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ISIS’ Destruction of Antiquities… and Archaeologists

saving-syrian-antiquities-isis-pleitgen-pkg-00010218-large-169Every day, antiquities in Iraq, Syria, and a number of neighboring countries are being looted by ISIS operatives. Often, they are intent on funding their insurgency by the sale of such.

National Geographic states, “In one region of Syria alone, the group reportedly netted up to $36 million from activities that included the smuggling of plundered artifacts.”

Satellite images show the ancient city of Apamea dating from the time of Alexander the Great. The ISIS-Destroyed-Antiquities-map from July 2011 looks like a regular desert map with some images; the same map from April 2012 is pockmarked and blighted with thousands of looters’ holes.

I’m looking at a June 2014 photo of a Syrian policeman patrolling the Roman ruins of Palmyra. This week, the whole place was dynamited by ISIS, ruins several stories tall. But not before two trucks packed full of antiquities by museum workers made it out at the last minute, being fired on by ISIS, with some workers being hit in the attack.

beheaded-syrian-scholar-refused-to-lead-isis-to-hidden-palmyra-antiquities-1439988107-1031The archaeologist and antiquities scholar who had worked there for years took steps to protect and spirit away 95% of anything small enough to be moved. And he refused to divulge their whereabouts. Khaled Asaad was beheaded just one week ago, the 82-year-old’s body hanged from a column.

As Ret. Lt. Col. Ralph Peters said in a recent interview, “Terror works. You don’t fight it with reason. We must be willing to kill every last one of them.”

First of all, we care for the thousands of people being herded up by ISIS, murdered or enslaved isis destroysacross the Middle East and North Africa. Secondly, the antiquities due to their intrinsic value and their money-making ability, are something to care about.

Many have argued that there is nothing that anyone can do. Put a guard or two at a site and they’ll be dead meat in no time. It’s happened already.

Even if the site is holy to Muslims, such as the traditional tomb of the prophet Jonah in Mosul, Iraq, also holy to Christians, ISIS still blew it to smithereens last summer.

isisidiotsSo increased security doesn’t work, unless the US had agreed to bomb the advancing ISIS horde as they rushed through the desert to the caravan post of Palmyra. But they didn’t.

And reason doesn’t work in sites that should be of interest to Muslim. These guys are thugs, pure and simple.

Here’s a thought: how about collectors STOP BUYING ARTIFACTS coming from Syria or Iraq? 1391098619291041933Keep in mind, that many middlemen know how to launder the finds in order to say they came from another site nearby.

Don’t buy it. Just say no.

You will be saving lives of archaeologists, museum workers, and soldiers. You will be cutting off a major source of ISIS’ funding.

So they won’t be able to sell the stuff. But then that means that they will most likely blow it all up.

Not if we blow them up first.  The ISIS guys, not the antiquities.  Really. That’s about the only answer at this point.


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