The replicas are made with clay, rocks, kebab skewers, and other basic materials found in the Za'atari camp in Jordan.

Built in the 13th century, the Citadel of Aleppo sits in one of the oldest cities in the world. It was once a popular tourist site, but has been used by combatants since fighting in Syria began in 2012. It has since been bombed several times.
Built in the 13th century, the Citadel of Aleppo sits in one of the oldest cities in the world. It was once a popular tourist site, but has been used by combatants since fighting in Syria began in 2012. It has since been bombed several times. © UNHCR/Christopher Herwig - The Citadel of Aleppo is one of the miniature replicas created by the artists. The medieval structure is one of the oldest and largest castles in the world, and it towers over the old city from a strategic position atop a 40-metre-high plateau. While construction of the current fortress dates from the 12th and 13th centuries A.D., the site itself contains evidence of occupation by civilizations dating back millennia. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 as part of the Ancient City of Aleppo, the citadel was placed on a list of endangered sites in 2013 as a result of the threat posed by the conflict in Syria. It has been one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, but since combatants began using the fortress as an artillery battery in 2012, it has suffered significant damage, the full extent of which is still unknown.

Mahmoud Hariri, who was an art teacher and painter in Syria before fleeing to Za’atari in 2013, has made a replica of the fallen Palmyra using just clay and wooden kebab skewers. To him, Palmyra represents “all of humanity,” he toldUN Refugee Acency (UNHCR) in an interview.

“This is a way for them not to forget,” he said. “As artists, we have an important role to play. A lot of what we know about ancient civilizations or prehistoric people is preserved through their art—Egyptian hieroglyphs or cave paintings.”

Unlike recent efforts seeking to preserve the legacy or Palmyra with the help of 3-D technology, these artists only have access to what they can find at Za’atari—rocks, small carving knives, discarded wood. The result aren’t any less stunning.