Satellite Monitoring of Cultural Heritage in Conflict Zones

Dr. Susan Penacho
ASOR CHI investigates and reports on cultural destruction by using high-resolution satellite imagery.

ASOR CHI investigates and reports on cultural destruction by using high-resolution satellite imagery.

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Within the last decade, extremist groups throughout the Middle East have deliberately destroyed hundreds of ancient monuments, mosques, churches, shrines, cemeteries, and other sites in a systematic campaign of cultural cleansing enacted to advance radical ideologies and to achieve more worldly military, political, and economic objectives. Consequently, widespread damage to individual heritage sites and whole urbanscapes like the cities of Raqqa and Aleppo in Syria, Mosul in Iraq, and Benghazi in Libya, has resulted from sustained ground and aerial combat intensified by long-standing ethno-sectarian tensions. These harmful actions threaten our common world heritage and cultural diversity. Through cooperative agreements with the US Department of State, the American Schools of Oriental Research Cultural Heritage Initiatives (ASOR CHI) was formed to address the cultural heritage crisis in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. ASOR CHI investigates and reports on cultural destruction by using high-resolution satellite imagery, information from local stakeholders, media reports, and open source information.

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