Friday, April 01, 2016

Progress at Palmyra

PALMYRA WATCH: Russia archaeologists ‘offer to rebuild Palmyra.’ (Times of Israel Blog). I bet they did. The Russians are certainly milking the positive publicity of the retaking of Palmyra for all it's worth, but I suppose they've earned it. Now I expect them to do a superb job on the restoration.

Meanwhile, progress: Syrian sappers say 1230 mines rendered harmless in Palmyra. According to Lieutenant Qassen Shpib of the Syrian engineer troops engaged in demining efforts, it's only half of the approximate number of explosive devices in the city (Tass).

Also, a little good news: Palmyra's dynamited temple can be restored, de-miners use robots (Reuters).
Satellite pictures taken after the 2,000-year-old temple was dynamited by the jihadi group, and other images broadcast since Syrian government forces retook the city on Sunday, show almost the entire structure collapsed in a heap of rubble.

It was one of several important monuments blown up in the city last year including the temple of Baal Shamin, a victory arch and funerary towers. The city museum, home to treasured artefacts, was ransacked and statues were smashed or defaced.

Despite the extensive damage, Maamoun Abdelkarim [Syria's antiquities chief] said that the Temple of Bel had not been pulverised and its foundations were largely intact.

Consecrated to a Mesopotamian god, the Temple of Bel later served as a Christian church and a mosque. In an inner sanctuary, carvings showed seven planets surrounded by the signs of the zodiac, and a procession of camels and veiled women.

"What was said about it all being turned to dust - it's not dust," Abdelkarim told Reuters in Damascus. "There is still a lot of the structure ... that can be reused and renovated."
Background here and links.