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Director-General condemns destruction of vestiges in the Ancient City of Bosra, a Syrian World Heritage site

Thursday, 24 December 2015
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Ancient City of Bosra (Syrian Arab Republic) (04/04/2007) © Ko Hon Chiu Vincent | Ko Hon Chiu Vincent | Image Source: Ko Hon Chiu Vincent

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has condemned the destruction of parts of the Ancient City of Bosra during combats in the World Heritage site on 22 December 2015, as confirmed by the Syrian Directorate of Antiquities and Museums.

There is fear of further deterioration to the site due to severe damage to the western courtyard adjacent to Bosra’s 2nd century Roman theatre and to parts of the Ayyubid citadel, which surrounds it.

“The destructions sustained by Bosra represent a further escalation in the horror of war and must be stopped at once to allow the concerned parties to consolidate the agreement reached on the ground to preserve the irreplaceable heritage of Bosra,” declared Ms Bokova.

“The protection of cultural sites is part and parcel of the protection of human lives as it is essential for the restoration of peace in Syria. The Roman theatre of Bosra embodies the rich diversity of the identity of the people of Syria and I call on culture professionals worldwide, and particularly on the art market, to be extremely vigilant so as to fight against the traffic in artefacts from Bosra,” the Director-General added.

The Ancient City of Bosra is a major archaeological site, containing ruins from Roman, Byzantine, and Muslim times. The 2nd century Roman theatre—exceptional due to its architecture and state of conservation—was most probably built under Trajan. Subsequently, between 481 and 1251, it became part of the fortifications, which formed a powerful citadel guarding the road to Damascus.