Rebuilding Aleppo: Public Engagement in Post-Conflict Reconstruction

Munawar, Nour A. (2018) Rebuilding Aleppo: Public Engagement in Post-Conflict Reconstruction. Reconstruction: an ICOMOS Integrating e-journal, 1 . pp. 1-18. [Article]

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (4MB) | Preview

Abstract (in English)

The intentional ruination of cultural heritage sites and monuments is by no means a recent phenomenon, however, it has been taking place in war zones for centuries. The current war in Syria, and the rise of Daesh, have certainly placed a spot light on the destruction of heritage in Syria and elsewhere. The deliberate devastation of pre-Islamic remains has obviously angered many people in the Middle East, as well as the Western observers. The old city of Aleppo, one of Syria’s World Heritage Sites, has been drastically hit by the ongoing conflict. Several governmental and non-governmental organizations started to plan the post-war reconstruction of Syria’s second largest city. Since the war in Syria is still snowballing, the possibility to reach a sustainable route for heritage reconstruction in Aleppo is not an easy task. The future care of monuments, and the flow of funding and conservation expertise will predominantly depend on how the conflict ends, and frankly the winner will have the possibility to become the main decision maker. This paper examines continuous efforts to implement a top-down approach to the reconstruction of Syria’s heritage, such as the rebuilding of the replica project of Palmyra’s Arch. I argue that such an approach must be opposed and concurrently replaced by the bottom-up approach wherein decisions and action can be generated from the wider society.

Item Type: Article
Languages: English
Keywords: cultural heritage; armed conflicts; conflicts; displaced pepole; reconstruction; destruction of cultural heritage; historic towns; theory of restoration; debates; cultural policy; community participation; Syrian Arab Republic; post-disaster situation
Subjects: A. THEORETICAL AND GENERAL ASPECTS > 09. Philosophy of conservation
A. THEORETICAL AND GENERAL ASPECTS > 12. Theory of restoration
G.DETERIORATION > 04. Effects of deterioration
H.HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 12. Historic towns and villages
Name of monument, town, site, museum: Ancient City of Aleppo, Syrian Arab Republic
UNESCO WHC Number: 21
National Committee: ICOMOS
Volume: 1
Depositing User: Mrs Lucile Smirnov
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2018 15:49
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2018 15:49
References: Abdulkarim, M. 2014. Annual Report 2013. Syrian Arab Republic, Ministry of Culture, Directorate General

of Antiquities & Museums.

Albahri, W. 2014. Cultural Heritage in Syria’s Ongoing Conflict: Aleppo Case Study. MSc. dissertation

submitted for MSc in Architectural Conservation, University of Edinburgh, Unpublished MA thesis.

Aljazeera, 2013. Minaret of ancient Aleppo mosque destroyed. Aljazeera English, accessed 19-08-2017.

Aljazeera, 2016. Syria army captures key Aleppo districts. Aljazeera English, accessed 19-08-2017.


Al-Sabouni, M., 2016. The Battle for Home: the memoir of a Syrian architect. London: Thames and Hudson

Armahly, M., Blasi, C. & Hannah, L. 2004. Stari Most: rebuilding more than a historic bridge in Mostar.

Museum International 56 (4): 6-17.

Armitage, D. 2017. Civil wars: a history in ideas. Yale University Press.

Ascherson, N. 2007. Cultural Destruction by War, and its Impact on Group Identities, in Cultural Heritage in

Postwar Recovery, ed. N. Stanley-Price. Rome: ICCROM Conservation Studies 6: 17-25.

Ashworth, G.J, B. Graham& J.E. Tunbridge, 2007. Pluralising Pasts: Heritage, Identity and Place in

Multicultural Societies. London and Ann Arbor, MI, Pluto Press.

Bahrani, Z. 1998. Conjuring Mesopotamia: imaginative geography and a world past. In Archaeology under

fire: Nationalism, politics and heritage in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, ed. L.

MESKELL. London & New York, pp. 159-174.

Barakat, S. 2010. Seven pillars for post-war reconstruction, in After the Conflict: Reconstruction and

Development in the Aftermath of War, ed. S. Barakat. London & New York: I.B. Tauris (second

edition), pp. 249-270.

Barakat, S. & Chard M. 2010. Building post-war capacity: Where to Start?, in After the Conflict:

Reconstruction and Development in the Aftermath of War, ed. S. Barakat. London & New York: I.B.

Tauris (second edition), 173-190.

BBC, 2014. Syria: The story of the conflict. accessed 19-08-2017


BBC 2016. Russian maestro plays in Palmyra ruins. BBC, accessed 19-08-2017,

Bevan, R. 2006. The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War. London: Reaktion Books Ltd.

