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Results of knowledge and human work

Tishreen 04/11/2006

ĎSyria is the cradle (land) of human civilizationsí isnít allegation, but a fact, based on many archeological sites. And this cultural depth supports the Arab in their struggle with Israel who claims a historical right, which wasnít proved by any archeological prospection (drilling). 

So, it is supposed that we start to defend this treasure. Therefore, the department of archeology is being consulted before planning any coming project. But it seems that according to the province of Homs it is better to build a New York skyscraper in the land of other buildings which were already credited with the department of archeology. And it takes over the power of the department, and employs a Homsi architect, who reported that these buildings didnít have any artistry or historical value.

One of the previous convictions in the history of the province of Homs was pulling down ĎAl-dorubi houseí which used to be a palace with as a marvelous artistry and historical value. A decision was issued that confirms, that house was useless and had no value what so ever since all his decorations and ornamentations were rococo. 

Nowadays the aggression toward the archeological sites is being called (development- cultivation). And the new invented meaning of development in no longer connected to the institutes (organizations) that provide the stability of the financial independence. But now it is connected to the touristy and real estate projects, which is connected to the market wind (level). 

Accordingly, the mayor of tratous made certain that archeology and development are two paralleled line that can never meet! And he is absolutely right, because simple the unjust wrongful investments destroy the environment, archeological sites, and in contradiction with the nationalism interests. 

So it is supposed that the minister of culture stands bravely in the face of all the projects that are planned in the Syrian provinces, which are being disturbed by losing some lands that have been already registered to the archeological department, since these buildingsí projects bring too many interests and profits. Therefore we stop ourselves to read what was written in both Ďalrewaq magazine and al thawra newspaperí: the mayor of tartous announced his delight (gladness) with the visit of the minister of culture. Since it was the first visit at such high level with such success in both sides Ďpractically and professionallyí. Because the minister of culture didnít follow the road that former ministers of culture followed. Said he:í what holds back the improvement of some places is being represented by ďwishing, desiringĒ of registering (Amrit and Arwad) on the list of the humanistic heritage, under the UNESCOís terms (conditions):Ē to be untouchableĒ. But now it got to be crucial that some places need modernization, in order to offer quite good services. Since it is so hard to tell a poor man:Ē Please protect (guard, preserve) an ancient archeological piece of workĒ. The proverb isnít quite correct, Syria isnít a poor man who is (impelled, forced) to sell his national treasures. And it is the minister of cultureís duty to protect (guard, preserve) the archeological treasures. These treasures are the production of many generations and the out come of previous civilizations. No one has the right to waste it. And this requires that Culture shouldnít be lost in the codes (terms, expressions) field. 

The minister repeated in tratous what he has said previously:Ē we canít hold the development projects for a decade waiting for the prospect ions. And the priority goes to protecting the humans in comparison with protecting the stones. And it seemed that national needs are in conflict with the UNESCO standards in the issue of protecting Arwad and Amrit in registering then on the list of the universal heritage. And the archeological treasures in tartous are being a disaster, since they disturb the process of development in ďAl- Ghmaqa hill, Amrit, and ArwadĒ. 

Rebuilding Arwad in new elegant and modern way became now unavoidable. Thus now out of necessity the organizational projects that the province of tartous has planned to improve Arwad must be put in progress, and decrease the archeological areas in it. So it wonít disturb the development processes. 

It is such a spacious distance between what some people would see in Amrit. Some would see it as an environmental, educational, and Phoenician site. While others who might just see it as a land for touristy, residential, long distant investments and an instant profit projects. 

The decisions that were made at the meetings in tartous have revealed the main aim of these previous introductions that put human against stone, and development against archaeologies. This only makes clear all the abandonment of the archeological sites to the investmentsí market. And the decrease of the protected archeological sites, where it forbids any ďdevelopmentĒ projects, and the permission of the establishing a power plant in the Phoenician Amrit, and this power plant serves the beforehand constructed projects upon the archaeologies! Isnít it tragic how the ministry of culture abandons its best job as an institute (organization) that looks after the biggest national needs, and falls down to the level of the demands that are being requested by the local departments, which runs after present-day enterprises.

Decisions of tartous are quite dangerous on the Syrian cultural heritage. The existence of the constructionsí workshops upon a land that enfolds many archeological discoveries is like a suicide, a murder, or is it just a lack of knowledge, and itinerary?!

What we hope for now is that the ministry of culture will wash out the other ministries and provinces pressures, and starts to open some course, where it can draw attentions of the employees of these projects and institutes, where can be acknowledged about the history of Syria, it could also organize some tours ,for example, to catanasí findings as they could have been buried under some touristy or residential project, plus making some explanations why and how important the historical depth is in the Arabian-Zionist struggle.

And clarify the sameness between the UNESCOís protections standards and the national interests. And the drilling process is as act of a brush not a winch, which was obviously clear on the Phoenician canals in Amrit. Therefore the ministry of culture shouldnít be annoyed of the drilling process even if it lasted a whole decade. Didnít all of the discoveries of Catana, Ugarit, and Ibla take tens of decades of drilling?        


Uncountable well-spoken mottos that have covered those beneficiaries of the projects, which used to be a public sectors that became now investments projects. From a constitution covered by noble mottos grew privation and disintegration. But consumption of the archeological places under the name of touristy and residential projects is a disaster. Because these places canít be given back by an economical decision that aims to sets correct what went wrong.

What we also need that the department of archeology to become more strict in taking decisions, and not to be blamed about it. And everyone who appears to badly and wrongfully cooperate in the fate of the archaeologies should be punished by the name of the public right. As a result the ministry of culture should be neither subordinated with the project of the local department which is busy with the residential buildings, nor with the ministry of tourism which is busy with hotels, nor with the ministry of commerce which is busy with the market.

It should face all the pressure on the archeological decisions, and calls for a national conference that search for the correct utilizations of some expressions and terms, including ďdevelopmentĒ. And the position of archeology should be raised to the level of highly national matters and interests. The ministry of culture in entrusted with a very huge national treasure. Thereafter ďdevelopmentĒ is neither building residential houses nor beach cabins in Amrit, nor organized projects for hotels in Arwad. The process of ďdevelopmentĒ goes beyond the consumerism vision, but also expands the lands for drilling, and welcomes the archeological discoveries; moreover it matches the national political attitude.

Culture and education are necessities in each institute and development and we hope it wonít be one day a necessity in the culture ministry. So it would be still the auspicious that tells: culture is still the highest human need. When no human is put against no stone, and no development against archeology, and not to allow the tombs of Amrit to become in the garbage range, also not to shrink the lands and areas that are protected by the archeological department. Because these archeological stones are the results of the human work, awareness, sense, arts, and sciences.

There wonít be a better witness than us of plundering the Iraqi archaeologies, destroying its museums, and using up his archeological sites, where we witnessed the position of urbanite memory in the identity of its people, and the hatred against it that floods from its invaders. 

Author: Dr. Nadia khost


Translated by: Rasha Isa

the original article

pdf of the original article