Ever since I knew the series would be spending time in Syria, I wanted to find out something I could do to try to help the situation there. Basically I wanted to find a group working in the area that I could point listeners to. Of course the problems in Syria are massive and there are a lot of great organizations doing really amazing work.
Those of you on my Facebook page know I’ve been following the damage to ancient world heritage sites in Syria and Iraq – especially ones I feel particularly close to like Nineveh and Palmyra. I’ve done whole episodes on Nineveh and the current series, Bloodline, will end up in Palmyra. When I get there I’d be very, very happy if I could still talk about it as an actual place that people can go and see, rather than a place that used to exist.
After doing some research, I’ve found an organization that I think is a really good fit. It’s called the Syrian Heritage Initiative, or SHI, and it’s fully dedicated to documenting, protecting and preserving Syria’s cultural heritage. If you’ve been feeling helpless watching groups like IS capture and destroy ancient heritage sites then supporting the SHI is a great step. You can find all their details on their website: http://www.asor-syrianheritage.org/.
For those who’d prefer to donate to a group providing critical support to Syrian refugees, another great option is the International Rescue Committee, or IRC. If you want to help improve the lives of innocent Syrians caught up in a horrible civil war then supporting the IRC is a great step. You can find all their details on their website: www.rescue.org/crisis-syria.
And of course if you want to support both groups, even better! I’ve put Donate buttons for both organizations up on The Ancient World website. The buttons may not be visible on mobile phones or iPads, and you may have to view the website on a computer to see them. Both organizations are 501c3, and are therefore eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable donations. If you’d prefer to donate to either organization via regular mail or over the phone, you can find that information on their websites.
As you probably know, I spend most of my free time – OK who am I kidding, all of my free time – putting together this podcast series. Which is really nobody’s fault but my own. But if you appreciate the work I do and have ever thought about donating to me or the podcast, please donate to one of these organizations instead. As best I can figure, the series has around ten thousand regular subscribers. Together, I’m hoping we can do some real good.
OK, now for the fun part. I’ve decided to give away prizes to listeners who donate to either organization. So please save the confirmation of your donation so you can redeem it for one or more of these prizes. Please e-mail your confirmation and other information to:
First off, anyone who donates $10 or more will be thanked on The Ancient World website. If you’d like to be thanked, please give me your name (or the name you’d like me to use) when you e-mail me your donation confirmation. A $25 donation will get you a set of JPEG files of all the maps, family trees and header photos I’ve created so far for Bloodline.
Moving up the scale, a $50 donation will get you a photobook containing my very favorite Ancient World photos I’ve taken on my travels. I’ll also provide details on when and where each photo was taken and what makes the photo one of my favorites. The photobooks will be 4×6”, softcover, and contain 10 photos. Unfortunately, due to shipping costs, this prize will only be available within the continental United States. Outside of the US, the alternate prize for a $50 donation will be JPEG files of 20 of my favorite photos, along with the details on each.
A $150 donation will get you a signed hardcopy script of any Ancient World episode – from any series. It’ll be printed out all pretty and I’ll include some “liner notes” with extra information. If you have a favorite Ancient World episode I’d really encourage you to consider this option. Unfortunately due to shipping costs, the hardcopy version will only be available within the continental United States. Outside of the US, the alternate prize for a $150 donation will a signed PDF file of the script along with the liner notes, etc.
Now we get to the sentimental stuff. For a donation of $300 or more you can have one of the actual reference books I used to generate the original Ancient World series – with the rampant yellow-highlighting to prove it. Again these will be signed and I’ll include some “liner notes” discussing how I used the reference in the series. The books on offer are:
“A History of the Ancient Near East” by Marc Van De Mieroop
“Ancient Iraq” by Georges Roux
“Carthage Must Be Destroyed” by Richard Miles
“Persian Fire” by Tom Holland
And then of course there’s the grand prize. For a super-generous donation of $1,000 or more you can pick any person or event between 500 BC and 500 AD – and I’ll do a full-length episode on him, her or it. So basically the prize is two weeks of my life – maybe even a little more. This is a one-time offer, so once someone grabs it’ll be off the table.
The Syrian charity drive will be going on between today, June 1, and the end of the month, June 30. All prizes will be sent out as soon as possible after the end of the charity drive. After June 30 you can keep making donations through The Ancient World website, but the only reward will be knowing you’ve supported a really great cause.
So, that’s it! Give to a great cause, get a cool gift – it’s a win-win. Thanks again for listening and thanks for helping me help Syria.