Preserving Cultural Heritage

Waiting for the Right Moment,” by Ammar Abd Rabbo, was taken in 2007 in Hama, Syria.

In the Byzantine era, enormous water wheels were built on the Orontes River as part of an aqueduct system. In the medieval period, 30 norias were documented; today 17 norias that were built in the Ayyubid period remain in the city of Hama.

Photographer Abd Rabbo writes, “The kids of Hama like to stand on the wheel, get ‘lifted’ with it, and then jump in the waters of the river Orontes. The game is ‘free’ and seems like great fun, especially in the hot summers of Hama.” Abd Rabbo imagines the youngsters of Hama diving from the norias for generations and generations.

Abd Rabbo stresses that historic artifacts are part of everyday life in Syria. “Families would picnic on the grass of Aleppo Citadel, kids would run in ancient mosques,” he wrote in an e-mail. So when fighting began, endangering monuments and manuscripts, Syrians mobilized to protect them by hiding what they could, building walls around the shrine of Zachariah, and educating the revolutionaries about the importance of the archaeological sites. As Shatha Almutawa writes in this issue, the Arab world boasts many cultural artifacts and sites from periods such as prehistory, the Bronze Age, and the Ottoman Empire. Many of these irreplaceable treasures are threatened by revolutions and civil war, but Arabs in and out of the region are working with others on protecting and preserving them.Image courtesy of Ammar Abd Rabbo, all rights reserved. Abd Rabbo’s photography can be found at

Download PDF


Allen Mikaelian, editor
Shantha Almutawa, associate editor
Liz Townsend, coordinator, professional data and job center
Vanessa Varin, associate editor, web and social media
Kelly Elmore, manager, marketing and business operations