With news agencies today reporting that ISIS is just outside of Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra, one of the world’s most important archaeological sites is at risk of destruction.
A group of archaeologists and urban planning experts in Germany say that President Bashar al-Assad is already seeing dollar signs in the ruins of his country’s cities.
LONDON — “Nagorno” is a Russian word for “mountain,” while “Karabakh” is a word of Turkic and Persian origin meaning “black garden.” When joined by a hyphen, the two words denote the boiling point of the Caucasus: Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed enclave — one of post-Soviet Europe’s “frozen conflicts” — that doubles as a mountainous graveyard.
It’s rare to hear any positive news associated with cultural heritage and Syria these days, but there is a ray of hope.
A bearded man wearing sunglasses and a flak jacket sits on the ground beside a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a pro-Assad song plays on the radio. He lifts up the lid of a cooking pot, and a genie emerges.
On Sunday night, more than 8,000 books and manuscripts were destroyed after ISIS militants bombed Mosul’s Central Library.
Al-Sultaniyah Madrasa, established in 1223 and containing the tomb of Sultan Saladin’s son Sultan Malik al-Zaher, appears to have been destroyed. And it seems to have been military rather than sectarian destruction.
Using satellite imagery from 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014, the Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT) of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) has mapped the intensity of cultural damage to cities across Syria.
“Audiences are understandably tired of the polarizing and dominant narratives of the mainstream media and political conversations,” Stephen Stapleton, co-founder of the arts non-profit Edge of Arabia, tells me on an afternoon in July.
As cultural and artistic heritage in Syria continues to face significant losses, two United States institutions have partnered with the Syrian Interim Government’s “Heritage Task Force” to share strategies for mitigating the dangers faced by museums and other sites.
The militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been destroying the artistic and religious heritage of Iraq and Syria as they continue to impose their fundamentalist Sunni doctrine on the lands they’ve occupied.
The United Nations issued a warning yesterday on possible danger to Iraqi cultural heritage sites as the insurgent army of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) continued its southward sweep of the country towards Baghdad.