Over the past year, one of the biggest groups dominating the news has been the radical Islamic group known as ISIS. Their extremist views and incredibly violent and public actions have caused fear across the globe. However, it’s not just the physical destruction that has had an effect on humankind, but other actions as well.
The Middle East, where ISIS is based, is also known as the Fertile Crescent, or the base area of evolution and the development of modern society. Aside from the societal history of the area, it is the home of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, which has caused much conflict over the years.
There are many ancient sites and temples that have been unearthed there through archaeological excavation and preservation done by the local people. Many of these temples are still used for worship today. These ancient landmarks have been contested over because of prejudice and cultural intolerance; both of which are key components of ISIS’s platform.
As a result, they have been targeting these ancient sites and relics because they do not adhere to their own beliefs. Many of these sites are being decimated from the bombings of the area by ISIS militants; one of these sites is Palmyra in Syria. Many groups in the Middle East, especially ISIS, have hated Syrians.
The Temple of Bel, a relic of Palmyra, has been a place of worship for Syrians for centuries, until recently. As of Aug. 27, the extensive attacks on the temple have finally destroyed it completely, a claim that has been confirmed by the United Nations. Archaeologists have been doing their best to document and preserve the site even through ISIS’s attacks. In fact, ISIS beheaded the former general manager for antiquities and museums in Palmyra, who had been working on the site for the past 40 years earlier in the month, making the temple’s destruction easier.
Now, all that’s left is photographs of the temple. This unnecessary destruction of ancient landmarks has been the bane of archaeologists’ existence everywhere. If events like these continue, our small window into the history of mankind will be shut forever.
Alexa Story is a writer for The Spectator.