Culture

Local organisation is rehabilitating archaeological sites in Raqqa

Syria

Volunteers, civil society groups and the Raqqa Civilian Council are cooperating to restore the city's archaeological sites.

In the city of Raqqa, northern Syria, a civil society group called the Ro’ya (Vision) Organisation, has been set up by local volunteers and the Raqqa Civil Council to rebuild and rehabilitate the city’s cultural heritage.

The Ro’ya Organisation is working to restore a number of ancient buildings and monuments in the city that were deliberately destroyed during ISIS’ occupation as part of its scorched earth strategy.

“The Vision Organisation, [which is] part of the civil society in the city of Raqqa, is currently trying to rehabilitate the Raqqa archaeological museum,” said Omar Nooh, the Communication Officer at the Ro’ya Organisation. “The museum is one of the most important landmarks in the city and means a lot to us. Other organisations within the civil society are trying to rehabilitate [the] Baghdad Gate, in addition to the Archaeological Fence where the Oxygen Organisation is currently removing the rubble and the remnants of war in the area.”

In the nearby Euphrates Valley, an ancient brick factory that produces its bricks using a method that is thousands of years old, is supplying bricks to the Ro’ya Organisation, as well as other organisations restoring Syria’s heritage. Many of the building materials that were used in the original construction of Raqqa’s ancient buildings and monuments were produced using the resources of the Euphrates Valley.

“Our mission is to protect monuments and reconstruct archaeological sites,” said Yasser al-Abdullah, the Head of the Office of Antiquities and Museums in the Civil Council of Raqqa. “The region has recently emerged from the war [against ISIS] and destruction. With the entry and exit of the armed groups most archaeological sites in the city of Raqqa were affected so we take it upon ourselves to protect such sites, along with civil society organisations.”

The local municipality in the city, known as the Raqqa Civilian Council, has been overseeing reconstruction efforts in the city, as well as coordinating civil society groups that have volunteered to assist in the city’s rehabilitation. Until now, many of the city’s roads have been rebuilt to their pre-ISIS condition and much of the city’s infrastructure, including energy and water supplies, have been restored.