Bhalla, N. 2001. No return for Ethiopian treasure. BBC. accessed 19-08-2017,

Bobin, F. 2015. Disputes damage hopes of rebuilding Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Buddhas. The Guardian.

accessed 19-08-2017


Brockman-Hawe, B. 2014. The Syrian Civil War: Prospect for Intervention and Justice, (Ohio: Kentucky

Bar Association 2014)

Brown, M. 2016. Palmyra's Arch of Triumph recreated in Trafalgar Square. The Guardian, accessed 26-10-



Brown, M. 2016. Palmyra's Arch of Triumph recreated in Trafalgar Square. The Guardian. Accessed 19-08-



Campanella, T.J. 2006. Urban resilience and the recovery of New Orleans. Journal of the American Planning

Association, 72(2): 141-146.

Charlesworth, E. 2006. Architects without Frontiers: War, Reconstruction and Design Responsibility.

Architectural Press, Elsevier, Oxford and Burlington

Clarke, M., Fananay, I., Kenny, S. (Eds.) 2010. Post-disaster Reconstruction: Lessons from Aceh. Routledge,


Cunliffe, E. 2012. Damage to the soul: Syria's cultural heritage in conflict. Palo Alto, CA: Global Heritage


Erickson, J. 2013. Syria's Aleppo: Civil War Has Destroyed What Was Once The Cultural Jewel Of The

Middle East. Mint Press News. accessed 19-08-2017


Dearden, L. 2016. Russia stages classical concert in Palmyra as Vladimir Putin praises 'humanitarian act' in

Syria. The independent, accessed 26-10-2017,



De Cesari, C. 2010. Creative heritage: Palestinian heritage NGOs and defiant arts of government. American

Anthropologist, 112 (4): 625-637.

De Cesari, C. 2015. POST-COLONIAL RUINS: Archaeologies of political violence and IS. Anthropology

Today, 31 (6): 22-26.

De Jong, F. & Rowland M. 2008. Introduction: post-conflict heritage, Journal of Material Culture 13 (2):


Diaraa, A. 2012. Mali Islamists destroy tombs at famous Timbuktu mosque. Reuters. accessed 19-08-2017,

Fangi, G. and Wahbeh, W. 2014. The destroyed Minaret of the Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo, the Survey of

the Original State. European Scientific Journal, ESJ, 9 (10).

Fletcher, P. 2012. Timbuktu tomb destroyers pulverise Islam's history. Reuters. accessed 19-08-2017,

Grandin, T. 2015. Proposed Materials and Considerations for the Reconstruction of the Ancient City of

Aleppo, UNESCO, Draft Proposal.

Gillot, L. 2010. Towards a socio-political history of archaeology in the Middle East: The development of

archaeological practice and its impacts on local communities in Syria. Bulletin of the History of

Archaeology, 20(1).

Glass, C. 2016. Syria Burning: A Short History of a Catastrophe. Verso Books.

Grün, A. Remondino, F. and Zhang, L., 2004. Photogrammetric reconstruction of the great Buddha of

Bamiyan, Afghanistan. The Photogrammetric Record, 19(107), pp. 177-199.

Harrison, R.,2013. Heritage: critical approaches. Routledge.

Harrowell, E. 2016. Looking for the future in the rubble of Palmyra: Destruction, reconstruction and

identity. Geoforum, 69, pp. 81-83.

Hegarty, S. 2012. Bamiyan Buddhas: Should they be rebuilt? BBC. accessed 19-08-2017,

Holmes, O. 2014. “Satellite images show 290 heritage sites in Syria damaged by war: U.N.” Reuters,

accessed 19-08-2017,

Holtorf, C. 2015. Averting loss aversion in cultural heritage. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 21(4),

pp. 405-421.

Isakhan, B. 2011. Targeting the symbolic dimension of Baathist Iraq: cultural destruction, historical

memory, and national identity. Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, 4(3), pp. 257-


Izadi, E., 2014 “War has damaged all but one of Syria’s World Heritage Sites, satellite images show” The

Washington Post, accessed 19-08-2017,


Johnson, P. 2005. Trundling Musso’s stolen obelisk back to its African home. Spectator. accessed 19-08-


Kennedy, M. 2015. Timbuktu's historic tombs restored in show of confidence for war-ravaged Mali. The

Guardian, accessed 19-08-2017,


Knoema, 2011. World Population Prospects: The 2011 Revision – Urban Agglomerations, accessed 19-08-



Kondratyeva, S, 2017. How to Change Cities With Culture: 10 Tips Using UNESCO. Archdaily. accessed


Lostal, M. and Cunliffe, E. 2016. Cultural heritage that heals: factoring in cultural heritage discourses in

the Syrian peacebuilding process. The Historic Environment: Policy & Practice, pp. 1-12.

