A world renown Syrian archeologist, 82 year old Khaled al-Asaad was beheaded by ISIS this week, his body hung from an ancient Roman pillar in the middle of the town square in the historic city of Palmyra.
He is a hero in every sense of the word – sacrificing his life to protect the ancient history he was preserving.
You see, Khaled al-Asaad is the head of antiquities in Palmyra and under his care were ancient ruins such as the Temple of Ba’al, an ancient theater and a famous 2,000-year-old colonnade. Since ISIS entered the city, decrying all ancient artifacts as apostasy, al-Assad was beside himself and decided to stay to see if he could convince ISIS to spare these priceless pieces of history.
The Syrian government ordered many of the movable artifacts into a “safe place.” Once ISIS moved in they demanded that al-Assad show them to the hiding spot – presumably so they could destroy them. He refused, and continued to refuse during a month-long stay in captivity, undergoing interrogation after interrogation.
He was executed this week in front of a reported “dozens” of people. His charges according the the Guardian were: Loyalty to Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad, maintaining contact with senior regime intelligence and security officials and managing Palmyra’s collection of “idols.”
According to the BBC, Abdalrazzaq Moaz, co-director of cultural heritage initiatives at the American Schools of Oriental Research had this to say:
“It was hard for him to see his city under the control of these people, so he insisted on staying there,I’m sure that he was trying to convince them to not really do damage to the antiquities and the site. So for that he was killed.”
RIP Khaled al-Asaad, your sacrifice on behalf of the preservation of our shared human history will not be forgotten.
According to reports, a renowned Syrian scholar was decapitated and his body hung from a Roman column in the ancient ruins of Palmyra, reportedly because he refused to lead ISIS militants to the valuable artifacts he had been charged with looking after.
Khaled al-Asaad, 82, spent more than 50 years as the head of antiquities in Palmyra, home to famous Syrian ruins like, according to the New York Times, the Temple of Ba’al, an ancient theater and a famous 2,000-year-old colonnade.
The militants were apparently searching for antiques which the Syrian government had moved to a “safe place” shortly before ISIS captured the city. Al-Asaad apparently refused to reveal the location during repeated interrogations.
Should we be doing more to protect ancient sitesaround the world? Does their destruction cause more damage than we realize? Sound off in the comments below!