It is with profound sadness that ICCROM and the international professional community have received the news of the death of an outstanding Syrian archaeologist and heritage specialist, Mr Khalid Al-Asa’ad.
Over his 50 years of working in the field, researching and managing the World Heritage Site of Palmyra, Al-Asa’ad collaborated with many international archaeological expeditions on projects concerning the ruins of Palmyra, including teams from France, Germany, Switzerland and the USA. From the time he learned the Aramaic-Palmyrene language in the 1980s until his retirement in the last decade, Al-Asa’ad has been a source of inspiration. A large part of what is known today about Palmyra comes from his hard work and dedication. He became a pillar in the development of heritage protection and management in Syria.
ICCROM benefited from his knowledge and love for culture in the framework of its ICCROM-ATHAR Programme in 2005, when he offered his expertise to the participants of a workshop on heritage site management in Syria. His contributions to the field of heritage at international and regional levels make his legacy important to this day. Al-Asa’ad was a proud custodian and a passionate advocate for heritage protection. Until the very end he defended Palmyra’s treasures, at the cost of his life.
The past several years have been marked by war and conflicts that affect communities with incredible violence and systematic destruction of cultural heritage. The devotion of Al-Asa’ad will remain as a guide for our efforts and actions, in solidarity with professionals on the ground who put their lives at risk in defence of the cultural heritage of all humanity.
Mr Al Asa’ad was a good colleague and friend to many in the heritage community, and he will be greatly missed.
ICCROM expresses its condolences to his family, to his colleagues at the Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums, and to all his friends in the heritage community worldwide.
Stefano De Caro