Regardless of religion, nationality, culture, or theme, historical sites are a precious and irreplaceable legacy of man. They must be preserved when possible and rebuilt when necessary.
By Mark D. Harris
History is the story of man, who we are and where we came from. More importantly it is the story of God’s work with and for man. As such every part of it is important, even parts that don’t please us or fit our world view. Not every historical location can be saved because man today needs space just as man yesterday did. However, we need to save as much as we can. Sometimes we ruin irreplaceable artefacts through ignorance. Worst of all is the intentional destruction of historical sites by those who disagree with what they represent.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is notorious for destroying irreplaceable historical sites in Iraq and Syria, especially Christian and Muslim. The Afghani Taliban has done the same in Afghanistan, notably the Buddhas of Bamiyan (March 2001). However, some sites are shattered by other powers, often in times of war. Christians in ancient Rome devastated pagan temples. Ottomans badly damaged Christian churches and artifacts, including the Hagia Sophia, when they conquered Constantinople in 1453. Allied bombing leveled the 6th century monastery at Monte Cassino in Italy in World War II (1944). American-led forces fighting ISIS have devastated Mesopotamian historical sites, and Russian bombing has done the same.
Below is a list of historical sites that have been destroyed. We should discover what we have lost, repair what we can, and help prevent losing more in the future. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) tracks World Heritage sites, including those at risk.
|Site||Who did it||When||Source|
|Palmyra, Syria||Islamic State||Sep 2015||ISIS Destroys Another Monument at Palmyra Ruins in Syria|
|10th-century Chaldean Catholic St Markourkas Church in Mosul, Northern Iraq||Islamic State||Jul 2015||ISIL destroys historical church in Mosul|
|Citadel of the Ancient City of Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat), Northern Iraq||Islamic State||May 2015||Iraq: Isis ‘blows up UNESCO world heritage Assyrian site of Ashur’ near Tikrit http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/isis-blows-unesco-world-heritage-assyrian-site-ashur-near-tikrit-1503367|
|Many ancient sites in Kathmandu and surroundings, Nepal||Earth
|Apr 2015||Nepal’s Kathmandu valley treasures: Before and after|
|Ruins of the City of Nimrud, Northern Iraq||Islamic State||Mar 2015||ISIS Attacks Nimrud, a Major Archaeological Site in Iraq|
|Hatra Northern Iraq||Islamic State||Mar 2015||Islamic State ‘demolishes’ ancient Hatra site in Iraq|
|Assyrian Palace at Khorsabad North-eastern Iraq||Islamic State||Mar 2015||Tracking a trail of historical obliteration: ISIS trumpets destruction of Nimrud|
|Mosul Museum Northern Iraq||Islamic State||Feb 2015||Tracking a trail of historical obliteration: ISIS trumpets destruction of Nimrud|
|Mosul Library Northern Iraq||Islamic State||Feb 2015||Tracking a trail of historical obliteration: ISIS trumpets destruction of Nimrud|
|Al-Arba’een Mosque in Tikrit, Central Iraq||Islamic State||Sep 2014||URGENT: ISIS destroys historical Al-Arbain mosque in Tikrit|
|St. Elijah’s Monastery, oldest Christian monastery in Mosul, Iraq||ISIS||Aug-Sep
|Jonah’s Tomb outside Mosul Northern Iraq||Islamic State||Jul 2014||Tracking a trail of historical obliteration: ISIS trumpets destruction of Nimrud|
|13th-century shrine of Imam Awn al-Din Northern Iraq||Islamic State||Jul 2014||The Destruction of the Middle East|
|Buddhas of Bamiyan Central Afghanistan||Taliban||Mar 2001||Ancient Buddhas Will Not Be Rebuilt – UNESCO|