The Prince Claus Fund has awarded financial support to the 'Focus Raqqa project' that has been initiated by Dr. Olivier Nieuwenhuyse and the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM). This project aims at digitally reconstructing the inventory of the looted Museum in Raqqa, Syria, with the (analogue) information that is scattered among a number of research institutes in Europe. Together with the DGAM the Centre for Global Heritage and Development and the Section Archaeology of the Near East (Leiden University) will organize the kick off of this project in spring 2017.
The National Museum of Raqqa has suffered immensely from the ongoing violence since 2011. Much of its valuable collection of movable archaeological heritage (ca. 6000 items) is considered lost. No detailed inventory meeting international standards for object identification currently exists to facilitate future identification of stolen objects should they appear on the antiquities market. Starting as a pilot with ca. 500 of the most precious objects of the museum stored in the Raqqa Central Bank and stolen from there in 2013, this project aims to create a concrete, workable database to enable identification by Syrian and international police and heritage institutions. This is a pivotal first step towards potential reconstruction of the Raqqa Museum in the future. The project shall elaborate on pioneering work already done by the DGAM and the Freie Universität Berlin. Additional goals include writing a sound, detailed damage assessment of the recent history of the museum and its collection, training members of the DGAM in database management, setting up a website on the museum, and promoting the Raqqa Museum amongst the Dutch and international non-academic public.