Qaser Ibn Wardan is located on the desert edge about 60 km east of Hama. The site constitutes an extraordinary byzantine rural complex built in 564 AD. , composed by three free-standing structures, identified as a “palace”, Church and barrack building, which were in very good state of conservation. The complex is characterized by the construction with walls alternating bands of brick and basalt, domes and volutes, which are very similar to the contemporary building of Constantinople.
The journalistic reports in 2013 indicated a strong military conflict in the village and the structures seemed to be in good condition in a video posted on youtube in 19.11. 2013 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8iz7nTyoKg).
The General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums in Syria (D.G.A.M) published the report “Initial Damages Assement for Syrian Cultural Heritage during the Crises-2014” in which the damage on Ibn Wardan is described as following: “Vandalism to the palace’s wall and Theft”, but without any photographical (or other) documentations (https://en.unesco.org/syrian-observatory/sites/syrian-observatory/files/reports/damages_table_en_from_2011_till_2014.pdf).
In October 15, 2016, Syrian Network for Human Rights published news about Syrian Army bombing on this archaeological site, the photo published with this shirt news shows a partial damage to one of the walls caused by heavy weapon shooting. (http://sn4hr.org/blog/2016/10/15/government-forces-targeted-archaeological-palace-qasr-ibn-wardan-village-hama-governorate-october-15/).
During our recent satellite imagery survey, it appears that the site has recently suffered significant damage. The Google Earth image of 30.6.2015 shows that the north-west wing of the “palace” is partially destroyed by bombing and that the church’s western wall has completely collapsed. The good satellite images of the site date back to 2007 and 2014 in which such damages are not seen.
Dr. Tarek Ahamd – APSA