What’s at stake in Syria

Satellite images of Aleppo from March 2013 on the left, compared with May 26, 2013
Satellite images of Aleppo from March 2013 on the left, compared with May 26, 2013

Its not just ancient sites and archaeology that are at risk in Syria. The NPR program Fresh Air today featured a terrific interview with a former punk band drummer who was able to capture recordings of some ancient religious chants in Christian and Sufi communities in Syria. He was able to this before the outbreak of the Civil War there. In relating the history of these musical and religious traditions Jason Hamacher gives a sad account of how much is being lost in Syria as the conflict there continues. Here’s one exchange between the host Teri Gross and Jason Hamacher:

GROSS: So you must have a lot of photographs of ancient sites in Syria that have been fully or partially destroyed by the Civil War?

HAMACHER: Correct. The perfect example is, there was a neighborhood called Jdeideh. It’s actually the Armenian quarter of the city. And they had the absolute best restaurants. There were these five, six, seven hundred-year-old mansions that had a covered – the restaurants were set up in these courtyards and the food was just unbelievable. The food from Aleppo has been regarded throughout history as some of the best Middle Eastern food on earth. The Ottoman sultans would actually have their chefs either train in Aleppo or bring someone from Aleppo to learn how to do this amazing cooking.

Almost that entire neighborhood is gone, leveled. There was a place called the Sissi House that was in Jdeideh that I used to eat at all the time. And it was bombed; gone. Like, someone sent me a photo and I couldn’t even – they’re like, do you think this is the Sissi House?

I couldn’t even understand what I was looking at. There’s so much of that.

GROSS: The cathedral that you recorded the ancient version of “The Lord’s Prayer” that we heard, is that cathedral still standing? Was that cathedral affected by the bombing and the shelling in Syria?

HAMACHER: It still stands. It’s riddled with bullet holes. Everything has suffered damage.

The full audio is embedded below the jump.

Before War, A Punk Drummer Preserved Syrian Chants, NPR.org (Aug. 7, 2014), http://www.npr.org/2014/08/07/338586411/before-war-a-punk-drummer-preserved-syrian-chants.

2 thoughts on “What’s at stake in Syria”

  1. It boggles my mind when I read about tragedies like this that normally go unheralded and unabated while the ideologues and bureaucrats of the West fume over the private ownership of something as innocuous as an ancient coin.

  2. I have been looking at many heart breaking images over the past few weeks, very sad to see so much destruction beyond belief. I am an artist and with almost 8 years of art including art history I had learned a lot about the beginnings of art through all the historic culture expressed in all these sites. This is mankind’s life, history no matter where they were built, they are part of who we were and who we are. If we can’t take these places to the future generations then they will never our beginnings.

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