Radical Islamists with Hammers vs. Ancient Syrian Artifacts: Islamists with Hammers WinPosted: May 22, 2014
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters smash 3,000-year-old Assyrian statue in latest act of cultural genocide
For The Times of Israel, Ilan Ben Zion reports: Fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a radical militia that controls a large swath of eastern Syria, confiscated and destroyed illegally excavated antiquities from an ancient Mesopotamian site.
In an act of cultural genocide strikingly similar to the Taliban’s demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in 2001, the ISIL fighters appear – in pictures recently uploaded by a group working to protect Syria’s rich historical heritage — to smash a 3,000-year-old Neo-Assyrian statue illegally removed from a nearby archaeological site. Another image shows a man placing his foot — an act of disrespect in Arab culture — on the face of the Assyrian statue before its destruction.
Last month, the Syrian antiquities authority said in a statement that it had received notice that artifacts that “appear to be the result of an unauthorized digging” had been plundered from Tell Ajaja, the ruins of the Assyrian provincial capital Shadikanni on the Khabur River, a tributary of the Euphrates.
At least one of the items photographed and published by the Association for the Preservation of Syrian Archaeology appeared among those recently confiscated by ISIL.
The pictures, taken in Syria’s far eastern Hasakeh Province, were also said to be of artifacts removed from Tell Ajaja. The site lies approximately 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of the modern provincial capital of Hasakeh and 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Iraqi border.
It was not immediately clear from the photographs whether the statue that was smashed was genuine. A Tel Aviv Assyriologist who preferred anonymity said that, based on the photos, the statue appeared to be authentic, “although it could be a copy placed outside the museum [in Hasakeh],” he added with due caution.
Gaston Maspero, the 19th century French archaeologist, wrote that in the ninth century BCE the palaces of Shadikanni “were decorated with winged bulls, lions, stelae, and bas reliefs carved in marble brought from the hills of Singar.” Similar artifacts appear to be among those recently plundered…(read more)
lan Ben Zion is a news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.
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