Skip to content
CityLab
Design

Recapturing the Grandeur of Syria's Lost Landmarks, in Miniature

The replicas are made with clay, rocks, kebab skewers, and other basic materials found in the Za'atari camp in Jordan.
Mahmoud Hariri creates a clay replica of the fallen Palmyra, which was destroyed by Islamic State militants last year.
Mahmoud Hariri creates a clay replica of the fallen Palmyra, which was destroyed by Islamic State militants last year.UNHCR/Christopher Herwig

There wasn’t much the world could do by the time videos surfaced of Islamic State militants destroying the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. In the midst of the Middle East conflicts, several temples have been shelled, historical monuments ravaged, and entire cities bulldozed. The destruction has been especially devastating for the millions of refugees who not only face an uncertain future but have also had their rich cultural heritage violently stripped away from them.

But for at least one group of Syrian artists at the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, such history isn’t completely lost. The original sites may have already been destroyed or are at the mercy of militants, but they are now being recreated in miniature form.