1st shirīn Belgium Meeting — Brussels — 06/12/2014
On the 6th of December 2014, the first meeting of the new s h i r ī n Belgium took place in Brussels. Several members from various Belgian institutions and research centres working in Syria were present: Joachim Bretschneider (Universiteit Gent), Arlette and Guy Bunnens, Laurent Colonna d’Istria and Önhan Tunca (Université de Liège) Marc Lebeau and Marie-Eve Sténuit (ECUMS), Véronique Van der Stede (Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire) and Agnès Vokaer (Université libre de Bruxelles).
s h i r ī n International association was created in summer 2014, bringing together the skills and knowledge of international archaeologists and scholars working in related fields, all willing to act for the protection of the Syrian heritage. The aims of s h i r ī n International are multiple: to provide expertise on looted sites or illicit traffic of antiquities; to act as experts by suggesting actions and priorities in front of the international, well funded bodies, as well as to create a data bank including “damage forms” in order to document and update the situation site by site or museum by museum.
Since the creation of s h i r ī n International, two s h i r ī n national associations were initiated, in Australia and in France. Following this, it was decided to create a s h i r ī n Belgium , steered by Agnès Vokaer, seconded by Véronique Van der Stede, Laurent Colonna d’Istria and Joachim Bretschneider. The Belgian committee will be extended to other scholars working in Syria, philologists, historians, art historians, architects, and any competent person who might be interested to join the association.
Like s h i r ī n International, s h i r ī n Belgium will remain totally independent and will only be funded by personal or institutional affiliation or donations.
The first concrete actions taken by the Belgian committee will consist in elaborating damage forms for the sites excavated by Syro-Belgian missions (Apamea stands among the most looted archaeological sites in Syria). Contacts were already taken by s h i r ī n International with Sotheby’s and it is planned also to inform other European antiquarians. s h i r ī n Belgium will address Belgian antiquarians.