We are pleased to award the Syrian Stonemasonry Training Scheme project £536,671
This project will provide a group of Syrian and Jordanian trainees with traditional stonemasonry skills that can be used to repair conflict-affected heritage buildings.
The project aims to address a pre-existing expertise deficit in the region and put the skills in place to repair heritage when peace comes to Syria. Trainees will be drawn from near the Syria - Jordan border and there will be a focus on recruiting Syrian refugees.
Traditional Stonemasonry skills in Syria
Once a highly-valued form of heritage in the region, stonemasonry has become scarce in recent years. This situation is particularly acute in Syria, where the skill was already in short supply before the start of the civil war. Since then, the on-going conflict has meant that the majority of Syrian stonemasons have been displaced. When peace returns to Syria, there will be a desperate need to reintroduce these skills in order to prevent the destruction of stone-built heritage across the country.
There is a wealth of stone-built heritage in southern Syria, including two endangered UNESCO world heritage sites, Bosra and Damascus Old City. The latter in particular will require stonemasonry skills to repair, as will a range of other significant sites in this region that have been damaged by the conflict (e.g the ancient city of Daraa, on the border with Jordan, and the Lady of Saidnaya Monastery).
Investing in skills to rebuild a nation
In this project, a group of Syrian and Jordanian students, including a significant proportion of Syrian refugees, will be trained on a 42 week vocational course focussing on a range of topics relevant to traditional stonemasonry. This will include: practical and ornamental stone cutting; masonry technology and theory; stabilisation of masonry ruins; conservation science; and the geometry and history of architecture.
Graduates from the programme will receive an accredited diploma upon completion, with the view to facilitate an easy entrance into the heritage workforce. If re-entry into Syria is not possible, entry into the heritage workplace in Jordan or the surrounding areas will also bolster the availability of needed skills.
Alongside the training programme, WMF Britain will work with the Petra National Trust to deliver a set of public engagement workshops. These workshops will be aimed at Jordanian and refugee children, who will learn about the importance of their heritage and how the project training will improve the situation in Syria and Jordan.