The Arab Civil War And The Destruction Of Ancient Objects And Cultural Heritage Sites

2184 Words9 Pages
Since the early twenty-first century and even before, museums in the Middle East have had to learn to cope with conflict. Syria is the best example of a country with many cultural heritage sites and museums that are in danger due to conflict. The onset of the Syrian Civil War and the destruction of ancient objects and cultural heritage sites by ISIS have been the most recent manifestation of this. As a result of the Syrian Civil War and ISIS takeover, sites like Palmyra and the Aleppo historic city center have been heavily damaged ("The Race to Save Syria 's Archaeological Treasures." 2016). Palmyra has stood for thousands of years, as prominent commercial site in ancient times and as a symbol Syrian cultural identity in recent times.…show more content…
ISIS’s motivations revolve around looting and smuggling of ancient artifacts for funding (al-Frieh 2016), religious cleansing for the ‘restoration of true Islam,’ a chance to make news headlines worldwide to spread fear and intimidation of local populations (Swicord 2016). The dangers of war have driven away many people who could protect these cultural heritage sites and the objects within them, and now they are helpless in the face of destruction in conflict and being smuggled for profit. Palmyra was a victim of this when ISIS captured the city in May of 2015 and controlled it for about one year. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with remains nearly 2000 years old ("ISIL captures strategic Syrian city of Palmyra." 2015). During its occupation, the city faced several kinds of destruction at the hands of its captors. The city had already been damaged from the fighting and shelling that resulted in its capture. The city’s Temple of Ba’al was severely damaged by mortar fire. ISIS also carried out many deliberate acts of violence against the objects and architecture. In the months following their victory, ISIS militants destroyed the Temple of Ba’al’s primary building and other structures, like the nearby Temple of Baalshamin and the decorative arches built by the Romans in the second century CE. They destroyed and defaced these larger like architecture and sculptures with explosives and jackhammers ("The Race to Save Syria 's
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