Archaeological ruins with modern homes in background, Syria, 1940.


Holly Williams for Art-Sheep

Plagued by civil war, conflicts with neighboring countries, political and financial instability, as well as frequent violations of human rights, Syria is rather known to the rest of the world through its sufferings, than its beauty and rich culture. Indeed, though the state of Syria as we know it today has only proclaimed its independence in 1946, the country’s territories have hosted one of the most ancient civilizations on earth, according to archaeologists.

One of the fifteen states that comprise the “Cradle of Civilization” and home to a variety of cultural and religious groups,as well as divers tradition, Syria is a country, that has in its rather short history as an independent state been marked by coups, war, censorship and immigration.

In a 1940s’ issue of LIFE, photographer Margaret Bourke-White was sent to capture with her photographic lens Syria in its hopeful beginning as a republic and has brought it to us in the following rare pictures.

via vintag


A view of Damascus, Syria, 1940.
Raising the French flag at Aleppo, Syria, 1940.
Women carry water containers on their heads as they lead mules along a road in a desert village near Damascus, Syria, 1940.
Members of the Bedouin “camel cavalry” near Damascus, Syria, 1940.
Street scene, Damascus, Syria, 1940.
View of the downtown area of Aleppo from atop the ramparts of the great citadel built in the 4th century B.C.
View from above Aleppo, Syria, 1940.
Soldiers urge a mule up the steps of the citadel at Aleppo, Syria, 1940.
Scene in Aleppo, Syria, 1940.
Inside the garrison of the French expeditionary force in the great citadel at Aleppo, Syria, 1940.
Street scene, Aleppo, 1940.
A narrow street in downtown Aleppo, Syria, 1940.
A Moroccan soldier of the French expeditionary force holds an officer’s Arabian horse inside the great citadel at Aleppo, 1940.
Engineers relax on the grounds of the great citadel, Aleppo, 1940.
French Foreign Legion soldiers at their outpost at Homs, Syria, 1940.
French Foreign Legion soldiers gather around newly erected tents as they set up their outpost near Homs, Syria, 1940.
South of Homs, men of the Tunisian infantry prepare to eat.


View of the walled town of Tell Bisse, Syria, 1940.
A family walks past the walled town and beehive-shaped homes of Tell Bisse, Syria, 1940.
Syrian children outside the walled town of Tell Bisse, Syria, 1940.