Thousands of remarkable monuments and relics fill the land of Syria from the coast of the Mediterranean to its desert borders, dating back to the dawn of human history. The sites include: Bronze-Age ruins, Roman temples and necropolises, churches and monasteries from the early Christian and Byzantine eras, Muslim forts and mosques, Crusader castles, and many more. When conflict broke out in 2011, these treasures were put at great risk and in subsequent years, many were destroyed in battles—some were even the intentional targets of extremists.

From 2006-2009, American photographer Daniel Demeter traveled broadly throughout Syria, documenting the country’s warm and kindhearted people, vibrant markets, exciting landscapes, archaeological sites, historic monuments, and religious architecture. In seven chapters organized by region, Lens on Syria offers a unique visual experience of pre-war Syria and serves as an invaluable record of the country’s long history, rich heritage, and diverse culture.



Ross Burns, author of The Monuments of Syria

"Daniel has a wonderful eye for the people, the landscapes and for the beauty of [Syria's] extraordinary range of historic buildings. It is important that all who knew Syria before 2011 keep alive the memory of a society whose interwoven pattern of faiths, ethnicities and cultures is now threatened."


Dr. Abdalrazzaq Moaz, Former Director-General of Antiquities and Museums of Syria

"Daniel Demeter's photos make up one of the most important recent collections of photographs concerning the cultural heritage in Syria. These pictures reflect his love and knowledge of Syria and its heritage as well as perfection of photography."


Dr. Alastair Northedge, Professor of Islamic Art and Archaeology, Université de Paris

"What a celebration of life in Syria as it once was! Daniel Demeter takes us on a fascinating visual tour of Syria as it was before the war, following his years there in 2006-9. Every minor detail of people and their cultural heritage comes to life in this rich photography."


Dr. Lamya Khalidi, French National Center for Scientific Research

"Smells, colors, sounds and deep-time history of Syria jump from the pages of Demeter’s book in a mosaic of past and present and tell the breathtaking layered human story of a region whose multicultural identity and heritage are persistently being endangered by current violent conflict."




  • Foreword (by Joshua Landis)
    p. 5-7
  • Introduction
    p. 8-15
  • Damascus
    p. 16-73
  • The South
    p. 74-105
  • Homs & Hama
    p. 106-147
  • The East
    p. 148-181
  • Aleppo
    p. 182-221
  • The North
    p. 222-257
  • The Coast
    p. 256-297
  • Glossary
    p. 298-302
  • Acknowledgements
    p. 303
  • About the Author
    p. 304

Daniel Demeter was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. With a desire to travel and explore from a young age, he undertook several journeys abroad starting at age seventeen. During the next decade, he traveled independently to more than 35 countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia. He found himself particularly captivated by Syria, developing a deep appreciation for the country’s rich culture, history, and archaeological heritage, and its kind and hospitable people. Daniel spent more than three years exploring the country in depth, combining his passion for photography with his desire to share the beauty of Syria with the world. He currently resides in San Luis Obispo, California, pursuing a degree in cultural anthropology and maintaining a website dedicated to Syria’s cultural and historic sites.

Lens on Syria is available for purchase from Just World Books in either paperback (US$29.99) or hardcover (US$49.99) by clicking here.