A Japanese archaeological society is aiming to raise 6 million yen for a conference on the preservation of the Palmyra ruins in Syria, as the World Heritage site is being severely damaged by the group known as Islamic State.
The Palmyra ruins are about 230 kilometers northeast of Syria's capital Damascus. Flourishing from the first century B.C. to the third century A.D., Palmyra still has many well-preserved Roman-era structures such as temples, and was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980. The ruins have been surveyed by numerous archeologists, including researchers from Nara Prefecture and the University of Tsukuba.
At a June general meeting of the Japanese Society for West Asian Archaeology, the society decided to hold a December conference in Beirut, Lebanon, on protecting Syria's cultural assets. They estimate about 6 million yen will be needed to reserve a conference site and cover costs such as attendees' travel expenses. But they are still 2 million yen short.
Society chairman Kiyohide Saito, who has worked at Palmyra, says, "When peace returns to Syria, its cultural assets will act as a form of emotional support."