ISIS has released a new "heritage snuff" video that shows its destruction of the Palmyra Museum's Palmyrene funerary portraiture as well as desecration of the museum's mummies which DGAM personnel had stored in a protective bricked-sealed enclosure at the museum prior to ISIS overtaking the city in May 2015.
The 57 second video shows militants lifting funerary reliefs from shelving and dropping them forcefully onto the floor. Other historic artifacts are subjected to repeated blows with sledgehammers, filmed for cinematic effect.
More disturbing however is the footage of the desecration of human remains that had once been stored on exhibit within the museum. Lined up on a sandy street in Tadmur, the mummies were crushed with what appears to be a heavy military vehicle.
On display at the Palmyra museum since August 4, 2005 thanks to a Japanese grant and the efforts of archaeologists from Italy and France who helped extract them, the mummies of two men and two women were originally found wrapped in many layers of cloth in the Palmyra valley. Well preserved, they provided a fascinating glimpse of the area's funerary practices during the first and second century C.E. Given their age, they were considered to be a cultural and biological patrimony of inestimable value for the Syrian city.
Italian archaeologist Professor Paulo Matthiae once compared the find of the mummies to those found in Egypt. In a book on the ancient Syrian city of Ebla, Matthiae states
"The valley of the tombs of Palmyra is one of the most wonderful places of the region of antiquities in the Graeco-Roman world like the most famous tomb valleys in Egypt."
ISIS considers worshipping or mourning at grave sites to be equal to idolatry and have often destroyed burial sites throughout areas under their control.