The Temple In Palmyra And Five Other Treasures Lost To The World Through The 'Cultural Cleansing' Of ISIS

The recent destruction of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra by a ragtag of black-hooded extremists is the latest expression of cultural savagery to beset a region locked under the sway of the Islamic State group. After 2,000 years, the iconic columns were blown to rubble, with satellite imagery taken over Syria confirming the loss.

Camels go past stone pillars, a relic of the Roman Empire, in the desert city of Palmyra, central Syria, on Oct. 1, 2010

The demolition of iconic buildings and ancient monuments gives the group what they want and need -- world attention -- while looting provides raft of antiques to sell on the black market.

This is a familiar trope for IS, who have moved across Iraq and Syria erasing the edifices that mark the region’s vibrant and diverse history with hammers and power tools.

Here are five other ancient treasures erased by the bigotry of a raw and distorted faith.


An April 11, 2015 screen grab from a video purporting to show militants destroying the ancient Iraqi Assyrian city of Nimrud

The Islamic State bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud in March. A “depraved act,” cried US Secretary of State John Kerry, who lambasted the organisation for its "bankrupt and toxic ideology.” The city, which sat 20 miles south of Mosul, was part of the ancient Assyrian Kingdom and boasted ancient frescoes.


Another ancient site to fall in March was Khorsabad, once the capital of the Assyrian empire, which sits 20 miles northeast of Mosul. The ancient city was abandoned early in the 6th century and though many of its carved stone reliefs had long since been moved, the buildings that remained were flattened by IS.

Mosul Museum

A February 26, 2015, screen grab showing a militant using a power tool to destroy a winged-bull Assyrian deity at the Museum in Mosul, Iraq

Mosul Museum, the second largest museum in Iraq, boasted ancient Assyrian artifacts and stone sculptures, many of which were destroyed by sledgehammer by the Islamic State group earlier this year. The annihilation was filmed and posted on across the group's social networks.

Jonah's Tomb

Also in Mosul, Jonah’s tomb was part of the Mosque of the Prophet Yunus, said to be the burial site of the biblical character swallowed by the great fish. Video released in 2014 purportedly showed members of ISIS obliterating the ancient grave.


An April 3, 2015, screen grab from a n ISIS video showing a militant hammering at a face on a wall in Hatra

Sitting 70 miles southwest of Mosul, the city of Hatra was captured by the Islamic State group in early 2014, with reports soon emerging that it had been destroyed. A UNESCO spokesman said at the time: "The destruction of Hatra marks a turning point in the appalling strategy of cultural cleansing underway in Iraq."

Victims of the Islamic State

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