Author Archives: David Hogge

About David Hogge

David Hogge is head of the Freer|Sackler Archives.

Aleppo: An Ancient City of Enduring Appeal

Citadel from outside Bab Antakiya, Ernst Herzfeld Papers

Citadel of Aleppo from outside Bab Antakiya, Ernst Herzfeld Papers

The Syrian city of Aleppo has received a lot of coverage recently due to the widespread destruction from years of civil war. In spite of this, the city is still one of the great architectural treasures of the Middle East, which has drawn travelers and scholars for centuries.

Citadel of Aleppo (Syria): early 19th century etching, Ernst Herzfeld Papers

Museum founder Charles Lang Freer visited the city in 1908, no doubt in his search for the lustrous pottery type associated with the nearby city of Raqqa. Although travel conditions prevented a visit to Raqqa, Freer was delighted with Aleppo, writing on June 19 to his business partner Frank Hecker, “Aleppo is a charming surprise – a beautiful ancient city, and in every way more attractive than I had fancied.” Among the hundreds of photographs he collected of Asia and the Middle East are twelve lovely views in and around Aleppo, likely acquired during his visit.

Photograph of Aleppo collected by Charles Lang Freer

Photograph of Aleppo collected by Charles Lang Freer, Charles Lang Freer Papers

Likewise, the renowned German scholar Ernst Herzfeld traveled many times to Aleppo during his decades of research and exploration in the Middle East. While his historical inscriptions of Aleppo were not published until after his death, the extraordinary number of drawings, photographs, and research notes in the Herzfeld collection is an important repository for the study of the city’s architectural heritage, so imperiled by recent conflicts.

Interior of the Great Synagogue of Aleppo

Interior of the Great Synagogue of Aleppo, Ernst Herzfeld Papers

This month, we have combined selections from these two collections into a slide show, currently on display outside of the museum shop and on YouTube.