We recently reported on the destruction by ISIS of the 2,000 year old UNESCO World Heritage site “Temple of Bel” in the ancient city of Palmyra. Now, satellite images of the destruction have surfaced that show the extent of the horrific destruction.
Sky News reports:
The ancient monument, in the Syrian city of Palmyra, had been well preserved and was considered one of the world’s most important heritage sites.
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research, which distributed the images, said: “We can confirm destruction of the main building of the Temple of Bel as well as a row of columns in its immediate vicinity.”
Palmyra resident Nasser al Thaer told the Associated Press the temple was severely damaged by “an explosion the deaf would hear” on Sunday.
He added that “the bricks and the columns are on the ground”.
Earlier this week, photos circulated by IS supporters appeared to show the extremist group blowing up the Baal Shamin temple, also in the desert city.
UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organisation, has described the destruction of these ancient structures as a “war crime”.
Earlier in August, it emerged that Khaled Assad, an 82-year-old antiquities scholar who had looked after Palmyra’s ruins for more than four decades, had been beheaded by IS.
The group, which holds territory across Iraq and Syria, regularly demolishes monuments it deems to be sacrilegious.
Academics from Oxford and Harvard Universities are planning to “flood” the Middle East with 5,000 3D cameras by the end of the year – in an attempt to preserve historic buildings at risk of destruction by Islamic State.
Should vulnerable buildings and artefacts be destroyed, the detailed images could be used as a blueprint for recreating them with 3D printers.
In the weeks before Palmyra was captured by IS in May, Syrian officials said they had moved hundreds of ancient statues to safe locations, for fear they would also be destroyed.
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