ISIS Blows Up 2,000-Year-Old Baalshamin Temple In Palmyra, Syria

ISIS destroyed the second “most significant surviving temple” in the city of Palmyra in Syria, which was dedicated to the ancient god Baalshamin. The destruction is the latest in a growing list of attacks against ancient Middle Eastern culture.

Syria’s antiquities chief, Maamoun Abdulkarim, told the AFP about the monument’s destruction using a different name for ISIS.

“Daesh placed a large quantity of explosives in the temple of Baal Shamin today and then blew it up causing much damage to the temple.”

He added, “the cella (inner area of the building) was destroyed and the columns around collapsed.”

According to the BBC, Abdulkarim said the terrorist group blew up the temple on Sunday, but the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported it already happened roughly a month ago.

Residents fleeing the city confirmed ISIS was placing explosives in the ancient structure about one month ago.

In any case, archaeologists dated the monument back to 17 C.E. It was dedicated to the Phoenician storm god Baalshamin.

UNESCO described the ruins that contained Baalshamin’s temple a site of “outstanding universal value.” With ISIS still firmly in control of Palmyra and the surrounding territory, the historic sites remain in critical danger.

ISIS first stormed Palmyra on May 21, prompting fears for the area’s antiquities. Abdulkarim recently said, “Our darkest predictions are unfortunately taking place.”

In July, photos emerged of the group destroying artifacts looted from the world heritage site. Yahoo! News reports they’ve also conducted executions in a Roman-area theater and destroyed the famous Lion Statue of Athena.

The museum has been converted into a prison and courtroom as well.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the group also recently executed Khaled al-Asaad, an 81-year-old archaeologist working in the city and then mutilated his body.

Likewise, they’ve destroyed a number of ancient sites in Iraq.

The group believes that the antiquities are idolatrous to their extreme interpretation of Islam. The Islamists even believe grave markers can take worship away from God.

That belief means almost everything in Palmyra is at risk.

The name Palmyra first appeared in 19th century B.C.E on a stone tablet, when it was just a stopping point for caravans on the Silk Road traveling between the Gulf and Mediterranean.

Around the year 400, the city rose to prominence while part of the Roman Empire. Many of the ancient Roman columns still stand there today.

Whether they’ll stay intact is unclear so long as ISIS is in control of Palmyra.

[Image Credit: Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia Commons]