Travelling – Archaeology – Reflections

Travelling and archaeology are inseparable. Whoever wants to experience ancient monuments in their archaeological and environmental context has to visit the site by him-/herself and memorize the impressions.

This is why academic travelling is part of the archaeological training, and the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) has been awarding travel grants to particularly talented young academics since 1859. Worldwide travel without restrictions remains an ideal for archaeologists. With the ongoing corona virus pandemic, we are currently experiencing a completely new dimension of travel restrictions. Against this background, the picture series “1999 Syria – Memories of Syria” is an attempt to convey some travel impressions of Syria – impressions that we will not be able to gather for an indefinite period of time.

For sure, pictures cannot replace a personal visit and intrinsic experiences. However, by combining the images with basic information, comments and stories by a variety of narrators and observers, the picture series opens up a wide range of perceptions. The publication presents images that a DAI travel grant holder took in 1999 while visiting sites and cities in Syria. The basic information accompanying the pictures is taken from the traveller’s notes and has been revised only slightly. The comments by Syrian archaeologists, architects and heritage conservators were gathered in 2020 in the course of the project “Stewards of Cultural Heritage”. As part of the Archaeological Heritage Network initiative “Stunde Null”, this project was supported by the Gerda Henkel Foundation and directed by the Istanbul Department of the German Archaeological Institute.

We invite you to join the Syrian archaeologists, architects and heritage conservators commenting on the images and sharing their immediate memories and thoughts. They take us on a journey through Syria’s past and present.

Felix Pirson