Showing posts with label Palmyra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Palmyra. Show all posts

August 25, 2015

Further Information Dating Destruction of the Temple of Baal Shamin

News sources reported earlier this week via Maamoun Abdul Karim, of Syria's DGAM that the Islamic State militants recently 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.  

View of the Temple of Baal Shamin, taken from Hotel Zenobia 
Further news from the AP today reported that the bombing likely took place Sunday, August 23, 2015 shortly after 4pm. 

A witness, using the name Nasser al-Thaer, spoke with journalists affiliated with the AP saying
I went to see it, not from very close because IS (militants) were there and because I was worried for myself and afraid they will ask me what are you doing here. So I saw it from a distance. 
A 25-year-old activist, also going by the name Nasser al-Thaer, had previous spoken with the organization Syria Deeply reporting on conditions inside Tadmur,  the modern city situated about 500 metres (1⁄3 mi) northeast of the ancient historical site of Palmyra.

An Islamic State operative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity with journalists from the AP, confirmed that the organisation would be issuing its own statement soon.

The United Nations Scien­tific and Cultural body (UNESCOn) has stated that the temple's destruction was “an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity”.  The head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova has also called the heinous act a “war crime”.

At the time of this reporting, five photos of the destruction of the temple have recently been released by by Islamic militants and distributed on social media.  The images show explosives set at the historic site, a mushroom cloud image freeze-framing the explosion and the resulting rubble.

Out of respect for the people of Syria, the residents of Tadmur and those that have lost their lives in the protection of Syria's cultural heritage, ARCA will not be publishing ISIL, ISIS, Islamic State, Daesh, Daish heritage "snuff" videos of the temple's destruction.

To not spread further

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 is 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 Baal Shamin 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

April 4, 2012

Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - ,, No comments

Syrian Arab News Agency Reports Claims by Directorate-General for Antiquities and Museums that World Heritage Sites in Syria Suffered Attacks by Terrorists

"The oasis where the Temple of Bel stands"/
Istanbul Archaeological Museum

On the same day, CBS News Correspondent Clarrisa War reported that U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with delegates from 70 countries at a meeting in Istanbul to "support the opposition" [or what the Syrian government calls "terrorists"] to the government of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.  CBS News has reported that the U. S. pledges $12 million to Syria's rebels and reports that the Syrian Regime won't back down.

According to Bloomberg News today, a "United Nations team is headed to Damascas to discuss deploying unarmed peacekeepers after the Syrian president agreed to an April 10 cease-fire."

According to SANA's online report, the world heritage sites in Damascus (the Ancient City of Damascus), Aleppo, Old Bosra, Palmyra, Citadel of Saladin, and Crac des Chevaliers were "targeted by the terrorist groups."

Palmyra also has a sacred site, The Temple of Bel, in honor of the Babylonian god Bel-Marduk.

April 1, 2012

Palmyra and other Syrian Cultural Heritage at Risk During Armed Conflict; UNESCO asks Syrian authorities to respect international cultural property protection conventions they have signed since 1954

by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Since early March, archaeologists, government officials and Syrian expatriates have been alarmed at the threat to cultural property sites in Syria after more than a year of civil conflict.  UNESCO has issued a request to the Syrian authorities to protect their cultural heritage in accordance with the international cultural property protection conventions they have signed since 1954.

Global Heritage Fund blogged on March 5, 2012 that the Syrian army was attacking Palmyra's Roman Ruins.  According to the report, the Syrian army has set itself up in a hilltop citadel and firing into the ancient ruins. 

Palmyra, located about 200 kilometers northeast of Damascus, an ancient Roman trading center accommodating caravans between Persia and the Mediterranean countries flourished in the 1st through the 3rd centuries.  It was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world.  It is a national monument and since 1980 included on UNESCO's World Heritage list.

According to the Global Heritage Network, "Protestors have made use of this UNESCO World Heritage Site during recent protests on December 30th of 2011.

On March 24, Popular Archaeology wrote in "Leaked Government Memo Warns of Organized Looting in Syria" that government is concerned that the current civil conflict in Syria will increase damage and theft from archaeological sites.  Syria has 25 antiquities museums throughout the country near the original excavation sites.

