Daily VideoMay 20, 2015
Saving Syrian culture under siege
In Syria, war is threatening thousands of years of culture and history.
Over 200,000 people have been killed and nearly 12 million people displaced from their homes in the Syrian conflict stretching back to 2011. In the past year, the Islamic State (ISIL) has swept through the region, destroying hundreds-year-old antiquities and prompting looting at battle sites.
Several groups are working to save these historical artifacts, even under the threat of death by ISIL. To Saeed, a Syrian archaeologist living in Turkey, preserving those antiquities is a responsibility to the public. “Most of the time, I don’t get money. But at the end of the day, I’m a Syrian citizen and it’s my duty,” he said.
The antiquities that are not destroyed often enter a black market where the profits benefit ISIL, according to Dr. Assaad Seif, an archaeologist working to stop trafficking between Syria and Lebanon. Looters who want to sell artifacts must obtain a license from ISIL and give the group up to 50 percent of their profits.
Seif’s team has recovered and restored some of the antiquities. The artifacts are returned to their country of origin, a policy adopted by the UN in 1970.
The fight to save artifacts is about preserving a people’s history, Seif said. “In Syria, they are trying to erase all the memory, all the history of the other…It’s like eradicating the whole past of a community,” he said.
Warm up questions
- Where is Syria?
- What do you know about the war in Syria?
Critical thinking questions
- Why is it important to protect artifacts?
- Why does the Islamic State destroy some artifacts and not others?
- What are the risks of sending back recovered artifacts to where they originally came from?
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Submit Your Student Voice
This Thanksgiving, teach students the importance of storytelling, and most of all, listening. Based on StoryCorp’s The Great Thanksgiving Listen, students will record an interview with an elder relative, hone interview and listening skills and become part of America’s great oral history project. Continue reading
Discuss key election highlights with your students, particularly the impact of the youth vote, with this PBS NewsHour lesson plan. Continue reading
Use this lesson to talk with your students about the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks. Calif. Continue reading
If you were born in 2000, there’s a good chance you will be eligible to vote in the 2018 midterm elections. The PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab’s Mason Berger reports on how organizations in Florida are trying to mobilize young voters around issues like the cost of college and gun violence. Continue reading
Why do young people hold some of the lowest voter turnout levels in the U.S.? Is it really their fault? NewsHour’s teen reporters talk about the youth vote in America and why the 2018 elections could see young people voting in historic numbers. Continue reading