When I first heard archaeology was to be scrapped at A-Level I was not only surprised, but devastated. This is a subject that teaches our students about what it is to be human. We learn about the material culture left by our ancestors from all over the world. We discuss the concepts of culture, politics, art, identity and we do so with an open mind. Even after several years of teaching the A-Level I still find new material that keeps me in awe.
The point here is that the Assad regime has a very long history of destroying Syria's heritage sites. However with the ascent of the so-called Islamic State, the crimes against heritage committed by the Assad regime go unnoticed and it creates questionable euphoria when places like Palmyra are captured.
Expertise on the way terror groups operate will be indispensable to teams preparing to work in at-risk areas whist documentation of destruction by heritage professionals has the potential to expand our knowledge of how terror groups adapt their strategy. Furthermore there is great potential to counter terrorist narrative and build resilience to extremist ideologies using culture and heritage.
Schools should be encouraged to visit sites of significant historical meaning more than they are now. Archaeology and anthropology studies can be conducted in the deepest Mayan forests of South America, the desert towns of the Middle East, but it can be even more fascinating to our youngsters if it is right on their doorstep - as I have found in Llanelli.