Kate Deimling for ARTINFO France reported March 27th that Syrian activists had appealed to UNESCO for financial aid to protect the country's ancient sites. One archaeologist reported that looting "takes place in the form of direct attacks on specific sites or clandestine searches of in storehouses holding historic pieces."

"The Syrian Expatriates Organization (SEO) is disturbed by the Assad regime's deliberate destruction and failure to preserve Syria's great archaeological sites and ancient antiquities," according to a press release dated March 28.  SEO asked that UNESCO issue a statement "condemning the Syrian government's actions regarding the potential loss of cultural property and for help in assessing the damage "as soon as the situation allows".

On March 30, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, appealed for protection of Syria's cultural heritage:
Earlier this year, UNESCO alerted the Syrian authorities, through their representative at UNESCO, about their responsibility to ensure the protection of cultural heritage.  'This situation is becoming more crucial by the hour,' stated the Director-General. 'I urge the Syrian authorities to respect the international conventions they have signed, in particular the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Properties in the Event of Armed Conflict, the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970), and the 1972 World Heritage Convention. 
In the framework of the 1970 Convention, the Director-General has already contacted the World Customs Organization, INTERPOL, and the specialized heritage police of France and Italy to alert them to objects from Syria that could appear on the international antiquities market.  She has also called for the mobilization of all UNESCO's partners to ensure the safeguarding of this heritage.
The photos (by Catherine Sezgin) published here are second century funeral monuments from Palmyra on permanent display in January at Istanbul's Archaeological Museum.

January 31, 2012

Istanbul Archaeological Museum: Sculptural Reliefs Portray the Deceased on the 2,000 year old Tombs of Palmyra, Syria

Funerary art from Palmyra, Syria/
Photo by C. Sezgin
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Today's afternoon story in The New York Times, "Fighting in Syria Escalates as Opposition Rejects Russian Plan" reminds me of the beautiful funeral monuments I saw earlier this month on display from Palmyra, Syria, at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.

Palmyra, located more than 200 kilometers northeast of Damascus, was a thriving Roman city in the First, Second and Third Centuries AD, a midpoint for caravan traders between Persia and the Mediterranean.

In 108 AD, a rich Palmyrene named Yarhai, used limestone blocks to construct tombs for 219 people. More than 100 people were interned in this one kilometer long necropolis called the Valley of the Tombs over 130 years.

Burial slots were designed as drawers stacked in up to six rows, similar to the Panthéon in Paris or even the mausoleum at Our Lady of Angels, the contemporary Roman Catholic Cathedral in Los Angeles. The exciting feature is that the deceased were represented by sculptural portraits projecting from the surface of the graves, giving "the impression of looking out of a window" (Istanbul Archaeological Museum placard).

'ABD' Astor and his son Maqqai/
Photo by C. Sezgin
Inscriptions in Ancient Greek and the language of Palmyra (Aramaean and Arabic) on one-third of the tombs reveal "the identity of the person who has ordered the tomb to be built; the common tombs shared by the family or the relatives; and the distribution of the tombs in the 1st-3rd centuries AD" (Istanbul Archaeological Museum placard).

Merchants, army commanders and high ranking officials and priests of Palmyra were buried in these tombs (Istanbul Archaeological Museum placard).

The original reliefs on display at Istanbul's Archaeological Museum were separated from their tombs and are arranged according to their style and chronologically (Istanbul Archaeological Museum placard).

Salmat and her daughter Hagge/Photo by C. Sezgin
Two of the reliefs are related, one is of "ABD' Astor and his son Maqqai and the other is of his daughter Salmat and her daughter Hagge. As with many of the objects in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, I am humbled by their beauty and have an increased awareness of the tenacity of the Syrian people.

You may read more about Palmyra and its history here at UNESCO's World Heritage Site page.  The city thrived until the 16th century.  Other funerary art from Palmyra may be found at the British Museum.

Here's the page on the website of the Istabul Archaeological Museum on the Palmyran Tomb Chamber.