U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release September 21, 2014
STATEMENT BY JEN PSAKI, SPOKESPERSON
Threats to Cultural Heritage in Iraq and Syria
Secretary of State John Kerry will join the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas Campbell, and its president, Emily Rafferty, on September 22 to highlight the destruction of irreplaceable cultural heritage taking place throughout Iraq and Syria at the hands of violent extremists like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the Syrian regime.
The event, to be held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City amid the United Nations General Assembly week, will feature a presentation by Professor Michael Danti and remarks from Secretary Kerry, Director General of UNESCO Irina Bakova, and other distinguished members of the preservation and museum community.
As the United States responds to the violence in Iraq and Syria that has destroyed millions of lives and caused enormous suffering to the region’s people, we also remain deeply concerned about the destruction of cultural heritage in these areas of tragic conflict. Ancient treasures have now become casualties of continuing warfare and looting and are targets for destruction
Historic monuments and archaeological sites of the world, which enrich modern societies by connecting all of us to our cultural origins and informing our identities, must be preserved.
The unique cultural heritage of both Iraq and Syria represent an historical sequence of human development from ancient times to the present day. The Department of State remains committed to preserving these countries’ ancient cultures and joins international partners, intergovernmental organizations, and other institutions in advancing efforts to protect and restore this heritage.
On August 4, 2014, the U.S. Department of State and the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) signed a $600,000 cooperative agreement to document comprehensively the current condition of cultural heritage sites in Syria and assess future restoration, preservation, and protection needs. ASOR’s documentation and planning will raise global awareness of the threats to Syria’s cultural heritage and identify immediate or future projects and assistance that can be carried out and provided inside Syria. ASOR’s Syrian Heritage Initiative—Planning for Safeguarding Heritage Sites in Syria is led by five co-directors / co-principal investigators: Scott Branting (ASOR), Jesse Casana (University of Arkansas), Michael Danti (Boston University and ASOR), Abdal-Razzaq Moaz (Indiana University and ASOR), and Andrew Vaughn (ASOR). LeeAnn Barnes Gordon (ASOR) serves as Project Manager for Conservation and Heritage Preservation. The international team also includes more than 30 additional scholars and specialists who will serve as co-investigators, consultants, or advisors. Click here to read more.