From 13 to 15 December 2016, the World Heritage Centre organized a First-Aid Technical Assistance Workshop for three World Heritage sites on Syria, at the UNESCO Office in Beirut.
As the joint WHC/ICOMOS/ICCROM reactive monitoring mission planned in Syria in December 2016 could not take place due to security reasons, a technical workshop has been organized swiftly to examine, with cultural heritage experts and the technical staff of the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums of Syria (DGAM), the technical requirements for the emergency safeguarding of the World Heritage sites of the Crac des Chevaliers, Palmyra and the Ancient city of Damascus.
Through maps, pictures, surveys and other information available, this workshop examined the state of conservation of the sites, assessed damages, adressed conservation challenges and defined the emergency consolidations needed. Recommendations were made and priority interventions underlined.
For the Crac des Chevaliers, the experts recommended undertaking the necessary urgent interventions and restoration works to avoid further degradation of the masonry and carrying out detailed studies for more complex or less urgent restoration works.
For the Site of Palmyra, the state of conservation of the citadel, the museum and the archaeological site including the Temple of Bel and the Arch of Triumph, has been examined. The experts recalled the importance of gathering all available scientific documentation and carrying out a sound diagnosis of structures before any other emergency intervention is implemented, including debris management.
Finally, for the Ancient city of Damascus, the experts examined the restoration project proposed for the building of the ‘Old Ottoman Bank’, seriously damaged by the fire that spread in al-Asrooniya neighbourhood. They recommended the DGAM to revise the project in order to preserve the heritage value of the historic building, to set a coordination mechanism for restoration works, and to protect the building from further degradation due to weathering urgently.