Who Kills Archaeologists?


I rarely blog about ‘the news’ but yesterday’s news deserves comment about the latest atrocity by Isis, who took over the ancient ruins of Palmyra, Syria in May 2015.

Many news outlets, including The Independent and The Guardian have reported the capture, interrogation and torture for over a month and then public execution on Tuesday 18th August of Khaled al-Asaad, the Head of Antiquities at Palmyra’s museum and 82 year-old archaeologist.

His decapitation took place in the square outside of the museum. Subsequently his body is reported to have been suspended from a Roman column amidst the ruins of the ancient city that he had spent his life working to study and restore.

Isis have destroyed shrines, but not the majority of the Roman-period ruins. However, among the many other terrible events and killings in Syria in recent years, Isis have now killed an archaeologist, not incidentally but because he was an archaeologist. Unlike innocent locals…

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