ISIS pulls back from Palmyra but fear of ‘cultural atrocity’ remains

The Guardian reports: The ruins of Palmyra have long enchanted visitors, its famous queen Zeinobia occupying the same iconic status for Syrians as Cleopatra does for Egypt.

But the once-bustling Silk Road hub known in antiquity for its community of artisans and merchants of varied ethnicity and religion is now in the crosshairs of the terror group Islamic State, whose fighters have looted and destroyed historical and cultural artefacts in Iraq.

“Palmyra constitutes one of the most beautiful and impressive panoramas to have survived from classical antiquity,” said historian Tom Holland. “Its ruins are as beautiful as they are well-preserved.

“More than that, though, it is a monument to the great melting pot of cultures that bordered the eastern flank of the Roman empire: the same melting pot that would ultimately serve to incubate Islam. Its destruction is too awful to contemplate.” [Continue reading…]

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