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The citadel of Aleppo, Syria

A series of excavations were held on the citadel of Aleppo, Syria, from 1996 to 2011 by the Museum für Islamische Kunst, the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW Berlin, Prof. Dr. Kay Kohlmeyer), and the Syrian Directorate of Antiquities and Museums.

This citadel is one of the largest medieval fortified palaces in the entire Middle East. In ancient Near Eastern history, the citadel hill served as an acropolis and was the site of the then widely famous temple of the weather god. The Syrian-German excavations aim to explore both the ancient Near Eastern and Islamic history of the site.

The Museum für Islamische Kunst is involved in investigating the Islamic-era citadel and studying the Islamic finds from the digs. Research into the Islamic medieval citadel (which largely ranges in date from the 11th to 16th century) is divided into several sub-projects, including analysis of historical structures (fortifications and living quarters within the citadel, castle surveys in the region), art-historical studies, and historical analysis. Concurrent to this, the archaeological finds (metal, glass, ceramics, architectural ornament, coins, inscriptions) are also evaluated. The quality and quantity of the finds make them unique in the region and of great historical importance, as they provide clues to questions about the usage of the site, the role it played in trade, its hierarchies, artistic and artisan techniques, and the evolution of artistic styles and practices.

Due to the current political situation in Syria, current field research on the site has been halted and the team of scholars are presently concentrating on processing, assessing, and publishing the findings attained thus far. A large workshop on Aleppo is planned to take place in Berlin in 2013.

Partners: Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW) Berlin; Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums, Damascus
Contact: Dr. Julia Gonnella, curator at the Museum für Islamische Kunst
Funding: Gerda Henkel Stiftung, Düsseldorf; Fondation Max van Berchem, Geneva; DFG German Research Foundation, Bonn; World Monuments Fund, New York 
Duration: 1996 to 2013