imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Subscribe Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news



CopWatch LA


A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network: africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech
printable version - js reader version - email this article - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Destruction of heritage sites in Syria raises questions about cost of democracy

by Janette Vince Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013 at 11:46 PM

Syria, similar to Iraq and Afghanistan, has suffered the loss of thousands of lives during civil wars. But it also has suffered culturally from the ravages of revolutionary conflicts by the destruction of ancient heritage sites that have stood for centuries and, like a human life, can never be replaced.

Destruction of herit...
95921156-aleppo.jpg, image/jpeg, 609x480

Syria, similar to Iraq and Afghanistan, has suffered the loss of thousands of lives during civil wars. But it also has suffered culturally from the ravages of revolutionary conflicts by the destruction of ancient heritage sites that have stood for centuries and, like a human life, can never be replaced.

There is no peace among the ruins in war torn Syria, as the systematic bombing is carried out by rebel fighters. Recently they detonated a bomb near a government tank in the abandoned ancient ruin of Roalha in the Dead Cities of Jabal al-Zawia region, according to a report by Global Post.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in Syria and hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled for their lives since unrest began in the country nearly two years ago, according to the latest estimate from the United Nations. The estimate could be higher according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who reported the statistics this year. She said in a CNN report that Syria's raging civil war has made it "increasingly challenging" to collect accurate and reliable data.

Assembling accurate information on cultural losses is even more challenging and raises questions about incalculable losses. Is it even possible to estimate the value of an antiquity in terms of the loss to future generations?

The ruination of ancient cities and the loss of antiquities from bombing and looting during wartime go largely unreported until after a war is over and the damages to infrastructure begin to accumulate. Since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, more attention is being taken to report the devastating losses as they occur. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) lists six World Heritage sites in Syria: Palmyra city and its castle of Crac des Chevaliers; the cities of Aleppo and Damascus; and the Dead Cities of Jabal al Zawai with its Roalha ruins.

The Dead Cities comprise 600 ancient ghost towns that have remained undisturbed and intact since the 8th century—until now. The bombings and destruction are not accidental; evidence shows some structures have been used as target practice and spray painted with political graffiti. In addition, organized crime has reared its head. A Lebanese antiquities dealer recently told Time magazine that he was making a fortune from would-be Syrian freedom fighters who were selling him priceless Syrian antiquities for very low prices and buying arms at inflated rates.

The Guardian last year reported the World Monuments Fund was monitoring the losses in Syria because of the serial looting of museums and archaeological sites, particularly the museums at Idlib, Dura Europos and Palmyra. Few areas have been spared extensive damage since the war started. Monuments such as the souks (markets), citadel and Umayyad mosque of Aleppo; the ancient cities of Palmyra and Apamea; and several of the country's crusader castles, including one of the most famous, Krak des Chevaliers, are counted among those wasted by war. The 2,000-year-old city of Homs has been completely destroyed, and with it two major museums, several early Christian churches and a number of Ottoman mosques. The losses are incomprehensible. However, many believe the losses pale in comparison to the need to sever from dictatorial government’s domination.

Is the loss of the remains of an ancient civilization worth freedom?

The civil wars in Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria have been fought for freedom from repressive governments with a call for democracy under the revolutionary moniker “Arab Spring.” Freedom fighters in these countries believe their cause supersedes preservation of ancient sites and artifacts, and the reckless disregard has had devastating results.

In "Fixing Historic Preservation: A Constructive Critique of 'Significance,'" Randall Mason posits the reason for historic preservation is the cultivation of society’s collective memory. But is this possible when a revolutionary’s primary directive is erase their oppressive past?

The dilemma in a revolution is that the processes of tearing down and preserving appear contradictory in ideology, particularly when the past has represented oppressive government regimes or stifling religious practices. One way revolutionaries can counter this is by making the collective landscape and its contents a banner for their cause, rather than a random collection of historic structures and antiquities without relative significance. Shedding the grip of dictatorships and smothering religious dogma can be accomplished while still preserving historic monuments as symbols of their freedom, rather than representatives of despotism.


“The Madonnas of Leningrad” is one of the most poignant stories about art preservation I have ever read. It takes place during World War II, in 1941, during the siege of Leningrad in the former Soviet Union. A former tour guide and other staff members at the Hermitage Museum removed all the paintings from the walls for safekeeping, leaving the frames hanging empty as a symbol of eventual return. The museum is then turned into a sanctuary for the dispossessed fleeing the bombing and surviving on very little food or heating. In an effort to keep a semblance of normalcy, the main character memorizes descriptions of favorite works of art and conducts tours for the distraught refugees, describing each painting as if it were still there.