Meskell, L. and Scheermeyer, C. 2008. Heritage as therapy: Set pieces from the new South Africa. Journal of

Material Culture, 13(2), pp. 153-173.

Munawar, N.A. 2016. Can Local People Preserve Cultural Heritage? Paper presentation at the 22nd annual

meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists in Vilnius, Lithuania in 2016.

Munawar, N.A. 2017. Reconstructing Cultural Heritage in Conflict Zones: Should Palmyra be Rebuilt?In

Who Owns the Past? Archaeological Heritage between Idealization and Destruction. Eds. Gori, M.,

Pintucci, A., & Revello Lami, M. EX Novo Journal of Archaeology, second edition.

Oltermann, P. 2016. Berlin Museums' Refugee Guides Scheme Fosters Meeting of Minds. The Guardian,

accessed 26-10-2017,


Perini, S. and Cunliffe, E., 2014. Towards a protection of the Syrian cultural heritage. A summary of the

international responses (March 2011-March 2014). Association with Heritage for Peace.

Perini, S. and Cunliffe, E. 2015. Towards a protection of the Syrian cultural heritage: A summary of the

national and international responses. Volume III, Heritage for Peace, Girona.

Porter, L. 2016. Photos reveal great damage to the mighty Aleppo. Telegraph accessed 19-08-2017,


Qudsi, J. 2017. Rebuilding Old Aleppo Postwar Sustainable Recovery and Urban Refugee Resettlement.

Essay submitted for the Master program in International Urban Development Planning, New York


Ruck, J. 2016. Destruction of Aleppo: then and now – in pictures. The Guardian. accessed 19-08-2017,

Scovazzi, T. 2009. Legal aspects of the Axum Obelisk case. Museum International, 61(1-2), pp. 52-60.

Scurlock, M. 2017. Defending Damascus, Betraying Beirut: Hezbollah’s Communication Strategies in the

Syrian Civil War (Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University).

Shadi, W. and Bashar, M. 2015. Syrian Archaeological Heritage: Past And Present. Scientific Culture, Vol.

1, No. 3, pp. 1-14.

Silberman, N.A. 1991. Desolation and restoration: The impact of a biblical concept on Near Eastern

Archaeology. Biblical archaeologist, 54(2), pp. 76-87.

Sørensen, M.L.S. and Viejo-Rose, D. eds. 2015. War and Cultural Heritage. Cambridge University Press.

Stanley-Price, N. (ed.), 2007. Cultural Heritage in Postwar Recovery. Rome: ICCROM.

Stoughton, I. 2017. Syria's Civil War: Aleppo's heritage sites 'in danger'. Aljazeera English. Accessed 19-



Syrian Antiquities Law, 1963. Antiquities Law. Syrian Arab Republic, Ministry of Culture, General

Directorate of Antiquities and Museums. UNESCO, accessed 19-08-2017,

Turner, L. 2016. Palmyra's Arch of Triumph recreated in London. BBC, accessed 19-08-2017,

UNESCO 1998. Emergency Action Plan For The Bethlehem Area 1998. accessed 19-08-2017,

UNESCO, United Nations Population Fund & United Nations Development Programme, 2015. Post-2015

Dialogues on Culture and Development. Paris: UN.

UNESCO 2015a. Reconstruction of Timbuktu mausoleums nears completion. accessed 19-08-2017,

UNESCO 2015b. Director-General praises the people of Timbuktu for the reconstruction of the city’s

mausoleums, accessed 19-08-2017,


UNESCO 2017. UNESCO reports on extensive damage in first emergency assessment mission to Aleppo.

accessed 19-08-2017,

Viejo-Rose, D. 2011. Reconstructing Spain: Cultural heritage and memory after civil War. Apollo Books

Walasek, H., Imuhamedovi, A.H., Perry, V. and Wik, T. 2016. Bosnia and the Destruction of Cultural

Heritage. Routledge.

Wedwood, T. 2009. History in two dimensions or three? working class responses to history. International

Journal of Heritage Studies, 15(4), 277-297.

Zetter, R. 2010. Land, housing and the reconstruction of the built environment, in After the Conflict:

Reconstruction and Development in the Aftermath of War, ed. S. Barakat. London & New York: I.B.

Tauris (second edition), pp. 155-172.

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item



Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics