Notebook October 2019
Under the Syrian soil
On the imperiled excavations in the Middle East.
Among the many infamous crimes of isis—murderous bombings, beheadings, lashings, kidnappings—the destruction of archaeological heritage may seem insignificant. Compared with the barbarism committed against living human beings, surely the destruction of ancient monuments must be of secondary importance? Yet those crimes go hand in hand: isis and its affiliates were and are committed to the destruction of society and civilization both, including the memory of times, places, and peoples that contradict some of their most deeply held assumptions and beliefs.
For an American reader particularly, with our country’s relatively recent European settlement and general ignorance of the pre-Columbian Western hemisphere, the attachment to history that is felt in most other parts of the world can be difficult to grasp. But...
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