The BBC has a fascinating series called “The Museum of Lost Objects,” documenting the antiquities that have been destroyed or damaged by the fighting in Iraq and Syria since 2003.
Many ancient objects destroyed or badly damaged in Iraq and Syria since 2003 are things of beauty – sculptures, tombs and temples, monasteries and minarets. Others may be less dazzling but hugely important as a source of knowledge about the ancient world.
Many of these objects were not static, existing in a final form since their creation. Most were accretions: adding new elements as the tides of history swept across them. Existing as they did in the cradle of human civilization, their very adaptability helped them survive athwart time. (You can follow their journeys through WorldView Software’s World History A and World History B.)
One historian points out that the importance of objects such as the Minaret of Aleppo pales in comparison to the quarter of a million lives lost in the Syrian civil war — the loss of these objects must be seen in the context of “to the loss of the country, the loss of the people and the loss of the way of life.” The objects should be seen as ways for us to engage with those lives.
The series has articles from BBC News Magazine’s website: Aleppo’s minaret, Tell of Qarqur, The Winged Bull of Nineveh, and Temple of Bel; as well as podcasts from BBC Radio 4. It continues next with The Lion of al-Lat.
[The featured image above is the Temple of Bel complex in the background and the agora on left center in Palmyra, Syria. The photograph was taken by Bernard Gagnon in 2010.]