Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

Satellite Imagery-Based Analysis of Archaeological Looting in Syria

Jesse Casana
Near Eastern Archaeology
Vol. 78, No. 3, Special Issue: The Cultural Heritage Crisis in the Middle East (September 2015), pp. 142-152
DOI: 10.5615/neareastarch.78.3.0142
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5615/neareastarch.78.3.0142
Page Count: 11
Subjects: Religion Archaeology Middle East Studies Classical Studies
Find more content in these subjects: Religion Archaeology Middle East Studies Classical Studies
  • Download PDF
  • Add to My Lists
  • Cite this Item

To read the article: Download PDF

Satellite Imagery-Based Analysis of Archaeological Looting in Syria on JSTOR
ARTICLES

Abstract

Most efforts to evaluate the impact of the war in Syria on the country's cultural heritage have struggled with the highly politicized nature of reporting and the total absence of evidence from many regions. As part of ASOR's Cultural Heritage Initiative, this study documents patterns of looting and other forms of damage at more than 1,200 archaeological sites using recent, high-resolution satellite imagery. Analysis focuses on generating quantifiable data regarding the scope and severity of looting across Syria. Results suggest that more than 25% of archaeological sites in Syria have been impacted by looting since the war began, an order of magnitude increase over pre-war levels, but that the frequency and severity of looting varies significantly across areas held by different factions in the conflict.

Author Information

Jesse Casana

Jesse Casana is an Associate Professor of archaeology in the Department of Anthropology at Dartmouth College (USA). His research focuses on the settlement, land use, and environmental histories of the ancient Near East, and he specializes in the development and implementation of geospatial technologies in archaeology. Until the start of the Syrian war, he served as director of the ASOR-sponsored excavation at Tell Qarqur, Syria, and he currently directs a regional survey project in the Diyala River Valley, Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

References

  1. Abdulkarim, Maamoun 2014. Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums Annual Report 2013. Damascus: Ministry of Culture, Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums.
  2. Akkermans, Peter M. M. G. and Glenn M. Schwartz. 2003. The Archaeology of Syria: From Complex Hunter-Gatherers to Early Urban Societies (ca. 16,000–300 BC). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  3. Al-Azm, Amr; Salam Al-Kuntar, and Brian I. Daniels. 2014, September 2. ISIS' Antiquities Sideline. New York Times: The Opinion Pages: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/03/opinion/isis-antiquities-sideline.html?_r=2 (accessed June 1, 2015).
  4. Bjørgo, Einar, et al. 2014. Satellite-based Damage Assessment to Cultural Heritage Sites in Syria. UNITAR/UNOSAT: http://www.unitar.org/unosat/chs-syria (accessed June 1, 2015).
  5. Burns, Ross. 2009. Monuments of Syria: A Guide. London: I. B. Tauris.
  6. Casana, Jesse. 2014. Regional-Scale Archaeological Remote Sensing in the Age of Big Data: Automated Detection versus Brute Force Methods. Advances in Archaeological Practice 2 (3): 222–33.
  7. Casana, Jesse and Jackson Cothren. 2013. The CORONA Atlas Project: Orthorectification of CORONA Satellite Imagery and Regional-Scale Archaeological Exploration in the Near East. Pp. 33–43 in Mapping Archaeological Landscapes from Space, Douglas Comer and Michael Harrower, eds.
  8. Casana, Jesse, Jackson Cothren, and Tuna Kalayci. 2012. Swords into Ploughshares: Archaeological Applications of CORONA Satellite Imagery in the Near East. Internet Archaeology 32 (2): http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue32/2/toc.html
  9. Casana, Jesse and Mitra Panahipour. 2014. Satellite-based Monitoring of Looting and Damage to Archaeological Sites in Syria. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 2 (2): 129–52.
  10. Contreras, Daniel A. 2010. Huaqueros and Remote Sensing Imagery: Assessing Looting Damage in the Virú Valley, Peru. Antiquity 84 (324): 544–55.
  11. Contreras, Daniel A. and Neil Brodie. The Utility of Publicly-Available Satellite Imagery for Investigating Looting of Archaeological Sites in Jordan. Journal of Field Archaeology 35 (1): 101–114.
  12. Loveluck, Louisa. 2015. Islamic State Sets Up ‘Ministry of Antiquities’ to Reap the Profits of Pillaging. The Telegraph May 30, 2015: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11640670/Islamic-State-sets-up-ministry-of-antiquities-to-reap-the-profits-of-pillaging.html (accessed June 1, 2015).
  13. Matthiae, Paolo and Nicoló Marchetti, eds. 2013. Ebla and its Landscape: Early State Formation in the Ancient Near East. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
  14. Jahjah, Munzer, Carlo Ulivieri, Antonio Invernizzi, and Roberto Para-petti. 2007. Archaeological Remote Sensing Application Pre-Post War Situation of Babylon Archaeological Site-Iraq. Acta Astronautica 61: 121–30.
  15. SNAP 2015. Estimated Areas of Control as of 28 Feb, 2015. http://acaps.org/img/documents/m-snap-estimated-areas-of-control-syria-28-feb-2015.pdf (accessed 1 June 2015).
  16. Stone, Elizabeth C. 2008. Patterns of Looting in Southern Iraq. Antiquity 82: 125–38.
  17. Trafficking Culture. 2012. Looting at Apamea Recorded via Google Earth: http://traffickingculture.org/data/looting-at-apamea-recorded-via-google-earth/ (accessed January 27, 2014).
  18. Ur, Jason. 2013. Spying on the Past: Declassified Intelligence Satellite Photographs and Near Eastern Landscapes. Near Eastern Archaeology 76: 28–36.
  19. Wolfinbarger, Susan. 2015. Satellite Imaging of Cultural Sites in Conflict: A Cautionary Note. AAAS Blog: http://www.aaas.org/news/satellite-imaging-cultural-sites-conflict-cautionary-note (accessed June 1, 2015).
  20. Wolfinbarger, Susan, Jonathan Drake, Eric Ashcroft, Katharyn Hanson. 2014. Ancient History, Modern Destruction: Assessing the Current Status of Syria's World Heritage Sites Using High-Resolution Satellite Imagery. AAAS Blog: http://www.aaas.org/page/ancient-history-modern-destruction-assessing-current-status-syria-s-world-heritage-sites-using (accessed June 1, 2015).

