During Syria’s four-year war, a large number of the country’s ancient monuments and artifacts have been destroyed by both ISIS and Syrian bombs targeted at Islamic extremists. For example, in August 2015, ISIS destroyed Palmyra, known as one of the most important cultural centers on the planet. That, however, won’t stop this group of Syrian refugee artists in Jordan (with some support from the United Nations and Internal Relief and Development) from constructing miniature models of Syria’s ancient architecture to salvage memories and artifacts for the Syria History and Civilization project.
Project coordinator Ahmad al-Hariri told Buzzfeed News that “the artifacts that have been destroyed are a loss to the whole world and not only to Syria. The goal is to define the Syrian people, preserve our heritage, and prove Syrian identity, and the most important message is to stop the war.” The monuments often take between 15 days to 3 months to complete, based upon the availability of materials and resources like local stone, polystyrene, discarded wood, volcanic stone and kebab skewers. al-Hariri states that the project is important as many refugee children have never seen their homeland.
To date, the artists have built models of the Nabatean gate and arch at Bosra, the Deir ez-Zor suspension bridge (which spanned the Euphrates River), a statue of famed military and political leader Ayyubid Sultan Saladin, and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, among others. It’s great to see something so inspirational and positive come from such a dire situation and experience.