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.
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.
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