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The intricate stonework wall you see in the traditional Arab courtyard home (bayt ‘arabi) known as Bayt al-‘Aqqad dates to the Mamluk period in Syria: that is, between the middle of the 13th and the beginning of the 16th centuries! This wall dates to the mid-1400s .. and was used as the backboard for a basketball court in a school housed in this ancient but severely dilapidated building. It was renovated and converted into the Danish Institute in Damascus. Scores of other homes have been “saved” by turning them into restaurants, cafes, and art galleries … or, rarely, private homes. There’s a certain nostalgia for the Old City and a lot of resources have been poured into reviving it, some locally raised, others from international agencies such as UNESCO.

There is a long tradition of international intervention to save architectural masterpieces, museums, walls, and so on in Syria.
Recent history indicates that there is more interest on the part of international agencies and actors in stones than in people (Angelina Jolie excepted).

Ma’lish. Syrians are used to hypocrisy at home, and are getting used to our hypocrisy as well. Priorities! Save the whales! Save the walls! Oops, look the other way, those are nasty pictures of maimed bodies. Don’t want to see that…

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