The Interactive Heritage Map of Syria Project seeks to document intangible aspects of heritage by shedding light on the people who create their heritage. It aims to present cultural expressions, orally-transmitted traditional knowledge and personal memories from Syria with a holistic approach that links material and immaterial heritage perspectives.

Heritage is all of us.
Photo from one of the project’s workshops. © Museum für Islamische Kunst

The project is responsible for developing this interactive platform that presents the work of the Syrian Heritage Initiatives at the museum and invites participants to take part in the collection and preservation work of Syrian heritage through different outreach activities. The platform allows visitors to learn more about Syrian heritage, share their own opinion, in addition to accessing an extract of the extensive database of the Syrian Heritage Archive in the gallery and geographical data on the interactive map page.

Currently, the team of the Interactive Heritage Map of Syria project is focusing on handcrafts such as the craft of ‘Ajami (painted polychrome wooden panels), traditional Syrian textiles and Syrian music by using participatory methods. In parallel, the project is working with community archivists on several oral history projects presenting diverse narratives of cultural expressions and traditions of its people.

Decorated wooden panels of the Ajami-clad Aleppo Room, Museum for Islamic Art, Berlin (1601-1603).

In order to create a meaningful discussion on cultural heritage, the Interactive Heritage Map of Syria uses different outreach methods, including thematic workshops concerning cultural memory and creative expression, and through a powerful presence in the virtual space with online campaigns and activities on Facebook.

With the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation it thus becomes possible to translate the results of archival work into a participatory map. People from Syria can embed their knowledge and their experiential repertoires in the cultural heritage map. Visit our map.

In this page:


2. Our Methodology

3. Workshops

4. How to participate


Interactive Heritage Map of Syria
Museum für Islamische Kunst
Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 6
10117 Berlin

Phone: +49 30 266 422294
Mail: map(at)

Follow us: Facebook

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Our Methodology

Our project´s work is based on three cornerstones:  

Telling Stories:

We are collecting personal narratives on the material of the Syrian Heritage Archive and material chosen from our digital community.

The focus here is on people.

Generating knowledge:

We are mobilizing a network of specialists and practitioners to document and present knowledge about intangible heritage. Our content varies and includes interviews, scientific research and personal stories that together create a mosaic of narratives each contributing an important puzzle piece.

Digital Participation and Presentation:

Our work is underpinned by participatory approaches in oder to allow everyone to share their knowledge and perspective. Participation is enabled throught digital ways of contributing as well as actual participation in one of our workshops.

To ensure an attractive presentation of heritage on our website, our project works on developing digital tools to improve the different section on this website. We thoroughly think about the way we are creating content and what voices we present on our website. Our work is based on 6 conceptual questions we have developed as a critical guide throughout our work:

1. Whose cultural heritage are we talking about?

Graphically locating heritage comes along with several biases about the origins and ownership of certain heritage. When we talk about Syrian cultural heritage, what we actually talk about is cultural heritage originating and/or living in Syria. With our stories we try to show the fluidity and complexity of heritage. This is done by presenting voices that bring in different perspectives, highlight the relationships this region had with other parts of the world, and explain their contributions without diminishing the ingenuity of Syrians creating their heritage.

2. Can cultural heritage be defined?

Living heritage such as traditions, crafts and music are never static but are rather constantly created and re-created. They are characterized by a sense of continuity, though their form may change and they may adapt new influences on their way through the minds and hands of people. Their purpose can change over time, and different meanings can be given to them from various groups of people all leaving their own footprint on them. With our stories, we are seeking to emphasize the living character of heritage, the connection to their creators and practitioners and the individual value these heritage forms have for them. 

3. Is cultural heritage necessarily something old?

We firmly believe, that the value of cultural heritage should not only be defined by the past and its age. Our goal to document, present and preserve cultural heritage in Syria includes current aspects of culture. In our musical journey through Syria, you can check out and learn more about traditional forms of music in Syria as well as current musicians as well such as Syrian jazz musicians. While jazz obviously has been imported to Syria, musicians in Syria have appropriated its original form and translated the music to their own musical ideas and concepts, transforming it into something unique and valuable for both their creators and connoisseurs. While we highly value the richness and diversity of ancient cultural heritage in Syria, that is presenting a significant part of human history shaping the world that we live in today and worldwide, we want to give space on our website to current forms of heritage as well as new innovative ways of transforming old traditions.

