Syria: Ancient History – Modern Conflict

Andrew Jamieson

In this lecture Andrew Jamieson discusses the exhibition Syria: Ancient History – Modern Conflict held in the Ian Potter Museum of Art’s Classics and Archaeology Gallery at the University of Melbourne. He explores three decades of fieldwork conducted in the middle and upper Euphrates River valley, which ceased in the region in 2010 as a result of the conflict in Syria. In some cases, artefacts uncovered by the researchers stored on site have been lost or destroyed. The whereabouts of other objects transferred to the Aleppo museum before the war remains unknown.

Syria: Ancient History – Modern Conflict seeked to illustrate the key archaeological findings of the Australian research projects in Syria. The exhibition draw attention to the current Syrian conflict and the destruction of cultural heritage, most notably at Palmyra.

Andrew also discusses his involvement with SHIRĪN, an initiative established in 2014 which brings together a significant proportion of the international Near Eastern archaeological research community that was active in Syria prior to 2011, with the purpose of making their expertise and experience available to wider heritage protection efforts. By monitoring the destruction, producing damage assessments reports, evaluating the provenience of illicitly excavated or purchased artefacts, and creating a comprehensive database of sites and artefacts, SHIRĪN is providing some clarity in the chaos of the Syrian conflict.


Andrew Jamieson is senior lecturer in Near Eastern Archaeology in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. He has extensive archaeological field experience and has worked at sites in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Australia. In the mid-1990s he was deeply involved in the UNESCO post-war salvage operations in Beirut. In 2015 Andrew won the Barbara Falk Award for Teaching Excellence.

Since 2005, Andrew has curated over 20 exhibitions in the Classics and Archaeology Gallery at the Ian Potter Museum of Art. In 2014 Andrew was invited to represent Australia on the SHIRĪN International Committee, a Research Initiative for the Safeguarding and Protection of Syrian Heritage.

This lecture was part of the History, Culture & Collections 2017 lecture series held at Melbourne Museum.

Check out our latest series, Museum Lectures.

Connect with Museums Victoria

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest news about our exhibitions, special events, programs and offers.