Syria: destruction of world heritage


New: Video circulating on Internet of destroyed ancient area of Aleppo as of December 2016. A man says , ‘Apology to, sorry for Aleppo”, a woman explains, ‘this was once a UNESCO World Heritage Site’, a man names the stores and a mosque. A Russian and Syrian national flag is in the rubble.

NEW: Listen to Resource – BBC Radio 4 on Destruction of Syrian and Iraqi Antiquities

Catastrophic damage of the Citadel, ancient souq, centuries-old palaces and houses has been an on-going tragedy during the Syrian revolution. (See here and end of this article.) Beyond human life, there is heritage; it is fragile and teeters on the brink of destruction.  Human life and history is being destroyed as I write these few sentences. Beyond the horrific pictures, there is my memory; a minuscule record of beautiful Syria.

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Late afternoon at Dar Zamaria’s roof-top restaurant, looking toward the Citadel of Aleppo, in center of the old city of Aleppo.

Aleppo Citadel at night dating back to the 3rd millennium BC.

Follow this link to pre-revolutionary photo journey of 16th-19th century palace/boutique hotels. – -Excerpts from article written for Egypt Today Magazine, May 2009.

Update on destruction of Syrian antiquities :

Destruction of best preserved crusader castle: Krak des Chevaliers

Read more about Syria’s history and archaeology at Monuments of Syria A Window of Syria’s Past by Ross Burns.

Dear Syria, Save Damascus’ Old City

Queen of Fabrics – Silk


Silk, harir, has attracted man for millennia with its unique qualities of lightness and strength,durability, lustre and brilliance. A silk strand has a greater tensile strength than steel, yet no other material drapes more luxuriously, or flatters the body more.

The production of silk has been carried out in China for at least 3000 years – it could be said that silk defines China. Indeed, the Chinese were known to the Roman world as ‘Seres’, producers of silk, and their land called ‘Sericus’, the land of silk. From this name is derived ‘sericulture’ the collective describing the art of silk farming.

DSC07721Silk has always been a precious commodity, highly sought after by many countries. The Chinese, however, guarded the secret of sericulture very well. The third century monk, Dionysius Perigates, wrote of the Chinese, or ‘Seres’. “The Seres make precious figured garments resembling in color the flowers of the field, and rivaling in fineness the work of spiders.”

China’s social philosopher, Confucius, writing in 1st century BC tells how Xi Ling Shi, wife of emperor Huangdi, mythical ruler of China in the third millenium BC, picked a cocoon from the branch of a mulberry tree and, while having tea, accidentally dropped the cocoon into boiling water. When she pulled out the cocoon, a long thread unraveled. From this accident, the long white thread has traversed the world connecting past to present, orient to occident, and used as adornment for the living and the dead. Silk is the queen of fabrics but it all started with worms.


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(Obelisque Magazine, Autumn 2010)

Remembering Damascus: The Damascene House

copyscape-banner-white-160x56The Damascene House has many meanings and multiple dimensions. It is the Arab’s architectural idea of residential paradise. The courtyard is an illuminated space open to the lofty sky; its internal recesses reach into our innermost psyche. Elaborate symbolism governs this geometrically inspired structure. The courtyard serves as the center of tranquility around which the rooms orbit much like planets revolve around the sun. The architect uses arches, rectangles, squares, and geometric lines as means of demarcation and materials such as stone, marble, and wood to convey the cool and warm qualities of such spaces. The most important principle of Arab architectural design is the unity of its different elements: the central courtyard and the other spaces around it, together, create an oasis inside the house.

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(Obelisque Magazine, Autumn 2009)