The legacy of the Classical World’s material culture cannot be underestimated in the monuments of the Early Islamic world. The local mosaic traditions of Syro-Palestine, as well as those of Alexandria and Constantinople, were fundamental to the construction and decoration of monuments, such as the Dome of the Rock and Great Mosque of Damascus. The remarkable monuments of the ancient cities of the Middle East, such as Palmyra, Dura Europos, Apamea and others are under threat due to the ongoing conflicts in the region. After the horrific human toll, which cannot be underestimated, the archaeological sites, museums and cultural heritage sites have been seriously damaged, looted, and/or destroyed.
Archaeologists are trying to do what they can from afar. One way is to create resources for studying these sites. The Manar al-Athar open-access (free) photo-archive (http://www.manar-al-athar.ox.ac.uk/) has been compiled by an international team of archaeologists, who have traveled and work extensively in the region. The archive with over 17,000 photographs (labeled by archaeologists) is free to all to use for teaching, research, publication and heritage studies.
—Dr. Elizabeth Macaulay Lewis