

“What is fascinating in Syria is that, along with Mesopotamia, the country reflects the main advances made by humankind, … meaning the birth of the first villages or the evolution from the state of predator to sedentism,” he said.

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