Syrian Antiquities are a National Economic Treasure and Preserving them is a National Duty

 “ Syria is  a large historical and cultural region. Over the course of millennia , Syria played a very significant role in the formation and development of human civilization . The destruction of archaeological property is an attack on  the heart of civilization as a whole” Eng. Ibrahim Kherbek , Head of Lattakia’s Antiquities said in an interview with the Syriatimes e-newspaper.

 He stressed  that cultural tourism is the cornerstone of Syrian tourism in general, because this kind of tourism depends on the archaeological sites which Syria is famous for.

Eng. Kherbek underlined that the authorities concerned in the archaeological and cultural field in Lattakia governorate are still trying to do their utmost to highlight  Lattakia’s   rich cultural diversity  which may qualify it tobecome the centre of cultural tourism.

He made it clear that Lattakia presents a shortened panorama of the fertile historical scene in Syria through its collection of antiquities that go back thousands of years, passing through all ages as is the case in Ugarit, where the remains of five civilizations starting with the Neolithic era were observed in the eighth millennium before Christmas and lasts until the era of modern bronze in the second millennium B.C. as places dating back to the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods.

Eng. Kherbek  indicated that  that a big number  of tourists are willing to visit the various archaeological sites in Lattakia , such as the site of Ugarit and Saladin castle , along with many other historical monuments such as the Muhallabah Castle, the Hellenistic Castle, the Bacchus Columns, the Great Arch, Lattakia Port, the Jabal Archaeological Amphitheater and the National Museum, in addition to mosques, churches, monasteries , markets, alleys and hills ,  landfills Palaces, arches, and archaeological gates.

He highly appreciated the efforts of the Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM)   to revitalize the cultural tourism which draws its presence from the cultural heritage.  This was crystallized by visiting archaeological sites, attending festivals held in these sites as well as residing and wandering in nature reserves.

 “ Syrian cultural and archaeological  heritage has suffered great deliberate   destruction ,  during the Syrian war by  ISIS , as it  targeted valuable antiquities and ancient cultural sites” Eng. Kherbek expressed.

He made it clear that Saladin Castle in Lattakia was exposed to acts of damage and sabotage carried out   by the armed terrorist organizations, which affected the castle's location, history, sections, towers, walls.

“this year a project to rehabilitate and restore the Salah al-Din Citadel is taking place. It targets some of the main towers and fences in the castle, and includes dismantling and installing different kinds of stones. The collapse of part of the southern eastern wall that connects between the towers in Saladin Castle is also being addressed as a result of heavy rains, frosts and various weather factors on the Syrian coast” Eng. Kherbek said.

He stressed “In view of the importance of this work and its ambulatory consolidation so that other parts don't collapse we conducted the necessary reconstructive studies”.

Eng. Kherbek highlighted the fact that the  tangible and intangible heritage is considered  one of the components of the national identity and a characteristic of its authenticity  and protecting it is the responsibility of everyone, especially the Directorate of Antiquities and Museums, which seeks to implement a strategy for conservation  and preserving this heritage in accordance with the standards of relevant international agreements signed by Syria in 2003 to keep it alive in memory and conscience.

 “In view of the need to preserve the heritage pieces , an electronic documentation program was carried out  with the aim of  documenting the whole  details for each artifact reserved in Lattakia’s national museum and it is an ID card for everyone of them”. Eng. Kherbek said.

Treasures looking for treasures

The Department of Lattakia’s Antiquities  has  organized the activity of the young  archaeologist, which is the first of its kind, as  a group of children were received at the Ain Al-Hilweh Archaeological Site near the ancient site of Ibn Hani. 

Eng. Kherbek affirmed the activity aimed at teaching the Syrian child his country's history and linking it to his national heritage as the child was introduced to civilization, then how to excavate the antiquities and the process of recording and photographing these excavated monuments and how to be the protector of his history and national heritage.

He indicated a virtual excavation was carried out so that some archeological pieces were buried for the child to discover during excavation, affirming “we created a relationship of culture and love between the child and the monuments, we seek to build up a generation that loves the antiquities, protects them and defends them later.

The duty of the Antiquities Department is not only the restoration, excavation, documentation, and preservation of antiquities rather to raise awareness about the importance of preserving Syrian antiquities, which are a national economic treasure” Eng. Kherbek concluded.


Interviewed by: Rawaa Ghanam..

Photos by: Rawaa Ghanam..