Syrian Heritage Archive Project (SHAP)

The systematic archiving of photos, plans, maps and reports is of fundamental importance for the documentation of Syrian cultural and natural treasures. The research carried out since the 20th century by the Museum für Islamische Kunst in Berlin, the German Archeological Institute (DAI), and by other researchers has yielded copious materials in relation to numerous sites of significance for archaeology in Syria and the history of Syria’s architecture. These materials are digitized by the Syrian Heritage Archive Project and, along with other born digital materials, integrated into an image database. The digital archive provides an information base enabling the reconstruction of destroyed monuments and the preservation of Syrian cultural heritage. It thus creates values for the future.

Since the start of the project in 2013, the archive has received more than 270,000 items, primarily photographs from more than 80 collectors from around the world. Their georeferencing - the exact geographic location of a photograph, a plan or other object - plays a decisive role in the archiving process. In the course of the project, more than 4000 new locations were added to the virtual map of Syria (DAI Gazetteer) and linked to the elements of our database ( More than 115,000 digitized items are available to registered users, but even without registration, 3500 elements and their metadata can already be viewed. Almost all areas of Syrian archaeology and building history, its geography, culture and last but not least contemporary histories are illuminated by these data.

Authors of these collections include eminent researchers such as Eugen Wirth (†), Michael Meinecke (†), Jean-Claude David, Stefan Weber, Julia Gonnella and Stefan Heidemann as well as Syrian architects and well-known photographers such as Marwan Musalmani (†), director Sabah Qabbani (†). Collections of historical postcards of Wolf-Dieter Lemke belong also to the digital treatures.

We provide an insight into the richness of Syrian cultural heritage on our website Along with the Facebook page "Narratives of Syrian Heritage" this website is filled with extraordinary content together with the “Interactive Heritage Map of Syria” of the Museum for Islamic Art in Berlin.

The Syrian Heritage Archive Project belongs to the Archaeological Heritage Network and cooperates with Stunde Null – A Future for the Time after the Crisis. The Syrian Heritage Archive Project has given rise, among other things, to the project Multaka: Museum as Meeting-Point.

Project director: Dr. Anne Mollenhauer
Research Associates: Rami Alafandi, Dr. Hiba Bizreh, Eva Al-Habib Nmeir, Alaa Haddad, Issam Hajjar, Dr. Karin Pütt
Partner organisations: Museum für Islamische Kunst Berlin, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut
Responsible bodies: Freunde des Museums für Islamische Kunst im Pergamonmuseum e.V.
Sponsor organisations: Federal Foreign Office, Gerda Henkel Stiftung
In operation: Since November 2013