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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Three Syrian Historical Sites Under Threat

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The Syrian conflict has claimed 70,000 lives according to the United Nations. Along with that staggering human toll, Syria’s unique cultural heritage is also being devastated.

Historian Nasser Rabbat was in our studio a few months ago when he reminded us that Syria’s historical heritage is part of our history too.

Syria has two of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities.

It has one of the first known Christian churches. It has castles built by Christian crusaders and the Muslim knights who fought them. And it has ancient tablets that are thought to contain the first known mention of the Biblical Patriarchs.

Nasser returned to our studios to tell us about three sites that are under threat and what they mean:

  1. The Dead Cities: 700 abandoned settlements in Northwest Syria, including the Church of Saint Simeon Stylites, that date back to Roman times.
  2. The Shayzar Citadel: a site that has been traded between kingdoms for over a thousand years. It played a part in the Crusades
  3. The Old City of Aleppo: the historic center of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. It’s the place where, according to legend, Abraham camped to milk his sheep. A fire reportedly burned a large number of shops in the narrow, vaulted passageways of the city’s old bazaar.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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