Plea not to create a Disneyland of relics

The TimesBel Trew, Cairo
Some of the world’s leading experts on Syrian archaeology warned against hastily rebuilding monuments shattered by Islamic State to create a fake “Disneyland” in Palmyra.

Three of the most famous emblems of the 2,000-year-old Unesco world heritage site were destroyed by Isis during its ten-month occupation last year. The Temples of Bel and Baalshamin, as well as the Arch of Triumph, were destroyed with explosives between August and October. The temples represented some of the best-preserved examples of first and second-century architecture, offering a glimpse into a city that once housed 200,000 people.

Maamoun Abdulkarim, director of the Syrian antiquities department, told The Times that it would take only five years to reconstruct the city.

He said that enough of the decoration, stonework and columns of the three sites that make up Palmyra remained to allow reconstruction, for which it would seek Unesco approval.

Other experts warned that hasty efforts would damage Palmyra further. Archaeologists believe that reconstructing it quickly would create a modern site on ancient ground.

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