Tuesday, March 29, 2016

“80% of architecture” Site of Palmyra were not affected by the Islamic State – The World

Le Monde | • Updated | By

The archaeological site of Palmyra, on 27 March 2016.

After the reconquest, Sunday, March 27, Palmyra by Syrian government troops, backed by Russian aviation, what about the state of the ancient city from the hands ten months of the jihadist Islamic state organization (EI)? According Maamoun Abdulkarim, Director of Antiquities and Museums of Syria (DGAM), reached by phone, “80% of the architecture of the archaeological site were not affected, the colonnade, the agora, theater, ruins of the baths [Diocletian], temples Nebo and Allat “ as shown in an aerial view taken from a Russian drone .

Le Bel temple in Palmyra. Upstairs, in 2014, before its destruction by the Islamic state. Downstairs, on 27 March after the recovery of the city by the Syrian army.

“After the destruction of temples and Bel Baalshamin [in August 2015] , the triumphal arch and a dozen funeral towers, fifties officials stayed behind mobilized the population says Director, to know Daech [Arabic acronym EI] there would protests if the destruction continued. They stopped. “

” clandestine excavations “

Archaeologist himself hailed abroad by the scientific community for his unwavering commitment to safeguard the Syrian heritage, such as by Irina Bokova, Director General of Unesco, or Francesco Bandarin, Director for growing the agency, Mr. Abdulkarim added that “the destruction of Bel temple Palmyra sorry. I was not alone in this struggle, a cultural battle to safeguard the heritage of all Syrians, heritage of humanity. “ Nevertheless. After the destruction, looting continued, he acknowledges: “There was a lot of clandestine excavations, tombs were looted, but we have no details. “

Besides the Arab citadel that was damaged in the fighting, the Archaeological Museum was ransacked. Four hundred sculptures had been evacuated before the arrival of the EI. Outsize because too heavy, statues and high reliefs were overthrown, the severed heads, hammered faces, like the massacre in Mosul Museum, in Iraq, there is one year. “This is dramatic, the museum is in a terrible state” , laments Michel Al-Maqdisi, head of excavations and archaeological studies of Syria from 2000 to 2012, which still fumbling in the enclosure temple of Bel in 2011.

Oasis blossomed in the desert between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean, the ancient Tadmor of the Bible became the turn of our era, the I st century BC to II th century AD, a prosperous city. On the steps of the Eastern Roman Empire, Palmyra was the hub of a rich caravan trade, as Hatra in Iraq destroyed by the EI a year ago.

Semitic tribes , head of caravans of hundreds of camels – as evidenced by the drawings on the spot of Louis-François Cassas, in 1785, the first French to venture into the wilderness – ferrying silk, spices, precious stones, from China, India, and incense from Arabia who tore for gold in Rome. These are the palmyréniennes tribes who financed the building stone of the ancient city of size, combining the Greco-Roman vocabulary Semitic codes

Read also:. In pictures: the ancient city Palmyra before fighting

Demining Site

Can we speak already of reconstruction? Time for clearance of the site. “some explosives is seen everywhere,” says Mr. Al-Maqdisi. The condition of the buildings will dictate the future. The Lion, huge piece of 15 tons that sat in the garden of the museum, was knocked down, but all the elements are there, ready to be reassembled. As is the case, also, the triumphal Arc. For the two main shrines, and Bel Baalshamin is another case

The archaeologist is prudent. “This will take forever. We must give ourselves the time to reflect, take stock and inventory. “ Rebuild Cella – the building dedicated to the cult – the Bel temple? “Can not , he says. It’s madness, it exploded. “ The jihadists were so packed the temple dynamite explosion that lasted three days, until cut into pieces the sanctum dedicated to Bel, the Lord.

Mr. Al-Maqdisi recalls that in 1930, during the French mandate, the architect Robert Amy was restored under the leadership of Henri Seyrig – father of actress Delphine Seyrig and archaeologist – the Cella, who was standing . “And it took ten years. Palmyra, these are not the mausoleums of Timbuktu mud brick. It is like the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, we can not rebuild. We must see things very calmly, wisely. Unesco she will send experts and find the money to carry out this program? “, questions the archaeologist.

Maamoun Abdulkarim, he is confident. If it advances within five years for reconstruction, he knows the limits. “In the case of the two temples and Bel Baalshamin, we will evaluate the percentage of reusable stones and blocks to replace he told . The door of the Bel temple stands as the podium. We’ll see how far reconstruct buildings. This is the work of experts, with the ratification of the Scientific Committee. “ A meeting is already planned for Paris in his presence, Unesco, 1 st of April.

This image Theatre the ancient city seized by a Russian drone was unveiled Sunday, March 27, the official television of Moscow. The Russian support for Syrian forces was decisive to retake the city.


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