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Cheikhmous Ali

Université de Strasbourg
Syrian heritage: what to do with ancient objects removed from their context?
01 September 2016 -
30 June 2017

Cheikhmous Ali is an archaeologist and specialist in the architecture of the ancient Near East. He has participated in several excavation campaigns in Syria and was co-researcher on the project ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives: Planning for Safeguarding Heritage Sites in Syria. In the Association for the protection of Syrian archaeology, he gathers evidence of the destruction of the Syrian archaeological heritage.

Research interests

Archaeology of the Middle East; Iconography; Ancient religions; Ziggurats and temples of ancient Mesopotamia.

Syrian heritage: what to do with ancient objects removed from their context?

Since the second half of 2011, many Syrian archaeological sites (Apamée, Palmyra, Mari, Doura Europos, Ebla…) and museums (Hama, Ma’ret el-Nou’man, Raqqah…) have fallen victim to destruction and pillaging. Tens of thousands of looted objects are now flooding the antiquities markets.
The goal of this research project is first of all to make an inventory of the major looted archaeological sites and the objects that come from them and that have been deprived of their history and their context. The visual documentation of the items that have been scattered among traffickers of antiquities will be assembled in a database for evaluation and study. The results of this research will immediately be made available to archaeologists and the authorities who are combating the illegal trade in antiques. The goal is to establish a reference database that can testify to the origin of these objects when they appear on the antiques market in the future.

Key publications

Représentations architecturales dans la glyptique du Proche-Orient ancien au IVe et IIIe millénaires av. n. è., Brepols (à paraître).

« L’art de la restitution architecturale : Du plan à l’élévation – l’apport de l’iconographie », in Philippe Quenet (éd.), Ana ziqquratim : Sur la piste de Babel, Strasbourg, Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2016, pp. 57-61

« Syrian Museums under Threat: an Overview », avec Martin Makinson et Philippe Quenec, in R.A. Stucky, O. Kaelin et H.-P. Mathys (éd.), Proceedings of the 9th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (9–13 June 2014, Basel). Volume 1. Travelling Images – Transfer and Transformation of Visual Ideas. Dealing with the Past: Finds, Booty, Gifts, Spoils, Heirlooms. Collections at Risk: Sustainable Strategies for Managing Near Eastern Archaeological Collections, Wiesbaden, pp. 477-492.

« Syrian Heritage under Threat », in Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies, vol. 1, n° 4, 2013, pp. 350-365.


Conference organized by C. Gonçalves (2016-2017 Paris IAS fellow), C. Michel (ArScAn) and C. Ali (2016-2017 Paris IAS fellow)
25 Jun 2018 09:00 -
26 Jun 2018 17:00,
Paris :
The Old Babylonian Diyala: Research since the 1930s and Prospects
Conference organized by A. Moaz (2017-2018 Paris IAS fellow), with the support of the Gerda Henkel Foundation
06 Feb 2018 14:30 -
07 Feb 2018 19:00,
Paris :
Destroying Cultural Heritage in Syria - 2011-2017
13 May 2017 19:30 -
13 May 2017 21:00,
Alexandrie :
Protecting Cultural Heritage Under Armed Conflicts
06 Feb 2017 18:00 -
06 Feb 2017 19:00,
Strasbourg :
Le sud de la Mésopotamie et son arrière-pays rural : l’urbanisation de la région d’al-Ahwar et les échanges avec les centres urbains au IVe millénaire avant notre ère
05 Dec 2016 10:00 -
13 Dec 2016 18:00,
Erbil :
Stage de formation : la protection du patrimoine syrien, de l’environnement et des enfants
25 Nov 2016 14:00 -
25 Nov 2016 16:00,
Nanterre :
L'urbanisation des marais de la Basse Mésopotamie (IV millénaire av. n. è.)
North Africa, Middle East