In the course of the "Preservation of Cultural Heritage" programme of the European Union, the Damascus Branch of the Orient Department of the German Archaeological Institute, the Institut Français du Proche-Orient (IFPO) and the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) are involved in two joint projects. These are aimed at furthering the skills of Syrian Archaeologists and Architects in techniques of analysis and documentation of architectural monuments and statuary.
The National Museum in Damascus is the largest and most important museum in all of Syria. It presents the cultural history of Syria from the Ancient Near Eastern to the Greek and Roman periods and through to the Islamic period. Furthermore, it houses significant temporary exhibitions of contemporary Art.
The primary aim of this museum-focussed project is to initiate the creation of a substantial catalogue and inventory of the objects kept in the National Museum. A selected group of Syrian archaeologists based at the National Museum in Damascus worked together with German Archaeologists in an attempt to find a system of documentation suitable for this purpose. In the course of this, several different documentation techniques and their respective potentials were tried out on the artefacts exhibited in the "Palmyra Collection". The result was the creation of a database on a "Filemaker" build, compatible with the established ARACHNE-programme of the University of Cologne.
The preliminary result is that all 62 artefacts of the "Palmyra Collection" have been entered systematically into the database. They are documented photographically as well as in text form - the latter in both Arabic and English. Furthermore, 46 artefacts from the stores which had been neglected in terms of research as well as documentation could also be entered systematically. The Syrian partners of the project are continuing the documentation of all objects kept in the Museum at Damascus. Following an initiative of the Syrian Deputy Minister of Culture, this system of training, cataloguing and creation of an inventory - now termed the model "National Museum Damascus" - is to be extended across all museums of Syria as part of a new EU-project.
Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM)
Institut Français du Proche-Orient (IFPO)
European Union (EU)
Training for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Newsletter of the Delegation of the European Commission to Syria, 1/2004, 3 f.