Smashed to pieces

Diana Darke reports for BBC News Magazine on the destruction of Syria’s ancient treasures. There are many photographs.

The Krak des Chevaliers has been bombed and shelled.

The Great Mosque in Damascus took a hit to some gorgeous mosaics.

The Temple of Bel in Palmyra has been battered.

The temple is one of the most important religious buildings of its time in the Middle East – it represents a synthesis of Roman with Greco-Persian-Babylonian architecture.

Many finely carved sculptures and blocks formerly stood inside the sanctuary, including a crowd scene with fully veiled women centuries before Islam. Whether they are still there, and still intact, is unknown.

Aleppo’s Great Mosque has also taken a hit, and its minaret was completely destroyed. The souks were set on fire by shelling, and much of them reduced to ash.

The livelihoods of over 35,000 people went up in smoke.

And then…

The famous tells or archaeological mounds of Mesopotamia – rich repositories of man’s earliest history once carefully dug by the likes of Agatha Christie’s archaeologist husband Max Mallowan – are now systematically being plundered with heavy machinery to fill the coffers of Islamist militant group Isis. While some ancient artefacts are traded for weapons or cash, others that represent humans or animal gods are seen by Isis as heretical to Islam and destroyed.

The BBC posted this photo of an 8th Century BC Assyrian statue on Facebook.

Unbearable to look at.


  1. ricklongworth says

    Tragic. This lowers my estimation of humanity. What will human civilization be like in 100 years? I am beginning to suspect, pretty damn empty.

  2. RJW says

    Oh Jeeze!, the Krak is one of the masterpieces of Western military architecture.

    Soon all that survives of our heritage will be in Western museums, so much for the campaign to return priceless antiquities to their ‘rightful owners’.

  3. says

    I know. When I saw the photo yesterday with the column of black smoke rising I gasped and said “oh no is that the Krak des Chevaliers?” – and of course it was.

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