Six major ancient sites destroyed by ISIS

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, are on an iconoclastic demolition mode in various areas under their control with a specific focus on the sites of archaeological importance. They have been continuing their war in Iraq and Syria by attacking archaeological sites with excavators and explosives.

ISIS has released several videos shocking the world over the month of presenting the flaming damage caused by them to local temples and heritage sites.

ISIS controls large sections of Syria, besides western and northern Iraq. It’s difficult to stop these terrorists from despoliation and destroying the sites in their command in an area famous as the cradle of civilisation.

The terrorist group has targeted eminent ancient places and also relatively modern tombs or memorials pertaining to other Muslim sects.

Their intentions come across as more of pragmatic or criminal rather than reflecting their self-proclaimed theological conscience.

The archaeological heritage sites in Iraq and Syria are in dire need to be saved before these culturally rich countries lose them completely.

Numerous UNESCO World Heritage Site have also been destructed in and around the ISIS dominant regions.

Sites destroyed in Syria by the militant group


Palmyra encompasses the monumental remnants of a settlement that was one of the most significant traditional epicentres of the ancient world. The architecture of the city had witnessed the crossroad of exchanges between local traditions and Graeco-Roman techniques.

1,900-year-old Temple was exploded in Baalshamin. It was among the best-preserved monument in the area and it was originally dedicated to a Phoenician Storm God.


This ancient city has been a rich Roman-era commerce hub but, of late, it has become a centre for extortion and illegal trading where antique statues are sold regularly.

These sales of ancient artefacts provide the group with millions of dollars to sponsor their terror operations and remunerations.



The city of Mari thrived during the Bronze Age, and it is said to be in existence between 3000 and 1600 BC. Extensive ancient archives are found here, especially the clay tablets that signify early civilisation in the region. Allegedly, the royal palace in the city is now being looted on a regular basis and in an organised way.

Sites destroyed in Iraq by ISIS


One of the most important sites of the state, Hatra was the capital of an autonomous kingdom on the peripheries of the Roman Empire but what made it important was its prominence as the centre of trading on the Silk Road.

The city was taken over by ISIS in 2014. The group had then released a video destroying sculptures in the most prominent building of the site.



NG Maps. Source: Institute for the Study of War
NG Maps. Source: Institute for the Study of War

The city today, a part of the northern Iraq, was one of the first empires of the state, expanding through the Middle East and regulating massive sections of the ancient world between 900 and 600 BC.

Important sculptures from the city were stored in the Mosul Museum which were damaged during a rampage by the terrorists of ISIS. They smashed the half-human, half animal guardian figures named Lamassus on Nineveh’s ancient Nirgal Gate.


The city was the first capital of Assyrian Empire, detected approximately 3,200 years ago. It very evidently displays the richness of the Assyrian Emperor. It was excavated in the 1840s by British archaeologists.

ISIS is on a rampage to destroy all the remains left behind the Britisher who had sent dozens of its massive stone sculptures to museums around the world, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum in London.