Focus Raqqa Project 2022

Taking stock - looking to the future


"Focus Raqqa Project " and "Heritage Roots " work together to propose a cluster of relatively small, closely integrated projects focusing on societal rebuilding in Raqqa through safeguarding its archaeological-historical heritage. Our work aims to create jobs locally, support local civic organizations in rebuilding the social fabric of their city, and strengthen a sense of a shared past (and a shared future) for communities recently devastated by ethnic and religious conflict. We aim to safeguard archaeological heritage precious to Syrians and international archaeologists and combat the illicit international trafficking of stolen artifacts. We propose to work both within the city itself, through our established local network, and in other countries in Europe and USA, Our project explicitly looks beyond the abyss, towards the future.




Surprisingly, considering the ideological significance of Raqqa as a former Daesh capital, its unique archaeological heritage, and the urgency to prevent further collapse, international initiatives to safeguard heritage and reconstruct the city's cultural fabric have so far been limited. 
We were able to monitor the operational initiatives in Raqqa and we have good contact with most of them to evaluate the works and give advice. These successful initial initiatives took critical first steps, gained tangible results, and laid out workable procedures for further work. 


Focus Raqqa 2022 

The project will continue our efforts back from 2017 when we started the first pilot project, we collected now all the needed data and records, plus the inventories and picture collections made from 2008, 2012, and 2014. The primary significant step toward the future is to extend the pilot project and work to cover the whole museum collection and complete the works of the database.
The results will be published and shared with our partners and other law enforcement to help to prevent the international illegal trade of cultural property.




Our professional and dedicated team is the most related to the museum collection and were the last members who back and cover the collection before the last and big invasion of the museum, the work will be a work of memory and records since they did that before at the museum.



Raqqa Collection Provenance Map


Background: After the liberation
The liberation of the city of Raqqa from the so-called Islamic State (IS, or Daesh) in 2017 has left its urban fabric a desolate ruin, its population scattered, impoverished, and desperate. For Raqawi, the citizens of Raqqa, relief, and renewed optimism vie with cynicism and bitterness. The collapse of societal infrastructure including schools, cultural institutions, and civic organizations means that a partly orphaned, traumatized, poorly educated generation faces an uncertain future.  The war has brought unprecedented destruction to historical and archaeological heritage, as collateral damage in urban warfare, because of subsistence looting, purposeful, ideologically inspired cultural cleansing, or simply through abandonment and neglect. In the city, archaeological monuments, the Raqqa Museum, and its depots (the Heraqla storage facility) are severely damaged or destroyed, contributing to a distinct loss of a collective identity. To the world at large, and many Syrians, Raqqa is now mainly known as the ‘City of Evil”, but this black image ignores the rich history of the city, going back to Neolithic times.