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 mny 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
 Aug 31 2016 - Saudi exports 1.89b barrels of oil at SR279bnMENAFN
(MENAFN) Saudi Arabia exported almost 1.89bn barrels of crude oil in the Jan-August period of this year with an amount of SR279bn, a fall of 27 percent.Moreover, local consumption amid the same ...

 Aug 31 2016 - Egypt-IDA offers EGP4.4b to work on 37 industrial zonesMENAFN
(MENAFN) The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) proclaimed that the total number of industrial zones in Egypt reached 129, of which 77 zones are linked with their governorates.Accordingly, ...

 Aug 31 2016 - Global Mining Explosive Market 2016 Share, Trend, Segmentation and Forecast to 2021MENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Global Mining Explosive Market 2016 Share, Trend, Segmentation and Forecast to 2021 Mining Explosive -Market Demand, Growth, Opportunities and analysis of Top Key Player Forecast to ...

 Aug 31 2016 - Fullington Trailways converts to Betterez for EXPRESS bus serviceMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Fullington Trailways converts to Betterez for EXPRESS bus service Fullington Trailways live with the Betterez Motorcoach product, improving customer experience and driving ...

 Aug 31 2016 - Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism To Combat David DukeMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism To Combat David Duke Former KKK Grand Wizard and Neo-Nazi Faces Formidable Enemy NEW ORLEANS, LA, USA, August 30, 2016 ...

 Aug 31 2016 - Bizco Technologies Adds to Marketing TeamMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Bizco Technologies Adds to Marketing Team Bizco Technologies is proud to announce the addition of Nikki Ellis as Online Marketing Coordinator. LINCOLN, NEBRASKA, UNITED STATES OF ...

 Aug 31 2016 - JAIL GUITAR DOORS Returns to 'ROCK OUT 3!' at the Ford Theatres On Friday, September 9, 2016.MENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) JAIL GUITAR DOORS Returns to ''ROCK OUT 3!'' at the Ford Theatres On Friday, September 9, 2016. ROCK OUT 2! Featuring Wayne Kramer, Marshall Crenshaw, Jill Sobule, Keith Morris, Don ...

 Aug 31 2016 - LIVETOUR LOOKS FOR APPOINTING RESELLERS AND LAUNCHING MARKETPLACE FOR TRAVEL AGENTSMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) LIVETOUR LOOKS FOR APPOINTING RESELLERS AND LAUNCHING MARKETPLACE FOR TRAVEL AGENTS After Livetour new version release, many brands started using it, and based on existing users ...

 Aug 31 2016 - Dubai Desert Safari Team now offering Hatta Mountain SafariMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Those of you who are looking to experience a much more natural and wilder side of Dubai, Hatta Tour is that perfect natural outing for you. Unlike most of the desert safari tours, ...

 Aug 31 2016 - Software AG Applies Digital Business Platform to Operationalize BlockchainMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 30th 2016 - Software AG (Frankfurt TecDAX: SOW) today announced the availability of next generation Digital Business Platform capabilities that ...

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