Russia to help Syria preserve ancient city of Resafa – Archaeologist

ST. PETERSBURG (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – November 20, 2021) Russia sent a team of rescue archaeologists to Syria to make a digital copy of the ancient city of Resafa, a UNESCO-recognized Syrian heritage site, told Sputnik the main scientist behind the effort.

Resafa was a fortified desert outpost in Roman times before becoming a pilgrimage destination in the 4th century as the legendary resting place of the Roman soldier-turned-Christian saint Sergius.

The walled city, which also served as a fortress, was conquered by the Arabs three centuries later and completely abandoned in the 13th century when the Mongols and Turks invaded the area.

Islamist militants seized Resafa in 2017, and allegedly trapped its massive walls, doors and what is supposed to be St. Sergius Basilica, before Syrian troops claimed it during Raqqa’s offensive.

Natalya Solovyova, director of the Rescue Archeology Center of the Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the center is working in conjunction with the Syrian General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums ( DGAM) to preserve the artefacts of the early Christians.

“Our task is to collect as much data as possible and create a 3D scan,” she said, referring to the Christian-era relics of Resafa in the city. “We plan to assess the damage and the extent of the illegal excavations and pass this information on to the DGAM.”

Solovyova said the St. Petersburg-based center will also send a 3D scan to the United Nations cultural heritage agency, UNESCO. A dozen Christian temples across Syria will be scanned as part of the Russian-Syrian project.

About John A. Provost

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