Islamic fundamentalists destroy archeological treasures in Syria

In Syria, Islamic fundamentalists destroy archaeological treasures such as Byzantine mosaics and Greek and Roman statues because their portrayal of human beings is contrary to their religious beliefs.

Patrick Cockburn writes on the Destruction of the Idols:

The systematic destruction of antiquities may be the worst disaster to ancient monuments since the Taliban in Afghanistan dynamited the giant statues of Buddha at Bamiyan in 2001 for similar ideological reasons.

In mid-January the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), an al-Qa’ida-type movement controlling much of north-east Syria, blew up and destroyed a sixth-century Byzantine mosaic near the city of Raqqa on the Euphrates…

Other sites destroyed by Islamic fundamentalists include the reliefs carved at the Shash Hamdan, a Roman cemetery in Aleppo province. Also in the Aleppo countryside, statues carved out of the sides of a valley at al-Qatora have been deliberately targeted by gunfire and smashed into fragments.

A sixth-century Byzantine mosaic near Raqqa on the Euphrates which was blown up by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, opposed to the depiction of the human form, in January.

Islamic iconoclasm is nothing new. However, the deliberate targeting of mosaics and statues seen as profane by Islamic fundamentalists currently occupying parts of Syria is a cultural and archeological tragedy in the making. Antiquities that have survived invasions and wars for 5,000 years may soon be in rubble.

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