Antiquities Coalition Releases “Culture Under Threat” Mapping Resource

by | Apr 14, 2016

WASHINGTON ” To provide a graphical representation of cultural crimes committed by Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and other extremist organizations in the Middle East and North African region, the Antiquities Coalition partnered with Hexagon to create the Culture Under Threat Map. The interactive map program base includes current high-resolution satellite imagery maps and displays the destruction of heritage sites in the Middle East and North Africa. The Smart M.App’s satellite imagery base paired with the metrics for viewing multiple data combinations provides unique insights into cultural cleansing that were not previously available through standard GIS maps.


This dynamic information service, known as a Hexagon Smart M.App, provides a new way to visualize the campaign of destruction that Daesh and other extremist organizations have unleashed across the Middle East and North Africa.

The map is being released as part of the #CultureUnderThreat Task Force Report, which is the first comprehensive set of recommendations by respected NGOs to the U.S. government to combat cultural racketeering and cultural cleansing. This report details the current situation in the Middle East and North Africa and puts forward a series of recommendations for the U.S. government, international community, and art market that address the core issues – cultural crimes that are closely linked to security threats, money laundering, transnational organized crime and international terrorist financing.

The Culture Under Threat Smart M.App temporally illustrates losses to date with easy to use time and date slide bars showing when incidents took place. Unlike previous maps that show a static time set, the Culture Under Threat Smart M.App timeline can be used to understand how destruction has evolved across the broader MENA region at a given time. The ability to view this timeline with any combination of data sets allows for a unique examination of patterns. This allows experts to not only quantify data across a wide region, but provides an opportunity to understand the types of patterns that are occurring which can better inform them in the development of solutions to the critical threats caused by cultural cleansing.

Sites and data regarding the destruction or damage to a site can be crowd sourced and when pictures are taken at damaged historical sites, the images can be uploaded to the Smart M.App so the map becomes an active information management exchange and information visualization tool.

“Our hope is that this Smart M.App will help raise awareness about the extent of the destruction that has been wrought by Daesh on our shared heritage,” Deborah Lehr, Chairman and Co-Founder of the Antiquities Coalition said. “These attacks against culture are first and foremost attacks against the people of Iraq, Syria and the entire region,” Lehr continued.

“We built the Hexagon Smart M.App as a dynamic tool to help solve real-world problems, and today we’ve seen the power of this platform realized in partnership with the Antiquities Coalition,” said Hexagon Geospatial President, Mladen Stojic. “We developed a Smart M.App that allows their experts to analyze multiple real-time data streams that have helped them identify trends in heritage site destruction and looting across the Middle East. This big data analysis has already provided insight to drive new recommendations and policies to protect ancient heritage sites across the globe.

About The Antiquities Coalition Map:

  • The Antiquities Coalition’s interactive map only includes museums and sites designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) whose information is publicly available so as not to reveal to Daesh the details of other critical but lesser known locations of cultural, historical, and religious history.
  • The destruction in the countries examined has revealed more than 230 sites that have been deliberately targeted or destroyed by Daesh and other violent extremist organizations. Destroyed heritage includes significant monuments from the ancient, Greco-Roman, Islamic, and modern periods alike.
  • The Culture Under Threat Map currently shows nearly 700 heritage sites throughout the 22 states of the Arab League ” 209 UNESCO World Heritage and Tentative List Sites (34 of which are in Iraq and Syria), 230 damaged or destroyed sites, and 277 museums.
  • The Hexagon Smart M.App is a dynamic, cloud-based platform that uses high resolution imagery and maps paired with multiple fluid streams of real-time information. This information can be dissected, analyzed and visualized to deliver a picture of what is happening in the moment over a specific location. More importantly, Smart M.App’s help develop analysis that can be used to forecast future possibilities and outcomes based on current and past trends.

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