Responding to a Cultural Heritage Crisis: The SHOSI Project


An overflow crowd spilled into Cohen’s lecture hall on September 22 for Brian Daniels’ sobering yet inspiring Goldberg Lecture entitled Protecting Cultural Heritage in Syria and Iraq: Lessons Learned in the Present Crisis.   

Considerable attention has been given to the ongoing destruction of cultural heritage as part of the current crisis in Syria and Iraq. While many academic responses have started the important work of documenting the extent and scale of the damage to cultural sites in both countries, there have been fewer attempts to work within a humanitarian framework in order to support Syrians and Iraqis who are undertaking emergency efforts to protect heritage at risk.

Daniels co-directs the Safeguarding the Heritage of Syria and Iraq Project (SHOSI), which aims to enhance the protection of cultural heritage by supporting professionals and activists in conflict areas, and leads a National Science Foundation-supported study about the intentional destruction of cultural heritage in conflict.

Daniels, along with Salam Al Quntar, Katharyn Hanson, and Corine Wegener, wrote an article, “Responding to a Cultural Heritage Crisis:  The Example of the Safeguarding the Heritage of Syria and Iraq Project,” that recently appeared in a special issue (September 2015) of Near Eastern Archaeology (Vol. 78, No. 3).

This article discusses the strategies employed by the SHOSI Project to assist in-country professionals and civil society activists in their attempts to protect key heritage sites. The approach combines the empowerment of Syrians and Iraqis in decision-making about their heritage while supporting them with the logistics and resources necessary to carry out emergency efforts. It demonstrates one case study of how on-the-ground protection can be achieved.

*Temple of Bel at Palmyra

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