A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, March 28, 2016

Palmyra Destruction is Not Complete, But Bad Enough

Now that the Islamic State has been driven out of Palmyra, there have been some reports suggesting that the damage to the ancient site is not as bad as had been feared.

Insofar as it proves to be true, that's good news, of course, but let's not sound too optimistic. We know the once beautifully well-preserved Temple of Bel was razed:
Temple of Bel (my photo, 1972)
And we know little was left:

Triumphal Arch (My photo, 1972)
We also know that the Temple of Baalshamin and the Great Triumphal Arch (above) were also turned to rubble.  ISIS also destroyed several tower tombs which, like the temples, they considered idolatrous. But the amphitheater received little damage, though it reportedly was used for executions, and while some exhibits in the museum were smashed, others are said to be intact.

Russia has released drone footage showing the site from the air. The first version, from RT, is in English without commentary; the second has fuller commentary in Russian, which I don't speak but some readers will.

Finally, I add an ASOR aerial shot of the site before ISIS for comparison.

1 comment:

Wayne White/MEI said...

So very sad, Michael. Honestly, I thought as the Syrians/Hezbollah, et. al. drew closer, ISIL would demolish even more. The fact that they didn't may be interesting in some context (too distracted militarily?--I just don't know). In any case, it's still awful having long admired the site myself. Thanks for providing this. Wayne.