Archive for June, 2015


How does destroying buildings save children? (It doesn’t.)

When I reported the destruction of Sheikh Mohammed Ali’s tomb, I excluded photos of another site that I had not identified. The second “landmark of polytheism” was the tomb of Nizar Abu Bahaaeddine, which is – or was – by an oasis outside Palmyra.

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Islamic State has destroyed Sheikh Mohammed Ali’s tomb, outside Palmyra, Syria

As a flood of fanboys’ tweets about “shirk” (polytheism) in Palmyra suggest, a structure built by monotheists for a monotheist has been destroyed outside Palmyra. Ceftali notified me that the Islamic State had destroyed Sheikh Mohammed Ali’s tomb, on Tal Mohamed Ali, north of Palmyra.

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Hostage to misfortune: blackmail by the Islamic State and failure by the international community

Following on from reports that the Islamic State had mined the Temple of Bel and the Roman theatre in Palmyra with TNT, which were first reported in Palmyra News Updates, a ‘former resident still in contact with relatives inside’ Palmyra told the Telegraph’s Louisa Loveluck and Magdy Samaan that ‘masked jihadists had announced their intention to rig Palmyra with explosives earlier in the week, delivering the message to residents gathered in the main market square. “We will accelerate pressure on the regime, and push the international community to stop them from shelling civilians.”‘

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Islamic State may be mining Palmyra to prevent Assad regime forces using it as a route of attack

Further reports are corroborating the Islamic State’s preparations for blowing up – or to be able to blow up – the Temple of Bel, which were first reported in Palmyra News Updates. The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdulrahman, tod Reuters that the Islamic State ‘also planted some [TNT bombs] around the Roman theater‘.

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Is it plausible that this is the Islamic State’s plan to blow up the Temple of Bel?

Assad regime air strikes on Tadmur have continued and intensified and caused many (more) civilian casualties. Meanwhile, a Facebook page for Palmyra News Updates has shared unverified evidence of the Islamic State’s preparation to blow up the Temple of Bel on Sunday or Monday (today or tomorrow).

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demolition of another mosque in Aleppo, Syria, 26th April 2015

A propaganda record of the destruction of a mosque in the Aleppo governorate of Syria was in another load of material that I was sent by @oivej at the end of April. Reinforcing the points of yesterday’s post on desecration and demolition of tombs and temples under the Islamic State, this crime does not appear to have been reported more widely than a couple of news sites and tweets (and a range of jihadist media).

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desecration and demolition of tombs and temples in Syria under Islamic State

@oivej has sent me links to Islamic State propaganda that documents the demolition of a temple in Alalianih (in the province of Damascus), demolition of graves and tombs in a village (in the province of Aleppo) and demolition of seemingly recent, aniconic graves in a cemetery in Tadmur (in the province of Homs), the last of which has been reported by Johnlee Varghese in the International Business Times.

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According to antiquities trade lobbyist Peter Tompa, ‘you can’t find [coins] without a metal detectors’.

On the question of why a lobbyist would characterise cooperation between archaeologists and tradespeople as a frenzy among archaeologists, the lobbyist in question says that it was ‘humor/satire/irony‘. A work of auto-parody? But he has said something else even more curious…

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Why would a lobbyist characterise cooperation between archaeologists and tradespeople as a frenzy among archaeologists?

While antiquities trade lobbyist Peter Tompa believes that claims of significant connections between paramilitary violence and antiquities trafficking are ‘hyped‘, ‘dubious’, ‘wild’propoganda [propaganda]’, he finds the news that Islamic State fighters carried heavy weapons, identification material, communication equipment and a book on ancient coins so unsurprising that he finds it literally ridiculous.

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Was the plaque in Finland sold on the French market with an accurate description and estimate, then resold into the Russian market with an inaccurate description and estimate?

[Original title: Were the antiquities going to Russia from Syria or Iran or France?]

On the 5th of June, it was reported that ‘Isis-looted treasures’ had been ‘seized en route to Russia’, then that an ‘”Isis looted” Syrian Ottoman ceramic bound for Russia’ had been ‘seized in Finland‘. Unfortunately, the speech marks in the second headline were supposed to undermine the first, but sounded like confirmation. More troublingly, every piece of information about the ceramic in both reports appears to have been wrong.

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