An initiative launched by Syrians for Heritage Association (SIMAT) in cooperation with the Idlib Antiquities Center to convey the current reality of the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria * within Aleppo and Idlib governorates and shed the light on the changes occurred in this region over the last years, especially the years of conflict.

This initiative is an open call to all those interested in heritage, whether residing in Syria or abroad in order to share with us the past of this important region and work together to document its present and shed the light on its authenticity and highlight its aesthetics. It also aims to enrich the photographic content of the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria region and give the opportunity for those interested to participate in enhancing the image of the tangible Syrian heritage and reconnect with it.

Initiative Concept:

Participants who are interested should send their old or new photos (if available) for the ruins and antiquities of the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria. SIMAT team will take the same shots, but at the present time so that everyone can see the current condition of the sites’ and the changes that have occurred.

An online catalog that includes all the photos with the names of participants and information about the target area will be produced and given the impact of the current situation of Corona virus, the aim in future will be to organize an open exhibition in Syria and in some of the Syrian diaspora countries where SIMAT association operates.

Initiative Rules and Submission:

–     All interested people in the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria Heritage are encouraged to participate, including experts, researchers and students.

–     Colored and Black and White photos are accepted.

–     Photographs that have any added text, such as the participant name or date or an organization that the participant belongs to won’t be accepted.

–     Photographs editing isn’t preferable. Major re-touching or assembling elements into the photo will result in disqualification.

–     SIMAT Team shall be entitled to reject any image that does not comply with the previous rules and conditions, or the initiative concept.

–     Syrians for Heritage Association (SIMAT), as the body responsible for the initiative, has the right to use the photographs presented first in any event or publicity for activities while preserving the intellectual rights of the photographer by typing his name below the photo.

–     Photographs with no reference/source or copy right details or ownership justification won’t be accepted.

–     The photographer’s participation includes an implicit acknowledgment that the photo is his/her own or that he/she has the right (in a form of a written letter from the photo owners) to participate in this initiative, it also includes his/her acknowledgement to use the photo in printing and distribution in the different exhibitions and electronic pages, and that he/she solely responsible for any dispute that might occur if otherwise was proven.

–     Photos include a famous person or people won’t be accepted.

–     The participation is an acknowledgment by the photographer/participant of his/her full understanding and approval of all the aforementioned rules and conditions..

Initiative Timeline:

–     Participants should enclose with the submission: their full name (First, middle and last name) in Arabic and English, mobile number, email address and a caption for the photograph that might include (Location, date of photo, ownership details, etc.).

–     Submissions deadline: 15th of August 2020, under “Between Yesterday and Today” on this email address:

–     Announcement of the accepted entries: 31st of August 2020, on SIMAT’s website and social media accounts.

–     Launching the online catalog: the end of September 2020, on SIMAT’s website and social media accounts.

The Ancient Villages of Northern Syria:

* The Ancient Villages in the Limestone Massif are a group of archaeological sites located in the North-Western Syria, which are spread over the governorates of Aleppo and Idlib, and include more than 780 sites. These archeological ancient villages were built between the 1st to 7th centuries A.D., and then faced a decline in population since the beginning of the 8th century A.D and by the 10th century A.D they became almost empty. They were most distinguished by the preserved architectural features and surrounding agricultural ancient field system.

The cultural extension of some of these sites was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2011 due to its richness of many archaeological sites dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods because they provide through their numerous architectural ruins the outstanding value of the Eastern Christian world and they helped in understanding the classical methods of using agricultural lands and they show the exceptional way of the development of a rich agricultural culture that once existed.

Forty ancient villages of the total sites are distributed over eight complexes/parks and were designated as a World Heritage Site, three of which are located in the Northern chain of Mount Simeon in Aleppo Governorate, while the remaining five are located in the other mountains to the South and West of Mount Simeon within Idlib Governorate.

The villages feature remarkably well preserved architectural ruins of dwellings, pagan temples, churches, cisterns, bathhouses etc. The relics of the villages’ cultural landscape also constitutes an important demonstration of the transition from the ancient pagan world of the Roman Empire to Byzantine Christianity. The archeological remains illustrating hydraulic techniques, protective walls and Roman agricultural ancient field system present a testimony to the inhabitants’ mastery of agricultural production.

Click to access Catalog.pdf


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