The civil unrest in Syria, has received a lot of coverage that focusses on the human aspects of it – and rightly so. What has not been picked up as much by the press, is how much damage is also being inflicted on many of the country’s ancient sites, that form part of Syria’s history.
Destruction, Looting Of Syria’s Ancient Heritage Continues, Report Says
by Sean McLachlan (RSS feed) on Jun 6th 2012 at 10:00AM
The upheaval in Syria has been going on for more than a year now, and in that time thousands of people have been killed, including many civilians and children. Syria’s many ancient sites are also getting damaged. Previously, we’ve talked about how the Syrian army has shelled the ancient city of Palmyra and the Crusader castle Crac des Chevaliers. Both of these are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, of which there are six in the country.
A report by the Global Heritage Fund states that these and many other sites and museums, are getting damaged and looted in the chaos. Sites like Tell Sheikh Hamad, pictured above in this Wikimedia Commons image. This Assyrian town was inhabited for several centuries and archaeologists have found numerous cuneiform inscriptions there. Recently it became a battleground between the Syrian army and deserters. An Assyrian temple reportedly collapsed when it got hit by shellfire and the rest of the site likely suffered serious damage as well.
The medieval citadel of Hama has also been shelled, as can be seen in the video below.
Besides the fighting, historic sites are getting damaged by troops digging trenches, tanks rolling over fragile areas, and snipers building positions atop historic homes. Not even mosques have been safe, with several historic mosques suffering damage.
Looting is also a serious problem since members of museum staff are often not around to guard their collections due to the fighting. In Crac des Chevaliers, looters kicked out the staff at gunpoint and started digging.
With no end in sight for the Syrian Civil War, it’s certain that more of the nation’s previous heritage will be destroyed or stolen.