Who will be the “tour guides” memorizing the cultural treasures that now only exist as phantoms of the past in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan? These countries, among others in the Middle East, have been looted and ransacked of the treasures of their past. Unlike the paintings at the Hermitage that eventually found their way back, the ruins and artifacts destroyed and looted in the Middle East, for the most part, are lost forever.

Some, however, believe the loss is worth the freedom. One writer commented in the Guardian: "Syrian heritage be damned because their heritage is dominated by, torture, murder and one man (family) rule. That's what they are fighting against. Heritage and cultural artifacts mean far less than freedom. That's why the west is free today. The least we can do is support the Arab struggle for the same - including in Syria."

Syria and the Middle East reveal a sorrowful saga of the destruction of the remains of ancient civilizations as a result of civil war. Many believe the losses are tolerable when weighed against ruthless tyranny. Still, it’s possible for future revolutionaries to be not only revered for liberty but also as “museum preservationists” and stewards of their past by ensuring their country’s collective memory remains intact by saving monuments and artifacts, so they will be there for posterity telling their stories in silent repose.

Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

Local News

Public art project aspires to save California N18 3:42PM

Songwriter, Author, Philanthropist P F Sloan Died On Nov 16 N17 4:48PM

A Plea For Support From Will B N15 4:23PM

10 Shocking Realities of the TPP N09 4:47PM

KPFK needs your VOTE ! or lose it. O31 4:51PM


KPFK is losing and reducing it's main programmers, so can Fresh ones emerge there instead? O26 5:58PM

Fall 2015 National Immigrant Solidarity Network Monthly News Alert! O26 7:58AM

A master-plan is needed to support renter protections in Northern California, & elsewhere O25 9:48PM

KPFK Updating: a coup? or failure? or.... O25 5:04PM

Kapparot Chicken Slaughter Causes Outrage: Activists Demand Change O06 1:59PM

Update on WHAT IS HAPPENING AT KPFK and what can be done & elections O05 12:39AM

A Letter (sent) to L.A. Slut Walk O03 12:51PM

Protesters Enact Symbolic "Die In" to Unwelcome Narendra Modi to Silicon Valley S28 3:52PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

US Forces South Africa To Import Sick Birds N25 9:10AM

Presidential Candidates Criticize Pfizer Merger N25 8:19AM

Turkey's Downing of a Russian Fighter Jet Moves the Doomsday Clock Very Close to Midnight N25 5:46AM

Kim Kardashian Hollywood Online Hack N25 4:51AM

NATO is harboring the Islamic State N25 4:43AM

Paraphysique de l'Etat d'urgence N25 1:23AM

Casino Capitalism and Profit Maximization N25 1:18AM

Democracy Now, Military Times, Guardian Articles On Soldiers Refusing To Drop Drones etc N24 9:10AM

Warhammer 40000 Freeblade Hack Generator N24 8:23AM

First Amendment Under Covert Attack N23 6:27PM

Insanity of the police/fbi community N23 1:35PM

No to Racism and War! N23 6:02AM

Fifa 16 Coin Generator N23 3:24AM

(A-Radio) Northern Europe 1: Musta Pispala festival in Finland N23 12:36AM

Paranoïa ou la vérité d'une société N22 11:54PM

Wicked fbi and their mischievous police friends N22 11:22AM

Mobile Strike Hack Generator Gold and VIP N22 4:02AM

“None Dare Call It Conspiracy:” How U.S. Elites Made Islamist Militants the New Red Menace N21 5:05AM


Monsanto Patenting World's Seeds, Controlling World's Food, Causing Cancer, Killing Bees, N20 9:59AM

Indigenous Hispanic areas also Economic Rights US N20 8:14AM

Paraphysique de l'hybris pirocratie N19 11:44PM

Free Kicks Tips on FIFA 16 N19 11:20PM


The Shortwave Report 11/20/15 Listen Globally! N19 5:07PM

(A-Radio) Eastern Europe 5: Anarchist Black Cross Warsaw N19 2:20PM

Paraphysique de lapalissade N19 6:17AM

Paris Attacks - Bourgeois Terrorism N18 2:03PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2003 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy