While the tragic destruction of architectural and archeological treasures by ISIS continues—Iraq's oldest monastery was just discovered to have been ruined—a group of refugees have found their own way to preserve and celebrate the region's cultural threatened heritage. According to a story posted by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and CityLab, Syrian refugees at the Za'atari camp, located across the border in Jordan, have been using the materials they have at hand, such as clay and wooden skewers, to build miniature models of sites such as the ancient city of Palmyra and the Krak des Chevaliers castle in Homs.
"We chose this project to highlight what is happening in Syria, because many of these sites are under threat or have already been destroyed," says project coordinator Ahmad Hariri, from Dara'a, an ancient city in southwestern Syria.
Preservationists around the world have attempted to find ways to protect or preserve these structures, from laser scanning to save virtual models of the buildings to replicating structures such as the arch of Palmyra in cities across the world as a means of raising awareness.
The modest work by this team of Syrian refugees may not have the budget of larger efforts, but the handmade replicas offer perhaps a more poignant tribute to the toll the conflict is taking on the nation's cultural heritage. So far, the work has been showcased at a space in the camp run by UNHCR and a partner agency, International Relief and Development, as well as an exhibition in Amman, Jordan's capital.
"I'm very worried about what is happening," says Mahmoud Hariri, 25, an art teacher and painter participating in the project. "This site represents our history and culture, not just for Syrians but all of humanity. If it is destroyed it can never be rebuilt."
· Photos of the Ancient City of Palmyra, the 'Pearl of the Desert' ISIS is Destroying [Curbed]
· How CyArk's Laser Scanning Preserves Priceless Architecture [Curbed]
· Syrian Ruin Destroyed by ISIS to Be Replicated in NYC [Curbed New York]