UPDATED: The world fights back with technology as Palmyra in Syria is the latest site from ancient world to come under threat from Islamic State forces

UPDATED: The world fights back with technology as Palmyra in Syria is the latest site from ancient world to come under threat from Islamic State forces

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.

The Temple of Bel, Bernard Gagnon

The Temple of Bel, Bernard Gagnon

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.

Check out Holly Morris’s visit there in Globe Trekker Syria and our report on other Danger Lands in the Middle East and beyond.

Holly Morris filming Globe Trekker Syria

Holly Morris filming Globe Trekker Syria






Image credit: Yvonnefm
For more information visit:


His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Visit Glastonbury Festival 2015

His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Visit Glastonbury Festival 2015

This year’s Glastonbury Festival is welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Sunday 28 June to give a talk to festival goers in the Green Fields area of Glastonbury site on Sunday, before travelling to Aldershot in Hampshire, where he will open a Buddhist community centre.

The Tibetan spiritual leader is a guest of the Festival as part of a four day UK visit. The key themes throughout the visit will be the promotion of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s message of compassion, non-violence and the oneness of humanity.

The visit is not however, without controversy.

China have expressed disapproval and Lu Kang, a foreign ministry spokesman, told a daily news briefing that he was not aware of the details of what the Dalai Lama was doing at the festival. He said, however, that “China resolutely opposes any country, organisation, body or individual giving any kind of platform to the 14th Dalai Lama to engage in anti-China splittist activities.”

Tibetan-exile media reported on Friday that China has arrested a Tibetan man for sharing a picture of the Dalai Lama and the banned Tibetan national flag on the messaging app WeChat.

Since the 1950’s China has been engaged in what they call ‘incorporation of Tibet into the People’s Republic of China, the process by which the People’s Republic of China (PRC) gained control of the area comprising the present-day Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

In 1959, the Dalai Lama and many other Tibetans fled Tibet and both he and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government in Tibet subsequently repudiated the 17 Point Agreement and the PRC government in Tibet dissolved the Tibetan Local Government.

India designated land for the refugees in the mountainous region of Dharamsala, India, where the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile are now based.

The visit will also be marked by protests by the International Shugden Community (ISC), which claims the Dalai Lama is involved in the persecution of Shugden Buddhists in Tibetan exile.

Shugden Buddhists say they have been mistreated in Tibetan exile communities because the Dalai Lama has banned them from worshipping the fierce spirit known as Dolgyal or Shugden and claim that he has had escaped media scrutiny because of his “cult celebrity status.”

Dare to bare?

Dare to bare?

When travelling there is always a fine balance to be found between respecting local customs and living out acts of self expression. A perfect instance of this is the act of posing in the nude at famous sites around the world – the latest travel trend to hit the headlines. The hottest spots for the act of exposure are Machu Picchu in Peru and at the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

But this bare skinned affair has become a controversial one after the stunt caused quite a hoopla in Sabah in the northern half of the island of Borneo, part of Malaysia. Photographs of ten backpackers posing in the buff on Mount Kinabulu, including a 33 year old Canadian known as the ‘notorious nudist’ were posted across social media sites angering and upsetting local authorities who accused the group of indecent exposure and indecency.

The mountain has specific holy significance to the indigenious Kadazan and Dusun tribes of the area and feelings of ill-will towards the group quickly spread around the local community. Subsequently five out of the accused ten have been arrested by Malaysian authorities and if found guilty, could face three months in jail.
The British press have, true to their usual fashion, sensationalized the story further by claiming the authorities are charging the group with angering the mountain and thereby causing an earthquake that took place on the mountain last Friday. However, this claim made by the British press is unsubstantiated. Earthquakes in this part of Borneo are rare and tragically twenty-four people lost their lives when the quake sent massive boulders tumbling down the 13,435 ft high mountain.

Photo taken from mynakedtrip.com