The Destruction of Cultural Heritage, Archaeological Looting, and Civilization Jihad- “The common thought is that this destruction is perpetrated by “an extremist group”, namely ISIS.”
by Bill Lockwood
“Archaeological looting is a global issue that threatens the preservation of our shared cultural heritage” writes Robin Ngo in Biblical Archaeology Review in September, 2016. “In the Middle East, archaeological looting and the deliberate destruction of archaeological sites and monuments amid ongoing warfare have captured international attention.”
In a related article (11-23-16) Marek Dospel soberly warns that “Cultural heritage around the globe is constantly under threat and needs to be protected not only as a constituent of peoples’ historical memory and identity, but also as the source of future dialogue and understanding between peoples and cultures.”
“While it is inevitable that what comes down to us from the material relics of the distant past is a mere shadow of what human talent has created, the new global phenomenon of the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage can and should be prevented. Especially disturbing are images of material destruction related to immense human suffering in the Middle East, where scores of people are being killed or displaced every day and cultural heritage is being wiped out forever.”
The Ancient Lamassu
Articles in Biblical Archaeology Review have noted a number of UNESCO designated sites which have been obliterated by the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In total, thousands of sites and artifacts detailing ancient history have been destroyed by Islamic warriors. One of the cherished archaeological sites, for example, is the Nergal Gate, one of the gates into 7th century B.C. Nineveh, the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
“With sledgehammers and drills in hand, the ISIS insurgents toppled, smashed and defaced millennia-old antiquities as well as modern replicas,” Ngo lamented (ISIS Destroys Antiquities in Mosul, Iraq, 2-27-15).
Among the destroyed relics was a seventh-century sculpture of a lamassu (a human-headed winged lion). The lamassu was conceived by the ancient Assyrians to be a protective deity that guarded the Nergal Gate. Other similar sculptures at one time decorated the palace of Neo-Assyrian King Sargon II (721-705 B.C.). Sargon is mentioned in the Bible in Isaiah 20:1 as the monarch who attacked Ashdod and captured it.
Another devastating blow to historical and cultural heritages of the world is the recent destruction by Islamic warriors of a “landmark ancient Roman monument and parts of the theater in Syria’s historic town of Palmyra” (Fox News, 1-20-17).
“Militants destroyed the façade of the second-century theater along with the Tetrapylon, a cubic-shaped ancient Roman monument that sits in the middle of the colonnade road that leads to the theater.” Satellite images have verified these news reports coming out of Syria.
Also destroyed in Syria are many “ancient temples including the Temple of Bel, which dated back to A.D. 32, and the Temple of Baalshamin, a structure of stone blocks several stories high fronted by six towering columns.” The new report adds, “The militants also blew up the Arch of Triumph, which had been built under Roman emperor Septimius Severus between A.D. 193 and A.D. 211.”
The common thought is that this destruction is perpetrated by “an extremist group”, namely ISIS. This implies that if somehow the real Islam would rein-in these extremists, cultural sites would be safer. To civilization this is a fatal mistake.
Two years before his death, Mohammed was finally able to marshal enough forces to capture his old home of Mecca. Having waged relentless war against all tribal enemies on the peninsula of Arabia, he marched triumphantly into Mecca. By the time he died in 632 A.D., Islam had subjugated all Arabia. As part of this jihad Islam, led by Mohammed himself, annihilated the entire culture of the peninsula. This was not “extremist” or an example of many Muslims spinning out of Mohammed’s personal control. It is pure Sunna.
Upon Mohammed’s personal orders the entire city of Mecca was “purged” of what he perceived to be paganistic influence and all artwork, cultural artifacts, sculptures, and monuments were systematically destroyed. And so it has ever been. Civilization jihad.
Pakistan and Bangladesh used to be Hindu cultures. Where are the Hindu relics of old in these nations? The second caliph after Mohammed, Omar Ibn Al Khattab (about 645 A.D.) set fire to the library of Alexandria per the fatwa. The world itself lost several centuries of knowledge, thought, and history due to that Islamic fire. Egyptian culture was crushed.
The indigenous cultures of Afghanistan were Zoroastrian, Greek, Hellenistic, with some Buddhist and Hindu mixed in. Very little, if any, traces of those cultures remain today, and that is the way it has been since it was captured for Islam during the 7th through the 10th centuries. Today 99.8% of the Afghan population is Muslim. The same story is re-told regarding any civilization that is dominated by Islam. This cannot be explained on the basis of persuasive thought-provoking reasoning, but only on the basis of violence.
Compare America’s history. Although a Christian culture as conceived by the Founders, it did not systematically destroy every artifact or historical vestige of the cultures that preceded it, even if misinformed liberals insist that “we” somehow “annihilated” the Indian peoples. Instead, the remnants of Indian tribes are carefully preserved in museums and archaeological remains are cherished. Nor was the population of America ever forcibly brought into the Christian Church.
But with Islam it is all about Civilization Jihad. As Islam gains ground, down will come such time-honored sights such as the Washington monument, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, and certainly Moses will be removed from the U.S. Supreme Court building. The ACLU will assist in this, and Bible verses will certainly be purged from the collective American memory.
If Americans wish to honor and protect their own cultural heritages or memories, and even their own civilization which gives them their identity as a peoples, understanding the extreme danger of Islam itself is paramount. Tragic it is that with the advance of Islam the world itself loses its heritage.