Syria's struggle to save the past

20 Jul 2015 5:24 PM | Anonymous

Syria's struggle to save the past

By Ben Wedeman, CNN

(CNN)It all began in his pizzeria in Spain. That's where Syrian archaeologist Isber Sabrine was able to scrape together enough money to launch his group, Heritage for Peace.

A 29-year-old archaeologist from the hilltop town of Safita, in western Syria, Sabrine is using modern technology to trace and document the looting and destruction of his country's ancient heritage.

Working from an office in Berlin, he runs a network in Syria of around 150 volunteers -- archaeologists, architects, students and simply concerned citizens -- who often pose as antiquities buyers to see what has been stolen in the course of Syria's now more than four-year uprising. He communicates with them via Skype when the Internet in Syria is working, which isn't often.

"They go to the locals and they say look, we are interested. They cannot buy, but at least they make photos and they send us photos," says Sabrine. "Like this we have a list of looted materials from Syria."