References

  1. Abdulkarim, Maamoun 2014. Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums Annual Report 2013. Damascus: Ministry of Culture, Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums.
  2. Akkermans, Peter M. M. G. and Glenn M. Schwartz. 2003. The Archaeology of Syria: From Complex Hunter-Gatherers to Early Urban Societies (ca. 16,000–300 BC). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  3. Al-Azm, Amr; Salam Al-Kuntar, and Brian I. Daniels. 2014, September 2. ISIS' Antiquities Sideline. New York Times: The Opinion Pages: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/03/opinion/isis-antiquities-sideline.html?_r=2 (accessed June 1, 2015).
  4. Bjørgo, Einar, et al. 2014. Satellite-based Damage Assessment to Cultural Heritage Sites in Syria. UNITAR/UNOSAT: http://www.unitar.org/unosat/chs-syria (accessed June 1, 2015).
  5. Burns, Ross. 2009. Monuments of Syria: A Guide. London: I. B. Tauris.
  6. Casana, Jesse. 2014. Regional-Scale Archaeological Remote Sensing in the Age of Big Data: Automated Detection versus Brute Force Methods. Advances in Archaeological Practice 2 (3): 222–33.
  7. Casana, Jesse and Jackson Cothren. 2013. The CORONA Atlas Project: Orthorectification of CORONA Satellite Imagery and Regional-Scale Archaeological Exploration in the Near East. Pp. 33–43 in Mapping Archaeological Landscapes from Space, Douglas Comer and Michael Harrower, eds.
  8. Casana, Jesse, Jackson Cothren, and Tuna Kalayci. 2012. Swords into Ploughshares: Archaeological Applications of CORONA Satellite Imagery in the Near East. Internet Archaeology 32 (2): http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue32/2/toc.html
  9. Casana, Jesse and Mitra Panahipour. 2014. Satellite-based Monitoring of Looting and Damage to Archaeological Sites in Syria. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 2 (2): 129–52.
  10. Contreras, Daniel A. 2010. Huaqueros and Remote Sensing Imagery: Assessing Looting Damage in the Virú Valley, Peru. Antiquity 84 (324): 544–55.
  11. Contreras, Daniel A. and Neil Brodie. The Utility of Publicly-Available Satellite Imagery for Investigating Looting of Archaeological Sites in Jordan. Journal of Field Archaeology 35 (1): 101–114.
  12. Loveluck, Louisa. 2015. Islamic State Sets Up ‘Ministry of Antiquities’ to Reap the Profits of Pillaging. The Telegraph May 30, 2015: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11640670/Islamic-State-sets-up-ministry-of-antiquities-to-reap-the-profits-of-pillaging.html (accessed June 1, 2015).
  13. Matthiae, Paolo and Nicoló Marchetti, eds. 2013. Ebla and its Landscape: Early State Formation in the Ancient Near East. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
  14. Jahjah, Munzer, Carlo Ulivieri, Antonio Invernizzi, and Roberto Para-petti. 2007. Archaeological Remote Sensing Application Pre-Post War Situation of Babylon Archaeological Site-Iraq. Acta Astronautica 61: 121–30.
  15. SNAP 2015. Estimated Areas of Control as of 28 Feb, 2015. http://acaps.org/img/documents/m-snap-estimated-areas-of-control-syria-28-feb-2015.pdf (accessed 1 June 2015).
  16. Stone, Elizabeth C. 2008. Patterns of Looting in Southern Iraq. Antiquity 82: 125–38.
  17. Trafficking Culture. 2012. Looting at Apamea Recorded via Google Earth: http://traffickingculture.org/data/looting-at-apamea-recorded-via-google-earth/ (accessed January 27, 2014).
  18. Ur, Jason. 2013. Spying on the Past: Declassified Intelligence Satellite Photographs and Near Eastern Landscapes. Near Eastern Archaeology 76: 28–36.
  19. Wolfinbarger, Susan. 2015. Satellite Imaging of Cultural Sites in Conflict: A Cautionary Note. AAAS Blog: http://www.aaas.org/news/satellite-imaging-cultural-sites-conflict-cautionary-note (accessed June 1, 2015).
  20. Wolfinbarger, Susan, Jonathan Drake, Eric Ashcroft, Katharyn Hanson. 2014. Ancient History, Modern Destruction: Assessing the Current Status of Syria's World Heritage Sites Using High-Resolution Satellite Imagery. AAAS Blog: http://www.aaas.org/page/ancient-history-modern-destruction-assessing-current-status-syria-s-world-heritage-sites-using (accessed June 1, 2015).