Facades gutted, houses sprayed, buildings devastated. One of the oldest cities in the world, Aleppo is dying, ravaged by the war in Syria. But in Germany, academics have had the idea to prepare for the reconstruction of the old city, classified as world heritage of Humanity. The team of researchers at syrian German held around the Syrian Heritage Archive Project was analyzed in the microscope images of the damaged buildings of the former economic capital of Syria, comparing them to the archives prior to 2011. This work, funded in part by German diplomacy, has enabled the catalogue in digital format, the plethora of historic buildings destroyed but also those who remained miraculously intact.

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The photographs, slides and plans from before the war, constitute a valuable help to consider a faithful reconstruction of the monuments of the old town, declared a Unesco world heritage site since 1986. And these archives, combined with the clichés of contemporary of the desolate city, are presented to the public from 28 February to 26 may at the museum of islamic art in Berlin, a dependency of the famous Pergamon museum.

refugees From syria have been recruited as guides to collect the testimonies of his countrymen, hundreds of thousands of them who found refuge in Germany since 2015. “For over 100 years, our museum has a special connection with Syria,” explained Stefan Weber. The Room of Aleppo , the former dining room of a wealthy merchant, dating to the early Seventeenth century, is also a centerpiece of the permanent exhibition. “This project intends to preserve the past and also a vision of the future: collecting archives for the reconstruction can be carried out quickly,” says this graduate in modern Arabic of the university of Damascus.

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Germany has experience in this field. Exit wiped out from the nazis, it has a rich experience of the reconstruction. And after the Reunification, the number of cities of the GDR, including East Berlin and Dresden, have also been renovations of magnitude. Stefan Weber knows it will take time before you see Aleppo reborn and that “it will be up to Syrians themselves to decide what they consider to be their cultural heritage with what we put at your disposal.”

refugees collect testimonials

The museum in berlin is not alone in his project, other agencies participating in its database, such as the university of Cottbus, which has made a card careful of the old city of Aleppo, where the French start-up that has recreated in 3D the major sites in syria.

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The site is colossal. The war has left more than 350,000 dead and caused destruction estimated by the united nations at about 400 billion ($345 billion). The level of the economy is income three decades back, according to experts. The project of the museum in berlin does not Aleppo. The 300,000 scanned documents also include the “dead cities”, the ancient villages of Northern Syria, as well as Raqqa or Palmyra.

Reconstruction of the mosque of the Umayyads

On the ground, more than two years after their re-conquest by the power of Bashar al-Assad, the former neighbourhoods, the rebels of Aleppo, the second city of the country, remain largely in a state of ruins. Reconstruction initiatives are mainly carried out by individuals, the authorities are focusing on infrastructure. The Alépins then live with the risk of seeing their homes crumble. As the February 2, 2019, when a building damaged by years of fighting collapsed, killing eleven victims including four children.

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the efforts of The museum in berlin have led to first results for a building is highly symbolic: the mosque of the Umayyads. “The museum has already sent a file last year to the Unesco, which had sent the items to the syrian authorities”, explains Karin Pütt, a historian of the project, adding it does not have “direct contact with the power in place, just with scientists”.

These documents have been used to prepare the reconstruction of the most famous mosques in syria and one of the oldest in the world. The work for the rebuilding of the minaret, a masterpiece of islamic art was destroyed in April 2013, began in August.