Khan As’ad Pasha was documented as part of Project Anqa, a collaboration between the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), CyArk and Carleton University, funded by the Arcadia Foundation in the UK. The project began in 2015 in response to the catastrophic loss of heritage in the Middle East and aimed to protect monuments by providing training on digital preservation techniques for local heritage professionals in the region. CyArk provided several training and workshops in Lebanon to Syrian heritage professionals in 2016 and 2017 in partnership with the UNESCO Office for the Preservation of Syrian Cultural Heritage. Khan As’ad Pasha in Damascus was documented by the trained members of the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums using photogrammetry and LiDAR.
Introducing Khan As'ad Pasha
Constructed at a major point of economic activity of the Ottoman Empire’s rule in Damascus, governor As’ad Pasha al-Azem oversaw the project which was completed in 1752 and served as a guesthouse, commerce center, and storage facility for merchants traveling through the city. The structure follows the typical layout of a khan or caravanserai and was situated in the heart of the historic trading center along the Suq al-Buzuriyyah. The first floor consists of a courtyard populated with shops and was dedicated to commerce and storage while people mainly used the second floor for lodging. By the twentieth century the Khan As’ad Pasha no longer functioned as a haven for traveling merchants and in 1980, the Department of Museums and Antiquities used it as a manufacture and storage space. Restoration continues on the khan including restoring the domes which had been damaged in an earthquake, reinforcing the supporting piers, and restoring interior finishes and decor.
View of the expansive domes and ablaq masonry within the khan or caravanserai.
Image from the balcony into the courtyard below
The Eight Domes
The Khan As’ad Pasha is one of the most prominent khans of the old city and is considered a prime example of late Ottoman architecture. One of the most striking features of the khan is the dome structures that characterize the roof and ceiling. The vast courtyard is spatially divided by eight domes arranged around a circular aperture that allows light to spill into the marble pool sitting below. Each dome is ringed in twenty small windows that pull further light into the courtyard. The domes are supported by pendentives and four piers that form the stunning black and white ablaq arches. Ablaq is the masonry technique of layering dark and light stone, an architectural style believed to originate from Syria and a signature feature of Islamic architecture.
Open Heritage 3D by CyArkCyArk
Data from this project is now freely available through Open Heritage 3D.
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About Open Heritage 3D
The mission of the Open Heritage 3D project is to:
● Provide open access to 3D cultural heritage datasets for education, research and other
● Minimize the technical, financial and legal barriers for publishers of 3D heritage data.
● Promote discovery and re-use of datasets through standardized metadata and data formats.
● Foster community collaboration and knowledge sharing in the 3D cultural heritage community.
● Share best practices and methodologies for the capture, processing and storage of 3D cultural heritage data
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This project was made possible through the generous support of the Arcadia Fund and the following partners:
UNESCO Office for Safeguarding Syrian Cultural Heritage