The De­struc­tion of Her­itage Sites in Iraq and Syria

The Is­lamic State (ISIS) has de­stroyed and dam­aged nu­mer­ous cul­tural sites in the re­gion, claim­ing that their ac­tions are re­li­giously mo­ti­vated in elim­i­nat­ing idol­a­try. The group’s loot­ing has been used to fund their mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions. Here are some of

Asian Geographic - - Art -

Apamea Palmyra LEBANON Nin­eveh Mo­sul Mu­seum and Li­braries Mar Behnam Monastery Nim­rud

Be­yond im­proved leg­is­la­tion, ac­tivist groups have worked to come up with creative means of sal­vaging her­itage sites. Sev­eral projects seek­ing to pro­tect, pre­serve and archive threat­ened her­itage sites and lost arte­facts are work­ing to en­sure that his­tory is not lost – or at best, can be recre­ated.

One such ef­fort in­volved a pro­jec­tion of the lost Bud­dhas of Bamiyan in Afghanista­n. Built in the 6th cen­tury, th­ese an­cient sand­stone carv­ings were the world’s tallest Bud­dha stat­ues un­til they were de­stroyed by a bomb placed by the Tal­iban in 2001. Tal­iban leader Mul­lah Muham­mad Omar jus­ti­fied the de­lib­er­ate de­struc­tion of the stat­ues on re­li­gious grounds, say­ing that “Th­ese idols have been gods of the in­fi­dels”. Recre­at­ing the Bud­dhas in­volved us­ing three­d­i­men­sional laser pro­jec­tion tech­nol­ogy to recre­ate the stat­ues as a holo­gram, fill­ing the empty cav­i­ties in the cliffs with the pro­jec­tions. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port in The At­lantic, the holo­grams were the work of a Chi­nese cou­ple who

Sev­eral projects seek­ing to pro­tect, pre­serve and archive threat­ened her­itage sites and lost arte­facts are work­ing to en­sure that his­tory is not lost

Repli­cat­ing the tombs, stat­ues, tem­ples and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites is hap­pen­ing even with­out the sup­port of in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions. Artists are re­con­struct­ing the past. In Iraq, Ni­nos Tha­bet, an 18-year-old who stud­ied art at Mo­sul Uni­ver­sity, is putting his cre­ativ­ity to good use. He is work­ing on cre­at­ing minia­ture repli­cas of the stat­ues de­stroyed in the 3,000-year-old Assyr­ian city of Nim­rud, south of Mo­sul, when it was over­run. Tha­bet fled Mo­sul with his fam­ily to the Kur­dish cap­i­tal, Er­bil, and has since cre­ated more than 50 minia­tures of the now lost stat­ues. In Jor­dan, Syr­ian artists in the Zaatari refugee camp came to­gether for a spe­cial project aimed at re­con­struct­ing Syr­ian arte­facts and cul­tural sites de­stroyed dur­ing the war.

Fur­ther afield in Italy, repli­cas of sev­eral mas­ter­pieces van­dalised or de­stroyed in Syria and Iraq have been recre­ated. The repli­cas have been fea­tured in a Unesco-spon­sored

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