August 24, 2015

Temple of Baal Shamin, Palmyra Destroyed

Maamoun Abdul Karim, of Syria's DGAM says Islamic State militants have destroyed the Temple of Baal Shamin (Arabic - تدمر – معبد بعلشمين ) located in the 2,000-year-old Roman-era city of Palmyra and to the north of the city's acropolis. The temple was located 500 metres from Palmyra’s amphitheatre, where Islamic State militants killed 20 Syrian soldiers shortly after overtaking the historical site and the modern city of Tadmor in May 2015. 
Coordinates: 34°33’12.00″N / 38°16’12.00″E

Portions of the temple complex dated to 17 CE though it went through numerous phases of construction in subsequent centuries. Based on inscriptions, the inner temple, or cella was thought to have been dated to 131 CE, immediately after the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s visit to the city one year earlier. 

Top of hill is Qalaat Shirkuh to right of Temple of Baal Shamin
Activists reporting from the occupied zone have said that militants used explosives to blow up the Baalshamin Temple. The blast is also believed to have been powerful enough to have also damaged some of the Roman columns surrounding the temple site.  

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of sources on the ground, said explosives were laid at the site of the Roman ruins at the town, in late June 2015.   The exact date of the temple's destruction remains unclear. 

The Temple of Baalshamin was one of two major temples located at with the confines of the Palmyra archaeological site (along with other lessor temples). No news yet on the status of the Temple of Bel, located at the far end of Palmyra's Grand Colonnade in the southeastern end of the city.  This second temple is thought to have been converted in the 5th century CE into a church and in the 12th century into a citadel by the arabs. 

Temple of Bel and S.E. Portion of Palmyra's Grand Colonnade

As the Islamic State continues its war against culture it would be wise to remember this quote:
The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history. -- George Orwell, 1984

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