Building Conservation Capacity in Syria and Jordan

Completed Project
Mafraq, Jordan

Project Description

Protecting and Preserving Heritage in Conflict

Dedicated to preserving heritage in conflict zones and strengthening communities around sustainable commitments to cultural places for decades, World Monuments Fund (WMF) has built an understanding of cultural heritage as a source of pride and identity and as a powerful tool for healing after conflict.

The Building Conservation Capacity in Syria and Jordan project was created by WMF in 2017 in response to the devastating impact of the Syrian civil war on the Syrian people and their treasured cultural sites. Addressing a significant need to assist displaced Syrians and recognizing that future conservation of heritage in the region will be severely hampered by a lack of specialist skills on the ground, a stonemasonry conservation training program was developed for Syrian refugees and local Jordanians.

Along with building capacity in masonry skills, which are essential to conservation programs and the larger construction trade, the program was designed to raise awareness of heritage sites and show connections between the history, architecture, and traditions of the region that can transcend contemporary national boundaries.

A Successful Pilot Program in Mafraq, Jordan

The project’s first training program was developed in Mafraq, Jordan. With generous support from the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, WMF and WMF Britain worked with Petra National Trust to create a training facility and recruit a group of 45 qualified candidates who, after completing training, would become mentors for subsequent trainees in the 12-month program. The training focused on: stone cutting; manufacture of molds, templates, and models; repair of damaged masonry; stabilization of arches, vaults, and domes; underpinning and reinforcement of foundations; hoisting and lifting of stone block; methodologies for grouting and pinning masonry surfaces; lime technologies; surveying; stone selection and quarrying; cleaning historic stone; mortar analysis; and other related masonry conservation skills.

Thanks to additional support from the British Council and in partnership with Petra National Trust, a second phase of the training program with 20 of the original trainees was held between May and December 2019. Building on student’s achievements, this next phase taught trainees more advanced stonemasonry skills as well as letter caving, mortar work and business planning.

The Building Conservation Capacity Project Expands

A Second Training Program in Tripoli, Lebanon

Building on the success of the project, WMF secured additional support from the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund to expand the Building Conservation Capacity project beyond Syria and Jordan.

Launched in the summer of 2020, WMF’s third conservation stonemasonry training program took place in Tripoli, Lebanon. The program, with a cohort of 40 trainees, focused on Syrian refugees and local Lebanese. The group of trainees included 8 women—an important step toward addressing gender imbalance in the masonry craft. A youth engagement program invited university students and local youth to the training center for educational activities, workshops, and a guided tour of the Lion Tower.

Learn More

World Monuments Fund safeguards cultural heritage around the globe, ensuring our treasured places are preserved for present and future generations. 

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The Building Conservation Capacity Project has been made possible, in part, with support from the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, The J.M. Kaplan Fund, and Friends of Heritage Preservation.

Last updated: May 2024.

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