Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

War, the latest visitor to Syria's fabled Palmyra  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 16/03/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) Syria's fabled desert Greco-Roman oasis of Palmyra saw its last tourist in September 2011, six months after the uprising began. Its most recent visitors are violence and looting.Ancient Palmyra now bears the scars of modern warfare but also greed in the form of pillaged tombs.The UNESCO-listed "pearl of the desert" world heritage site in Homs province, just over 200 kilometres (130 miles) northeast of Damascus, was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world.It retains its majesty today, despite the tall-columned Temple of Baal suffering damage from shrapnel during artillery exchanges between rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.The Hellenistic building's eastern wall, its most imposing, now bears whitened slashes where the stone has been gouged by shell blasts. Mortar fire has damaged one entrance and its lintel resting on eight columns with fluted shafts.The perimeter wall has been damaged in several places. The Corinthian capitals of three pillars of the colonnade to the south of the temple have crashed to the ground.

"Armed groups arrived in February 2013 and set up in the huge palm groves to the south until the army chased them out last September," the antiquities department's Mohammed al-Assad, 44, told AFP.Government officials refer to the anti-regime opposition and rebels as "armed groups" and "terrorists".- Valley of the Tombs -"They opened fire on the town from the groves, and the temple which was in the line of fire was damaged by shelling," he added.The official said the antiquities building next to the temple was ransacked, but worse than that was the pillaging of ancient burial sites.West of Palmyra lies the kilometre-long Valley of the Tombs where rich merchants built their lavish funerary monuments thousands of years ago.

Palmyra Museum director Khalil al-Hariri shows AFP three limestone stelae and parts of a sculpted sarcophagus depicting people including children carved in high relief."They were sliced away with a chainsaw," he said. "We recovered them two days ago in the basement of a house."He does not know how many burial sites have been plundered."There are around 500 tombs, and only about 200 have been excavated so far by archaeologists," Hariri said."It's in the ones that haven't yet been excavated that the looters did their dirty work."He is grateful that at least some of the tomb robbers' booty has been recovered."Since the army took control of the region, I have got 130 pieces back. But I can't say how many tombs they came from because the thieves made sure they closed them up again," he said.- Taking advantage of turmoil -

In addition to parts of stone coffins, recovered items include busts of people long dead, showing them in Greco-Roman costume, and typical Palmyrene wall decorations.The official line is that the "armed groups" and "terrorists" want to "sell off our culture and our roots". However, it is clear that some residents have taken advantage of the turmoil in the country to turn a profit, knowing the value of such antiquities.And Hariri admits that."Police found these pieces here, in houses and in orchards and also elsewhere in the country. Fifteen pieces were even recovered at Beirut airport, ready to be flown out," he said.On Wednesday, the United Nations urged all parties in the Syria conflict to protect the country's cultural heritage."Archaeological sites are being systematically looted and the illicit trafficking of cultural objects has reached unprecedented levels," a statement said.The world body urged any art dealers or tourists who come across Syrian artifacts to be cautious.Palmyra's lucrative tourism trade is no more. Mayor Faisal al-Sherif says the last official tourist arrival was in September 2011."We used to get a quarter of a million visitors a year, and then suddenly nothing," the 57-year-old told AFP."Of Palmyra's 85,000 residents, 5,000 worked in hotels, restaurants, shops, as drivers and guides or organisers of desert excursions under canvas," he said.Tourist establishments are now shuttered.The legendary Zenobia Palace Hotel, built on the site by a French adventurer in the 1920s and named after Palmyra's famous queen, is a ransacked and half-burned shell."I hope the torment ends and the tourists return," Sherif sighed.

 


AFP




  MENA News Headlines
 Jul 1 2015 - Ban Ki-Moon Appeals for Implementing Geneva Communique on SyriaQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon has called on to put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and to find an exit from this madness. In a statement read by a ...

 Jul 1 2015 - UN: 137,000 Flee Across Mediterranean in First Half YearQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) Some 137,000 fled across the Mediterranean to Europe in the first half of the year, nearly double the amount seen in the same period last year, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said ...

 Jul 1 2015 - Lebanese Army Kills Five Nusra Gunmen in Arsal OutskirtsQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) The Lebanese Army killed five militants in northeastern border town of Arsal, while they were attempting to sneak between Arsal and its outskirts, the Army said in a statement ...

 Jul 1 2015 - Jordan- Cooking gas cylinders' price reduced, gasoline's price unchangedJordan News Agency
(MENAFN - Jordan News Agency) Cooking gas cylinders' price will be reduced, while fuel prices will remain unchanged through the month of July, Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply, Maha Ali, ...

 Jul 1 2015 - US to Remove Ban on Security Aid to BahrainJordan News Agency
(MENAFN - Jordan News Agency) The United States lifted its ban on sending security aid to the government of Bahrain due to progress on human rights issues, US State Department spokesperson John Kirby ...

 Jul 1 2015 - Obama offers help to TunisiaJordan News Agency
(MENAFN - Jordan News Agency) US President Barack Obama offered condolences to Tunisian leader Beji Caid Essebsi Monday, after the militant attack that killed 38 people and left the future of the ...

 Jul 1 2015 - Jordan - Moderate weather forecast until FridayJordan News Agency
(MENAFN - Jordan News Agency) The weather will be moderate on Wednesday in the hilly areas, relatively hot in the Badia, and hot in the Jordan Valley and Aqaba, with northwesterly moderate ...

 Jul 1 2015 - Jordan- The Amman Stock Exchange starts trading on higher noteJordan News Agency
(MENAFN - Jordan News Agency) The Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) opened trading on Wednesday with a rise to 2117 points compared to 2115 points of last session closure, according to market sources.The ...

 Jul 1 2015 - Israeli forces move into Deir al-BalahJordan News Agency
(MENAFN - Jordan News Agency) Israeli occupation forces on Wednesday morning made an incursion into east of Deir al-Balah in the central of the Gaza Strip.Palestinian sources said that Israeli ...

 Jul 1 2015 - Jordan- Exports from Zarqa reach JD30 million in MayJordan News Agency
(MENAFN - Jordan News Agency) The value of commodities re-exported with a certificate of origin from the Zarqa Chamber of Commerce and the chamber's office at the Free Zone in Zarqa, reached JD30 ...

more...


 






Google

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help