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ASOR Media Note—For Immediate Release

Cultural Heritage Initiatives:
Planning for Safeguarding Heritage Sites in Syri
a and Iraq

Syrian Heritage Initiative logo with US Flag

American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) is pleased to announce that, with a $900,000 extension to our previous one-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of State, the ASOR Syrian Heritage Initiative team will be able to continue its work of documenting comprehensively the current condition of cultural heritage sites in Syria and portions of Iraq and to assess future restoration, preservation, and protection needs. Now known as ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives—Planning for Safeguarding Heritage Sites in Syria and Iraq, this program will continue to raise global awareness of the threats to cultural heritage while also implementing future projects and providing immediate assistance within the region. ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives Program is led by five principal investigators: Michael Danti (ASOR, Academic Director), Andrew Vaughn (ASOR, Administrative Director), Scott Branting (University of Central Florida), Jesse Casana (Dartmouth College), and Abdalrazzaq Moaz (University of Bonn and ASOR). Allison Cuneo, LeeAnn Barnes Gordon, and Susan Penacho serve as Project Managers for their respective program units. The international team also includes more than 30 additional scholars and specialists who will serve as co-investigators, consultants, or advisors.

In its first year, ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives produced a total of 46 Weekly Reports and 312 Incident Reports (90 for Iraq and 222 for Syria) and inventoried a total of 11,853 sites in the region (8,979 for Syria and 2,874 for Iraq). We completed rapid initial assessments to identify damage using satellite imagery  of 4,732 sites in Syria. Subsequently, we produced detailed assessments of more than a quarter of those sites. The team also completed more than 300 comprehensive condition assessments for cultural heritage sites in Syria and Iraq by combining satellite imagery analysis and weekly reporting data,. Additionally, team members published or submitted for publication several op-ed, popular, and peer-reviewed articles on the cultural heritage crisis in the conflict zone, and ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives were featured in over 50 news stories, including newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasts, live television, and live webcasts. The ASOR team also received support from the J. M. Kaplan Fund and in-kind support from the Getty Conservation Institute, The World Monuments Fund, and Arnold and Porter, LLC.

The United States is committed to protecting cultural heritage from pillage, looting, and illicit trafficking around the world, and the cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of State and ASOR is part of a larger U.S. Department of State effort to preserve the historic sites and treasures in Syria and Iraq. Destruction of this region’s rich history threatens a cultural legacy of universal importance and jeopardizes the role heritage can play in post-conflict reconciliation and economic revitalization efforts. To learn more about the State Department’s efforts to protect the culture heritage of Syria and Iraq, please visit

ASOR, founded in 1900 and currently located at Boston University, is the preeminent organization of archaeologists and historians who initiate, encourage and support research into, and public understanding of, the cultures and history of the Near East. The cooperative agreement between ASOR and the Department of State is jointly managed by ASOR ( and the Office of Press and Public Diplomacy of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and the Cultural Heritage Center of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). For further information, please contact ECA’s Office of Public Affairs and Strategic Communications or ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives office ( 

Learn more at ASOR's Cultural Heritage Initiatives website.

The American Schools of Oriental Research
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Boston, MA 02215
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Telephone: 617-353-6570

The American Schools of Oriental Research | Contact | Overseas Centers | Facebook September 21, 2015