IIC Statement on the murder of Khaled Asaad, and destruction of the temple of Baalshamin at Palmyra

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IIC, the International Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, condemns unreservedly the murder of Khaled Asaad, head of antiquities at Palmyra.

Mr Asaad was head of antiquities at the ancient ruins of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for more than fifty years. He was involved in the early excavation and conservation-restoration work at the site and carried on this work for four decades until his retirement in 2003. He worked with UNESCO and the European Commission on Palmyra-related projects. His most important discovery was that of the city’s major road networks and a number of tombs around the ruins. A scholar of Aramaic, Mr Asaad wrote more than 20 books on Palmyra and the Silk Road and his work was fundamental for an understanding of this city, an important trading hub in Antiquity between the Far Eastern and Mediterranean countries.

IIC and the international conservation community strongly condemn this senseless act of violence. The loss of Mr Asaad is a loss for us all, a symbol of the desecration of the cultural heritage of Syria and of the world.

The destruction of the temple of Baalshamin, now confirmed, is a further tragic act of desecration of our shared world heritage.

News in Conservation February 2015 issue contains a number of articles on the related conflict in Syria in particular and the effects the conflict is having on cultural issues in these troubled areas, describing local issues and experiences first hand.

Further details may be found on various international news outlets here:
- on the BBC
- on CBC
- On ZDF (in German)
- On the France24 news site
- On TVE - Noticias (in Spanish)
- on ABC