Renowned German Archaeologist Claims Syrian Troops Are Now Looting Palmyra

The claims came ahead of a UNESCO conference on the subject.

The remains of the entrance of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria. Photo: Maher Al Mounes/ Stringer/ Getty.
The remains of the entrance of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria.
Photo: Maher Al Mounes/ Stringer/ Getty.
The remains of the Triumph's Arch, also called the Monumental Arch of Palmyra Photo: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images

The remains of the Triumph’s Arch, also called the Monumental Arch of Palmyra. Photo: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images.

A German archaeologist has spoken out regarding Palmyra, stating that Syrian forces have been looting the ancient site since they liberated it with the help of Russian forces last month.

The world looked on with horror as ISIS bombed, defaced, looted, profited from the destruction, and terrorized the people of Palmyra. A horror which abated somehow when the news came that Syrian and Russian forces had liberated the city.

Now, Hermann Parzinger, the former president of the German Archaeological Institute, has written an article for the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in which he claims that the Syrian forces now occupying the city are also looting precious historical artefacts, AFP reports.

The Syrian army patrol ancient Palmyra in early May (2016) Photo: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images

The Syrian army patrolling ancient Palmyra in early May, 2016. Photo: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images.

“We shouldn’t act like everything is alright now. [… ] This victory has not made Bashar al-Assad and his backers the saviors of cultural heritage,” Perzinger wrote.

Perzinger went on to directly accuse Syrian troops of stealing from the ancient city and expressed his disappointment that more consideration wasn’t taken when the troops were reclaiming the city.

“Assad’s soldiers too plundered the ruins of Palmyra before the ISIS takeover, and their rockets and grenades indiscriminately pounded the antique columns and walls when this promised even the slightest military advantage,” he continued.

The remains of the entrance of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria. Photo: Maher Al Mounes/ Stringer/ Getty.

The remains of the entrance of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria. Photo: Maher Al Mounes/ Stringer/ Getty.

Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO, wrote in the German daily Tagesspiegel that the looting is not limited to Palmyra, stating that “two-thirds of the old town of Aleppo have been bombed and burned.”

“Archaeological sites are in the crossfire … and being misused as military bases,” Bokova wrote, adding that “Palmyra, which had long been insufficiently protected, has experienced indescribable horror and destruction.”

The articles came ahead of the German Government and UNESCO hosting 170 experts—including scientists, archaeologists, and architects—in a conference in Berlin starting today, in an effort to develop a plan to protect Syrian heritage in the midst of the five years of war that has killed 270,000 people so far.


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