Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Castles, Ancient Treasures Under Fire in Syria—Possibly Beyond Repair

Aleppo's citadel is the latest Syrian treasure to be caught in the line of fire. The fighting that began in 2011 has taken a staggering human toll—reportedly more than 20,000 killed—and done grave damage to the country's ancient sites as well: Roman ruins, Byzantine churches, Islamic fortresses, Ottoman mosques and homes.

 The rich collection of buildings and artifacts attests to Syria's 5,000 years of civilization. "Almost all the main chapters of human civilization have a part written in Syria," said Rodrigo Martin, spokesperson for Syrian Archaeological Heritage Under Threat, a group of European and Syrian archaeologists who have tracked damage to Syria's heritage since clashes began.

 Babylonians, Greeks, and Persians all fought for control of the region, which was a crossroads for trade between Asia and Europe. Two Roman emperors, Alexander Severus and Philip the Arab, were born in Syria. For an archaeologist in the 21st century, Syria is a place where you can unearth a significant artifact in nearly any spot you turn a trowel.

Click here to read this article from National Geographic