Stories tagged Syria

Apamea, Syria: Roman Ruins in a Warzone

When the human cost of war is so unimaginably big that it is hard to speak about the damage to cultural and natural heritage, but we must see it as part of that same cost: The disaster in Syria will be felt not just by a few generations but for centuries to come. After World War II, the international community recognized the need for protecting the cultural and natural heritage in the time of conflict and UNESCO was formed. As in all human history, it seems like all those conferences, petitions, international declarations, talks and meetings failed to come up with a decisive way to prevent the destruction of life and heritage. Unfortunately, Syria is just one of the many cases of those failed attempts.

The colonnade at Apamea, following Cardo Maximus. It was built in 2nd century CE. This huge boulevard was 2 km long. Photo by Mina Bulic

The destruction of archaeological sites in conflict zones is not, as the media often reports, done mostly because of religious views of perpetrators. No, the main reason is that there is big money to be made in the black antiquities market. Some people buy and own artifacts coming from Syria, Iraq and other zones of conflict (sometimes without realizing their origin) and in this way they finance the dogs of war. You have to wonder, who the people who own artifacts from Apamea?  Whose villas and gardens are decorated by Syria’s war? It seems many of those people are coming from our “civilized” west…

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Ancient Mesopotamia: Inventing and Reinventing Our World

B0024P 0019Three successive civilizations — Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian — flourished along the “Fertile Crescent” in ancient Mesopotamia for thousands of years. Renown for their creativity, dynamism, and complexity, these cultures also provide the earliest models of civilization in the West. This fall, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Canada is celebrating the remarkable achievements and artistic sophistication of ancient Mesopotamia in a landmark exhibition: Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World.

In this interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. Clemens Reichel, Associate Curator at the ROM, about the importance of these civilizations, and of how we can better assess and understand their legacy in modern times.

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