4. Who can define heritage?

There has been a significant mass of Western writers and researchers who have worked on defining heritage in the course of time. Often Western researchers were the explorers while everyone else was to be explored. By this, the focus is often put on theoretical exploration, while actual practitioners embodying the knowledge about a craft are usually neglected. Our stories try to balance out these voices by intentionally reaching out to practitioners like musicians or craftpeople to document their perspective and knowledge enriching their voices with available research.

5. Is cultural heritage mostly present in cities?

Heritage is being created everywhere without an exception. There has certainly been a great recognition of cultural heritage in urban spaces, while rural areas are often neglected. Urban areas seem to present a condensed presence of heritage reflecting the condensed population in one space. However, rural heritage is as rich as urban heritage and plays a vital role in contributing to the peek of urban heritage. The selection of our stories presented on this website show this diversity and reflect on both rural and urban areas.

6. What about minorities and marginalised groups?

Certain cultural heritage usually dominates public platforms depending on the area and interest. Counteracting these dominances is not an easy task when presenting for an international audience in three languages. The fight for recognition is real for people who have been marginalised either on a local or on an international level. Our team is trying to make sure, that unrecognized voices or marginalised groups can share their voice here, too. We intentionally include female voices on topics usually dominated by males. Do you see an important aspect of heritage missing and would like to write a story about it? Please contact us and our team will be happy to help.

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We want to meet you!

The Interactive Heritage Map of Syria project is keen to create spaces for Syrians and Non-Syrians in Berlin to exchange and discuss narratives on Syrian heritage. Over the last two years, we have conducted several workshops to meet and bring together people interested in the unique culture of Syria:

Storytelling Workshop Tell a Story Syria


Together with storytelling expert and Artistic Director Rachel Clarke (Storytelling Arena), participants of this workshop practiced the skills of storytelling and dramaturgy and developed their own storyline. They shared stories about what intangible Syrian heritage means to them.

Dates: 15, 16,17 March 2019
Location: Berlin
Partners: Storytelling Arena, Rachel Clarke

Creative Writing Workshop for Women


This workshop took place in Leipzig in cooperation with the project „Mut-Macherinnen“ by DaMigra e.V., an organisation advocating for female migrants in Germany. The workshop targeted woman and included an introduction into the art and principles of writing.

Dates: 12,13 &19 October 2019
Location: Leipzig
Partners: Damigra, Kifah Ali Deeb

Stories of Home – Stories of place Workshop


In this workshop we asked participants to go back in memory to the places they lived in, and talk about the habits and traditions that existed where they lived in Syria. We focused on stories of our neighborhoods, streets and cities, and how individual memories create a collective narratives of place and thus become an integral part of local culture.

Dates: 28 Feb., 06, 13 March 2020
Location: Berlin
Partners: Hiwarat e.V., Amer Katbeh, Natalia Ali

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We invite everyone to participate in our project! If you think you have a good story to tell about life and culture in Syria, you are welcome to share it. Of course, all Syrians around the world are invited to join. However, if you have lived or visited Syria, you might have insightful stories to tell about the rich culture and traditions of Syria, and we would also love to hear what you have to say.

What will happen to my contribution?

The information you contribute to us will be checked by our editors before publishing. If your contribution is part of a current theme, it will be published with other contributions of this theme. A selection of the media contributions will be part of our interactive heritage map. Stories are also shared regularly on Facebook. Follow our Facebook page to read all entries, be updated about the projects of the Syrian Heritage Initiative and receive regular insights from the Syrian Heritage Archive.

How to participate?

We invite you to share your photographs, personal memories, family histories, and your community’s folklore to help us document people’s heritage of Syria using this form (see below: Contribute). The material you share must be your own material and it should always show respect to fellow users, avoid inflammatory offensive language and any form of discrimination.

Click here to send your contribution (page opens in new tab)

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