SOAS University of London

SOAS scholar awarded British Council funding to document and protect heritage at Rum Kale

4 April 2017
20170503-HAA-NEWS-Documenting and Protecting Heritage at Rum Kale

Scott Redford, Nasser D. Khalili Professor of Islamic Art and Archaeology at SOAS, University of London, has been awarded a grant of £99,960 by the British Council for a two-year project, which will undertake recording and prepare management plans for the fortified archaeological site of Rum Kale, an area that is highly affected by the conflict in Syria.

The castle of Rum Kale 

Rum Kale is a walled settlement set on a steep crag high above the Euphrates River that historically commanded passage between northern Syria and the plateau of Anatolia. 

During the 12th and 13th centuries, Rum Kale served as the seat of the Armenian national church and there has previously been a Syriac monastery at the site, meaning it has served as a medieval pocket of Christian art and culture, surrounded by Muslim-ruled territories. 

Conquered at the end of the Crusades by Muslim forces from Syria and Egypt, Rum Kale served as an important military centre in the late medieval and early modern periods, and its walls were rebuilt under the Mamluk and Ottoman dynasties. The site is an important tourist attraction which is now directly at risk due to the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Sustainably documenting and preserving the site 

This two-year project will build on the excavation, clearing and site development that has taken place at Rum Kale so far with a long term aim of enabling better site management and further increasing tourism in the post-Syria conflict period. 

As well as undertaking mapping and an archaeological and geomorphological survey of all major buildings on the site and its immediate surrounds, a section will be open for visitors, and a site tourism/management plan and masterplan for restoration will be developed. 

Project partners

  • The Gaziantep Archaeology Museum
  • Ka Ba Conservation of Historic Buildings and Architecture ltd