CyArk, a Non-Profit Organization Dedicated to the Preservation of World Heritage, Releases an Update on the Systematic Destruction of World Heritage Sites

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ISIS Activity Shines a Bright Light on the Systematic Destruction of our Culture

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The term “Cultural Genocide” is now being coined as the term to describe this intentional destruction of our world’s culture.

Symbols of our heritage and culture worldwide are being destroyed by climate, earthquakes and time, but in recent years, the most destructive force has been man. Monuments and memorials in Iraq and Syria and many other countries worldwide, the symbols of ancient cultures, are being destroyed at an alarming rate with the sole intention of destroying the culture of current and past civilizations.

CyArk is a non-profit organization dedicated to digitally preserving these sites. CyArk has released an update on this destruction.

The world is getting its first true glimpse of the intentional and systematic destruction of our culture by the ravages of war in the Mideast. Recently, the ancient Roman city of Palmyra in Syria was liberated from ISIS occupation. Experts are assessing the damage to this key Roman city despite recent counter advances by ISIS just outside of Palmyra. Like many other cities, monuments and memorials in Iraq and Syria and other countries worldwide, the symbols of ancient cultures are bring destroyed at an alarming rate.

Sights destroyed or targeted for destruction in Iraq and Syria, including Palmyra, Hatra, Ninevah and Nimrud, are valued global treasures and directly affect the livelihood of many people in those poor countries who’s formerly supported their families from tourists visiting these ancient sights. Thus, destruction is not just physical stone and mortar, it has economic consequences to the poorest of the poor.

The term “Cultural Genocide” is now being coined as the term to describe this intentional destruction of our world’s culture.

Destruction of physical sites also affects the thread of our culture, religion and national pride. One can only consider the destruction of our monuments and memorials such as the Stature of Liberty or the Washington Monument. This type of destruction is happening almost daily in the Mideast and Africa due to war.

What can be done?

Initial steps such as intercountry cooperation and UNESCO protection is a start. Other efforts are being led by foundations and non-profit organizations dedicated to the preservation of the world’s heritage.

Following the liberation of Palmyra, Vladimir Putin and Irina Bokova began a dialogue to jointly assess the damage and further protection of Palmyra’s ancient sites. World organizations are mobilizing to record and preserve these sites before they are destroyed.

Additionally, organizations such as CyArk, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the world’s heritage and culture, have made progress in digital preservation on many global sites allowing for the restoration of the sites not only destroyed in the Mideast but worldwide.

Project Anqa (meaning “a bird that rises from the ashes” in Arabic) led by CyArk is dedicated to the preservation of remaining sites in Syria, Iraq and other Mideast countries so that these countries will have an opportunity to preserve and rebuild their culture and economy after the wars end.

CyArk has already preserved over 200 sites in 42 countries and is actively working to digitally preserve multiple high risk sites on the fringes of active conflict zones lest they too become a target. CyArk has previously collaborated with UNESCO’s Emergency Safeguarding of Syrian Cultural Heritage Project.

“We are losing our heritage sites and the stories they tell faster than we, the human race, can physically preserve them. If we don’t know where we came from and don’t know our history, then who are we?” says Ben Kacyra, Founding President of CyArk.

“We refuse to be bystanders in this tragic culture and heritage crisis,” says CyArk CEO, Michael Evans “We have the technology available to record these sites and digitally safeguard them so that our history is not lost, but time is running out and we need the public’s help to save them. Everyone can do something to help address this crisis. People can help sponsor a project site by donating whatever they can”. For more information on how the public can help, call +1 (510) 832-5440 or visit today.

Download the CyArk Newsletter here

In June 2015, CyArk initiated Project Anqa in partnership with the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and Yale University’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage. In January 2016, CyArk began working with groups of Middle Eastern heritage professionals, to train them on methods and technologies relevant to digital preservation.

CyArk is an international nonprofit organization that uses 3D laser scanning, photogrammetry, and traditional survey techniques to create an online, 3D library of the world’s cultural heritage sites before they are lost to natural disasters, destroyed by human aggression, or ravaged by the passage of time. CyArk was founded to ensure that the world’s collective heritage is available to future generations, while also making it uniquely accessible today. To date over 200 sites spanning all seven continents have been digitally preserved. For more information visit or contact Makenna Murray at makenna.murray(at)

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Makenna Murray
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