In this page, we highlight the most significant and recent events related to our project that take place, in Syria and elsewhere, at an extraorinary pace.

February 4, 2022
International Balzan Prime

     Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati have been awarded with the "International Balzan Prize", for their achievements in the study of Hurrian culture and for highlighting its importance as the foundation of a great urban civilization, among the most flourishing in the ancient Near East in the third millennium BCE; for promoting a digital approach to the study of archaeology; for enhancing theoretical reflection on the nature of this discipline.

     Here below you can download:


November 10, 2020
"Archaeology for a young future" wins the
ILUCIDARE Special Prize 2020
for excellence in Heritage-led International Relations

     During the virtual European Heritage Awards Ceremony which took place yesterday, and which was followed by more than one thousand people via streaming across Europe and beyond, Mariya Gabriel (European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth) awarded the ILUCIDARE Special Prize 2020 for excellence in Heritage-led International Relations to our School Project.
     In awarding the prize, the Jury emphasised: "Through a shared vision of cultural heritage, Archaeology for a Young Future allows children, school staff and communities in Italy and Syria to forge bonds in a spirit of mutual understanding, respect and friendship. Its strong educational component and trans-generational impact can contribute to maintaining and improving relations between the two communities in the long-run. This bottom-up, easily replicable project demonstrates that heritage-led international relations can happen among people and communities on the ground, and are not exclusive of governments or international organisations". Our project has been identified as one of the "best practice examples for the heritage community as well as an inspiration for the broader worlds of innovation, entrepreneurship and international cooperation".
     Our heartfelt thanks go to all the educators, teachers and students who have contributed to the success of this project ever since its beginning in 2017 and in its development. Our activities continue today - now with even more enthusiasm and energy!


September 22, 2020
Mozan/Urkesh Prize for Best Heritage Conservation Paper

     We are pleased to announce the call for the “Mozan/Urkesh Prize for Best Heritage Conservation Paper”.
     The prize is open to undergraduate students in the first and second year who are enrolled at Syrian universities and institutes from different disciplines: archaeology, history, literature, engineering, media, and tourism.
     The call for papers is available at this page.


June 16, 2020
Heritage Conservation grant from the Kaplan Fund

     A major grant from the Kaplan Fund has been awarded to IIMAS, our sister institution with which we carry out our work at Tell Mozan, ancient Urkesh. The grant will allow us to continue the work we started with the support which the Cariplo Foundation gave to AVASA, and even to expand our programs as we respond to new needs that emerge as a result of the many events affecting not only Syria, but our whole world today.
     The name of the Kaplan grant program, "Heritage Conservation," epitomizes what we have been doing over the last several years at Tell Mozan. The recent report which you can find at avasa.it/pride gives an overview of the many activities we have included in our proposal. They include the presentation of the site to visitors and the school project, including the music for young people. And here is a section from the proposal that emphasizes our growing understanding of what heritage ultimately means:
     "Ever sensitive to the presence of local communities and their growing awareness of what was hidden under the ground with which their lives are inextricably interwoven, we have come to touch by hand what "heritage" means. Not a thing to be treated impersonally, but a living reality to be appropriated. The ten years of war that have forced us to be absent physically from the site have only reinforced our ability to interact with the local communities: not only have we continued what we had started, we were also able to broadly expand our programs. We have maintained the full momentum of our work during this long period by keeping concrete programs active. More importantly, we have nurtured even more the sense of social identity that builds on that shared sense of heritage. Thus the site has become a beacon of light, in the darkness of the conflict, for a number of diverging communities who find in this shared past a motive for coming together, instead of being torn apart. It is so because they have come to feel what it means to be inheritors of a common past - however distant and remote".

Kaplan Kaplan Kaplan Kaplan

May 28, 2020
The School Project shortlisted for one of the ILUCIDARE Special Prizes

     Today our School Project has received a very significant international distincion: "Archaeology for a Young Future" is among the 6 shortlisted projects for the ILUCIDARE Special Prizes, within the European Heritage Awards/Europa Nostra Awards 2020 (funded by the European Union through the Horizon 2020 funded programme, under grant agreement No. 821394”)!
     The Jury emphasized how "Archaeology for a Young Future is a strong example of how heritage can lead to people-to-people dialogue. This project promotes intercultural exchange and mutual understanding between students, teachers and local communities from Italy and Syria.": you can read more on the ILUCIDARE website.
     We are indeed very proud of this achievement, and grateful to all the teachers and students who have seen the educational and cultural significance of this initiative. Winners will be announced in Autumn 2020.


