Palmyra: A Lamentation

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I could write about the strange aesthetics of annihilation, iconoclasm, nationalism, symbolism, weaponized cultural heritage and the murder of people, a place, an archaeologist. I am supposed to be an expert in this, after all. Intimate of the ancient.

Or, on a more personal level–how Palmyra blushed toward the blue desert sky. How I was ragged sick so I didn’t take very many photos, but dragged around the site anyway, sitting in the shade of columns. Picking out details. Petting the friendly cats in the ruins. Now every time I hear about something else being destroyed I go back over the same photos. How it was the same when I found out about the Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo, the Al-Madina Souq, Crac de Chevalier, Bosra, the Dead Cities–a UNESCO listing is a death sentence. These are only the big, well-known sites, there is extensive looting, destroying sites beyond all recovery.

It is easy to be glib (oh, now we can get to everything underneath! they were recorded anyway!) or post-modern (it’s only my white, western, colonialist/orientalist thinking that makes me care about old stacked stones), or relativistic (concrete houses & Greco-roman art, it’s all the same) and I’ve struggled through and re-written these scant 267 words. Yes, I care about people, I care about places, I care about things.

But I’m supposed to be an expert in caring about heritage and I still can’t find any fucking words. (though these help tremendously)

So I have my photos. And I give what I can when I can. And wait to study the new ruins caused by murderous men.

4 responses to “Palmyra: A Lamentation

  1. Beautiful. I’ve been remembering when we went there. Wish we could have a drink and mourn together.

  2. Reblogged this on BLACKWATER LOCALITY #1 and commented:
    Sad. Knowledge is lost forever. I could see the same happening here someday. Zealots are horrible people. Remember when the Taliban did this in Afghanistan? Most people don’t.

  3. Steady CM, we’re with you on this. Be careful out there.

  4. Thank you so much for these images. Nicely researched and presented. The world’s gone stark raving bonkers. Hmm, play SHia against Sunni,l up rise the Sunni, what would you expect? Meddlers, that’s the shame of it, and for what?

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