We all know that the future is in the hands of the young. But it is in our hands,
too. For there is no age barrier when we share the purpose in the same way that we
share the means.|
I will give here unedited excerpts from the statements they sent me in which
they summarize their experience with the project. The scholarly dimension is documented
in the publications, the lectures, the website. But now we hear the voice of
their commitment – and of their hope. It is catching.
Yasmine Mahmoud (Damascus)
I started working in the Mozan project in 2008. I continued with the team through
the seasons of 2009, 2010 and the study season in Italy in 2011.
To me working in the project is the biggest opportunity of my life. It gave me a
chance to understand the true work of archeology, from the moment of discovery to the
final publication. It also gave me a chance to be a member of the Mozan family. And
most of all, it gave a chance to contribute, even if only in a modest way, to my legacy
as a Syrian.
As a member of the Mozan project, I had the pleasure of traveling to Italy to work
on the documentation. This trip was of great importance. It made me feel a sense of
belonging to this project, and it made me feel that even though a war was starting in
my country, we will continue on with our work even from a distance.
Right now, I’m working on the record with other team members. And I have to say
that this work in these times of hard ships in Syria is one of the things that keep
feeding me hope. It’s a way to stay in touch with Mozan and with members of the
team. Even though no one can come to Mozan in this period, we will keep working
until one day we can all be reunited in a beautiful and peaceful Syria.
Hiba Qassar (Qamishli-Florence)
Working in Tell Mozan changed my view to the potentials of archaeology in Syria. In
my second year of archaeology I start working in tell Mozan in excavation and pottery
analysis, a year after I got involved in site presentation and interacting with visitors and
locals as well. This oriented my way in looking at archeology in Syria and made me
aware of the problems that Syrian archeology is going through.
After few years in Mozan an idea of an archeological park came out and how locals
can get direct benefits from the site, this crystalized my ideas of what I want to do in
archeology. After two years I started my PhD program in museology in Florence
University. The background as an archeologist in general and the experience I got
from Mozan in particular beside the critical situation that my country is going through
were my guidance in choosing my thesis topic.
Despite the difficulties I went through from losing my scholarship and other
academic obstacles, I never lost the enthusiasm or faith in the research topic I want to
My research idea was based on what I experienced in Mozan which is how to
bridge the relation between Syrians and the ancient past of the country by introducing
this past properly through museums, and the positive results we can get out of it
starting from appreciating the ancient past and protecting it to strengthening the sense
of belonging to one ancient past of the country.
Working in the project didn’t change and improve my perception to the ancient past
only, but looking at workmen from different villages and different ethnicities excavating
together the ancient past of their country and caring about it changed my view also to
the future. It made me believe in the potentiality of this past to gather people from
different ethnicities in different ways and levels.
Syria is suffering a bad conflict since almost three years which was called “a civil
war in Syria” by most of the media. Almost a year ago the project of Urkesh gate
gathered again women from different ethnicities to work together and produce some
handmade objects. Looking at the project with its simplicity and these women together
is so inspiring, and gave me hope to keep believing that these people are able to
combat any political theory or social analysis that others think could be valid for them.
Samer Abdel Ghafour (Aleppo – Rome)
When science combines with humanitarian.
There is no slightest doubt about the advanced organization when it comes to talk
among us as a community of archaeologist and cultural heritage specialist, about the
scientific and administrative level of the Tell Mozan project. The relation with the local
communities in the regions where we conduct our scientific projects, differs from one
case to another. In a way or another its related to the wish and will of the directors
more than any other reason.
As I grew up within the team of this project I recognized the importance and care
about the humanitarian side in the relation with the local workmen and collaborators.
That was obvious to me during my long term of participation in times of tranquility.
Unemployment, inflation, and losing the hope for better future; these elements and
more, accompanied the local workmen of the project, during the past three year of
unrest in my home country Syria. Some of them scattered in the neighboring countries
or even in the Europeans countries.
As I moved by the end of 2012 to Italy I continued my participation and
collaboration. More or less I'm in the center where I see, feel, and touch the
tremendous efforts of the directors to offer whatever help or assistance for them.
These current efforts are double fold of what it was before the unrest due to the
difficulties in communications, fund raising.
Rasha Elendari (Sueda - Toronto)
Sometimes the greatest things in our lives start with very small coincidences. It was
on the street when I run into my friend and his cousin, who was the photographer of
Tell Mozan. Chatting with them I mentioned that I was looking for a site where I can do
fieldwork, to which the photographer recommended I should apply to work at Tell
Mozan. Having heard about Tell Mozan I still didn’t know what working there would be
like. On faith, I sent my application the day after and got accepted to join the dig in the
coming summer. That was 2003 and it was my third year of undergrad in archaeology.
The significance of going to Tell Mozan was more than it being the furthest and
most isolated place I have ever been to at that time. It was more being involved with
one of the most progressive digs I’ve ever seen; adopting the newest technology and
educational methods while offering meaningful diversity and a homelike environment.
Since that first summer, Tell Mozan has been a part of my life and a turning point for
With the support of directors Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati, who
themselves welcomed me with open arms into their family, also encouraged me to
follow a career in archaeology. In 2007, I started working full-time at the Tell Mozan
Project and was fortunate to be a part of the Urkesh Global Record (UGR) publication,
translation and organizing several events. One of the events was an exhibit of tell
Mozan in conjunction with the American Embassy and American Center in Damascus.
Through this work, I was introduced to the Fulbright Scholarship and started
working on the application to continue to pursue a master degree in the United States.
Of course, Giorgio and Marilyn were a big support as they wrote recommendation
letters and even invited me to Los Angeles to work on the UGR in their lab at UCLA.
This was my first experience with the American university system and western student
life. The two months I stayed there was a great experience where I met many friends
and professors that shared my interests.
In 2009, I was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship and started university
applications. Again it was the Buccellatis who helped me through this foreign process
and get set up at the University of Arkansas to do my Master’s degree. Now I am at
the University of Toronto, pursuing a PhD, and it is in large part due to the impact that
Tell Mozan, Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati, and their continued support
through good and bad times that have gotten me to where I am today. For that I am
thankful. Even as I am finishing my studies – I hope to always be a part of the Tell
Ani Eblighatian (Aleppo-Geneva)
During my bachelor at the University of Aleppo, the site of Urkesh had the
reputation for being the best scientific archeological mission in Syria. In summer 2008,
I got the chance to participate in the excavations of Tell Mozan, which remained a
unique experience, for the quality of the organization, the work, as well as the richness
of the site itself.
Although I couldn’t participate in the following years, the contact with the team,
especially the directors Prof. Giorgio Buccellati and Prof. Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati,
remained naturally, due to the respect and the friendly social, as well as their
supportive spirit to the young archeologists. I was always looking forward to get the
opportunity to work within the Urkesh team again.
In November 2013, while their conference in Geneva, once again I got amazed, this
time by the constructive realistic approach in the painful depressive period of Syria, the
way to keep the work go on by the cooperation with Syrians in Syria, in restoring the
site, founding a museum, to keep the value of Syria’s identity and culture by
concentrating on the positive energy. The example inspired me in my personal project,
to keep on and aim doing the positive goal despite of the complicated situation, yet
getting the opportunity to contribute for the Urkesh project made me honored as I may
do something for Syria through this important project which is the base in preserving
the roots of Syria, the mosaic of cohabitated cultures during millenniums.