May 21, 2020
Federico Buccellati appointed Director of the
Mozan/Urkesh Archaeological Project

     Federico Buccellati is the new director of the Mozan/Urkesh Archaeological Project. He succeeds Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati, who served as Director from 1984 until 2020, and was appointed following the official approval of the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums, Damascus.
     Federico has never missed a season of excavations, and since 2005 has served as Assistant Director and Field Director. During his tenure, he has contributed in an essential way to the excavation strategy, the stratigraphic control, the methodological development, and the implementation of sophisticated digital techniques. He has a deep knowledge of the site and its potential, the full confidence of the local people, and an abiding commitment to the community aspect of the project. He has published extensively on Urkesh, and his scholarly profile, solidly rooted in Europe and in the US, will guarantee the high standards which were set for the project over the years, and will at the same time infuse new energy in the project and ensure its continuity.


March 28, 2020
The School Project now includes also high schools

     Since the school year 2019/2020, our Schools Project has developed in many ways. As we have already described in a previous post, in fact, starting from this year we aim to connect Italy, Syria and Greece in a twinning of cultures and archaeological sites.
     But this is not the only news: on this page, you can read about how, starting from this year, we have involved also high schools in our project. In particular, students from the "Antonio Rosmini" High School of Human Sciences in Domodossola and the "Homo Educandus" High School in Corinth have already started a dialogue which, we are sure, will enrich all those involved in this unique adventure.

January 7, 2020
A new book in honor of Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati

     A new book was announced today: the publication of a volume in honor of the directors of the Tell Mozan/Urkesh Project, Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati. The book, entitled Between Syria and the highlands. Studies in honor of Giorgio Buccellati & Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati, is edited by Stefano Valentini and Guido Guarducci and included in the series SANEM - Studies on the Ancient Near East and the Mediterranean published by CAMNES (Center for Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies), Florence.
     51 scholars from universities and research centres all around the world have honored the directors of our project by offering contributions that range geographically from the Near East to the Caucasus, from the third to the first millennium B.C.: papers are related to archaeology, glyptics, they include philological and literary studies, historical contributions as well as digital humanities and archive studies.
     With this important volume, the editors aim to celebrate the empathy and intellectual honesty always shown by Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati, to whom the merit of having given "life to an archaeology full of humanity: made up of people and faces, not only of pottery and of dust" is acknowledged.

October 27, 2019
Bread and yogurt – and healing

     The Director of the Mozan/Urkesh Archaeological Project has been very ill this summer, and on this date, having just celebrated her 80th birthday, Marilyn and Giorgio were summoned at 3 AM for a mandatory evacuation from their home due to the fires that were threatening their home in Los Angeles. They were able to return four days later and their home was fortunately untouched.
     For her birthday, she received two moving greetings from Mozan. Muhammad Omo says in a video: "I am sending you bread and yogurt from Urkesh. All the people in Tell Mozan send their greetings and say that you should come back again.".
     The other was from Amer Ahmad: "To Umm Iskandar ... (we) pray for your healing, that we are also in pain nowadays ... but we are determined to be strong, to be beside each other ... very soon Syria will be healed and also Umm Iskandar the same, then Mozan will tell you it is the time for your return, the time to hug Mozan, everything in Tell Mozan is missing you. The palace, abi and the temple are missing you, Tell Mozan's children are waiting their mother.".
     See the full messages at this link.

October 24, 2019
Urkesh at the re-opening of the Archaeological Museum in Aleppo

     Urkesh was present at the big event organized to celebrate the reopening of the Archaeological Museum of Aleppo.
     For the occasion we set up an updated version, in Arabic and English, of the exhibition "The millennia for today": the panels were visible on two large screens, some bilingual posters provided further updated information on the site, while free copies of the English catalogue were available to the numerous visitors.

