Focus Raqqa: Inventory of Museum Collections and Reconstruction of Missing Tablets

Olivier Nieuwenhuyse, Khaled Hiatlih, Rasha Hakki, Ayham al-Fakhri, Jouke Verlinden, Karsten Lambers, Katrina Burg-Joosten, Hubert Mara, Dominique Ngan-Tillard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review

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The National Museum of Raqqa in Syria has suffered immensely from the ongoing violence since 2011. Much of its valuable collection of movable archaeological heritage (ca. 6000 items) is considered lost. Starting from 500 of the most precious objects of the museum stored in the Raqqa Central Bank and stolen from there in 2013, the pilot project Focus Raqqa created a concrete, workable database to enable identification by Syrian and international police and heritage institutions. The project made a pivotal first step towards potential reconstruction of the Raqqa Museum in the future. The Raqqa museum collection included cuneiform tablets. Some of the tablets were cast before the war to allow detailed study in Europe. Today the tablets have vanished. The pilot project Scanning for Syria safeguarded information from the lost artefacts by making high-resolution three-dimensional scans of the silicone rubber moulds and subsequently physical replicas of the original objects by 3D printing. The short life expectancy (30 years) of the moulds necessitated measures for long-
term preservation. The Scanning for Syria team not only succeeded at the preservation and sharing of knowledge in the academic circle. It also told the story of Syrian culture and its people to everyone for raising more voices in the united effort to keep cultural heritage safe in a zone of conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCultural Heritage
Subtitle of host publicationat the intersection of the humanities and the sciences
EditorsHani Hayajneh
PublisherLIT Verlag
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-3-643-91252-7
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NameArchäologie: Forschung und Wissenschaft
PublisherLIT Verlag

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Raqqa museum
  • inventory
  • cuneiform
  • digital preservation
  • 3D-printing


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