Back in May we posted an article about the ancient city of Palmyra in Eastern Syria being captured by the terrorist group who refer to themselves as IS – Islamic State (see original post below).
Since then, global fears that IS would destroy the numerous artefacts of the ancient city have been realised, with horrifying violence.
So far, amongst the artefacts destroyed are the temple of Baalshamin, a 2,000-year-old relic, the Assyrian Palace at Khorsabad, Hatra the capital of the Parthinian Empire, immense statues at Nimrud, the ancient Temple of Bel (pictured below) and ruined artefacts at the Mosul Museum, the Mosul Public Library.
The destruction has not been limited to the antiquities; Khaled al-Asaad, the 81-year old former director of the world-renowned archaeological site at Palmyra in Syria, was beheaded in August. Prior to his death, al-Asaad and his son Walid, the current director of antiquities, had been detained for a month. They had been tortured as their captors tried to extract information about where treasures were to be found. Al-Asaad devoted his life to the ancient city and worked at the archaeological site for more than 50 years, spending most of that time as its director.
Archeologists from Harvard and Oxford are fighting against the destruction by sending a a ‘flood’ of 3D cameras to the region so that people can scan and photograph historically significant buildings and artefacts to preserve them from politically-motivated obliteration. The Million Image Database Project will distribute 5,000 cameras to war zones around the world by the end of 2015 allowing some traces to remain safe from the senseless destruction.
Furthermore the Director of the IDA , Institute for Digital Archaeology in Oxford, says it’s hoped that the resulting images will contain sufficient detail so they might one day be used to recreate them using 3D printers.
A glimmer of light recently revealed by authorities was that most of the sculptures the IS members destroyed were replicas of the real artefacts, many of which are stored safely in Baghdad and outside the reach of the vandals however, at least two of the destroyed pieces were authentic.
Palmyra in Syria is the latest site from ancient world to come under threat from Islamic State forces
The city of Palmyra in Eastern Syria is the latest site in the ancient and classical world in the Middle East to come under threat from so-called Islamic State forces.
Palmyra is in the middle of the Syrian desert, in the north-east of Damascus and contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world.
From the 1st to the 2nd century, the art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, married Graeco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences representing the epic relics of a shared human history and were of particularly special meaning to Iraqis and said to the cradle of civilization.
Image credit: Yvonnefm
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