October 11, 2019
War is all around Urkesh

     Just as we were making plans for the future, war has come frighteningly close to our site.
     At the moment, the village of Mozan and the site of Urkesh, located just 5 km away from the Turkish border, are safe, but the bombs have not spared the nearby centers. In particular, we have been informed that the nearby center of Amuda has been bombed.

September 11, 2019
End of maintenance work in J1 area

     Last June we begun a major conservation work on the wall of the Temple Terrace, which has occupied most of our energies during the summer.
     Now that the work has been finalized, our colleague Amer Ahmed has sent us a detailed report which reviews the phases of the work that has been carried out, on a day-to-day basis and with many explanatory photographs.

May 18, 2019
The exhibit at the Cotsen Institute, UCLA, is now open

     An exhibit entitled "The Millennia for Today. Archaeology Against War: Yesterday's Urkesh in Today's Syria", was inaugurated during the Open House of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.
     The exhibited panels consists in the English version of those presented at the Rimini Meeting (August 2018), for which we have also published an English version of the catalogue.

May 5, 2019
A research seminar on Urkesh, in Urkesh..

     Thirty-two students from the new "Roj Ava" University organised a seminar on Urkesh at our site. A report written by Amer Ahmed is available at this link.

February 24-25, 2019
New schools visiting Urkesh

     On February, 24th and 25th, visits by children and youngsters to the site of Urkesh started again, with three school groups of various ages led by our local collaborator, Amer.

November 1, 2018
Urkesh in the news

     The reopening of the National Museum of Damascus and the current situation in Syria have inspired an article that appeared on the blog of the Italian journalist and writer Robi Ronza, with some important remarks.

October 28-29, 2018
Urkesh at the re-opening of the Archaeological Museum in Damascus

     AVASA contributes to the reopening of the National Museum in Damascus, with a version fully translated into Arabic of the exhibition "Millennia for today" and with a paper read at the symposium organized for the occasion.

Qam exhibit

August 2018
The success of the exhibit "Millennia for Today"

     The exhibition set up at the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples in Rimini has resulted in a very positive experience: we counted five thousand visitors in a week, with a strong emotional involvement.

Qam exhibit

August 2018
Urkesh will be present at the Meeting 2018 in Rimini

     In these days, preparations for the participation of AVASA to the forthcoming "Meeting for Friendship among Peoples" (Rimini, 19 to 25 August 2018), are in full swing.
Urkesh will be present at the Meeting through the exhibition "MILLENNIA FOR TODAY. Archeology against War: yesterday's Urkesh in today's Syria".

Qam exhibit

April 27, 2018
Exhibition on Urkesh in Qamishli

     Based on that previously set up in Beirut in November 2017, this exhibition brings Urkesh to Urkesh - which is a bit like bringing owls to Athens...


January-May 2018
The awareness campaign

     We have started a project among the local Syrian communities, whose purpose is to disseminate the awareness on the importance of archaeology and landscape: in the section EVENTS you can find more details about each meeting.

Arm in MZ

January-May 2018
Tourists in Mozan

     Under EVENTS you can find a complete list of visitors on the site, which surprises for its variety, including even people from outside Syria.

welcome mOmo

January 2018
The School Project

     We have just started a new project, involving students from the middle schools from Qamishli (the closest city to Mozan) and Domodossola (Piedmont, Italy): the development of this project can be followed in the section EVENTS.

school in Qam
school bus


     Our commitment at an international level continues without breaks. You can find a list of the most recent given papers under EVENTS.


December 8, 2017
Medal of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

     The Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in Shanghai awarded a research medal to our project, for its contribution to the theoretical dimension of preservation of archaeological sites in their current context.


November 15, 2017
Exhibition and round table on Urkesh in Beirut

     We organized an exhibition at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, entitled "Archeology for a Young Future". A round table, which saw the participation of Syrian colleagues involved in the preservation of the archaeological heritage of the country, has further enriched the initiative.


Scientific publication

     We are strongly committed to our program of scientific publications about our researches. The most recent publishd volume is: Federico Buccellati, Three-dimensional Volumetric Analysis in an Archaeological Context.

All events