UNESCO Head Warns of “Industrial Scale” Looting in Syria

The Baal Shamin temple in Palmyra. Photo: Jospeh Eid, courtesy AFP.
The Baal Shamin temple in Palmyra. Photo: Jospeh Eid, courtesy AFP.
The Ancient City of Palmyra Photo: via the Guardian

The Ancient City of Palmyra
Photo: via The Guardian

UNESCO head Irina Bokova has warned that Syrian archaeological sites are being plundered “on an industrial scale” amid civil war and political instability.

The war-torn country is home to six UNESCO world heritage sites, and some of the world’s finest examples of historic monuments and antiquities AFP reported.

“Satellite imagery shows that archaeological sites in Syria are dotted by thousands of illegal excavations…that show there is looting on an industrial scale,” Bokova said, speaking at a conference in Sofia, Bulgaria. “Limiting the trafficking in cultural property is a top priority because it finances the actions of the extremists. The world expects from us to undertake decisive and uncompromising actions…to stop this source of funding for the extremists,” she added.

The Temple of Bel, Palmyra, Syria, in 2005. Photo: James Gordon, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Temple of Bel, Palmyra, Syria, in 2005.
Photo: James Gordon via Wikimedia Commons.

Large parts of Syria are under the control of Islamic State militants, who are believed to be using the sale of illicit antiquities to finance their terrorist activities.

According to the Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology (APSA), over 900 monuments and archaeological sites have been looted, damaged, or destroyed.

Satellite imagery of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra both before and after ISIS destroyed it. Photo: UNOSAT.

Satellite imagery of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra both before and after ISIS destroyed it.
Photo: UNOSAT

The extremists have already demolished the towers of Palmyra, which were a UNESCO world heritage site. Bokova denounced the destruction as “an impudent crime against civilization because it was a symbol of cultural dialogue and a material proof of the ability of cultures to interact.”

Related stories:

ISIS Blows Up Palmyra’s Ancient Baal Shamin Temple, Fulfilling Dark Predictions

ISIS Attack Destroys Palmyra’s Temple of Bel

Syria’s Top Museum Hides 300,000 Artifacts To Protect Them From Looting

Syria’s Cultural Artifacts Are Blood Diamonds for ISIS


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share

Article topics