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To counter ISIS, great antiquities to be virtually saved in case they’re actually lost

September 2, 2015
A view of Palmyra in 2009, before the ancient city was seized by Islamic State militants. (Christophe Charon / AFP/Getty Images)

A view of Palmyra in 2009, before the ancient city was seized by Islamic State militants. (Christophe Charon / AFP/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Times reports that as “many as 5,000 high-tech, user-friendly cameras will be distributed to volunteers across Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan and Yemen by the end of the year,” to document the ancient monuments and cultural heritage threatened by ISIS. This initiative by “the Institute for Digital Archaeology, a joint venture of Oxford and Harvard universities” is “to compile an archive of millions of 3-D images of vulnerable heritage sites and other ancient treasures.”

The courtyard of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, photographed in 2014. Militants have since destroyed the temple's main building. (Joseph Eid / AFP/Getty Images). Click on image to enlarge.

The courtyard of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, photographed in 2014. Militants have since destroyed the temple’s main building. (Joseph Eid / AFP/Getty Images).
Click on image to enlarge.

According to the article:

In recent months, the terrorist group Islamic State has destroyed some of most significant historical and archaeological sites in Iraq and Syria.

Some of the ravaged antiquities and cultural monuments date back thousands of years. They include UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as castles and temples.

The stakes were raised in May when Islamic State captured Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra, known for its Roman colonnades and burial site and considered to be one of the world’s most precious architectural treasures.

Last month, the militants used explosives to blow up Palmyra’s Baalshamin Temple, believed to date to the 1st century. And on Monday, analysts with the United Nations’ UNOSAT satellite program confirmed the main building of Palmyra’s 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel had been demolished.

 

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