Before he was killed by ISIS, the world had not heard Syrian scholar and head of antiquities in Palmyra, Khaled al-Asaad, but within a few hours, the English Wikipedia and the Arabic Wikipedia as well as the German Wikipedia had start-class articles. Which shows once again that “there is a deadline”. (and I’m indebted to Asaf Bartov for pointing out this WP essay in one of his presentations somewhere).
There is an article, Destruction of cultural heritage by ISIL. Where are the photos of the destroyed works? Is there anything in the public domain? There is also a category for “Monuments destroyed by ISIL“.
In the meantime, the Guardian has published photos of Palmrya, as it appeared before it was seized by the Islamicists.
And for anyone looking to flesh out Khaled’s Wikipedia articles, plenty of reliable sources have now published obits:
- The Guardian “The archaeologist and scholar, who held a diploma in history and education from the University of Damascus, published many books and scientific texts. Among his titles are The Palmyra Sculptures and Zenobia, the Queen of Palmyra and the Orient.”
- The Telegraph “The archaeologist had been detained and interrogated for over a month by Isil, Mr Abdulkarim told Reuters.”
- NYT “In 1963, he was appointed director of antiquities for Palmyra as well as director of its museum, positions he held until his retirement in 2003, when his son Walid took them over.”
- The Times of Israel (citing Syrian state news agency SANA and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights) “Since falling to IS, Palmyra’s ancient site has remained intact but the militant s destroyed a lion statue in the town dating back to the 2nd century. The statue, discovered in 1975, had stood at the gates of the town museum, and had been placed inside a metal box to protect it from damage.” [Lion image on Wikimedia Commons]
- BC News “Syrian antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim told AFP that Mr Asaad’s other son Mohammed and his son-in-law Khalil actively participated in the rescue of 400 antiquities as the town was being taken over by the jihadists in May.” and here:
- Born in Palmyra in 1934
- Served as director of antiquities of Palmyra from 1963 to 2003 until his retirement
- Worked with Unesco and the European Commission on Palmyra-related projects
- Most important discovery was that of the largest part of the city’s major intersection and a number of tombs around the ruins
- Reported to have written more than 20 books on Palmyra and the Silk Road
- Said to be fluent in Aramaic and translated texts from the language up until 2011
- Received honours from France, Poland and Tunisia
- Spieigel (German)
- Wall Street Journal ““City residents and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based group that monitors the conflict via a network of activists, confirmed it was Mr. Asaad’s remains. The group said he had been held by Islamic State for more than a month before he was killed. His work will live on far beyond the reach of these extremists,” Irina Bokova, director of the United Nations’ cultural agency Unesco, said Wednesday. “They murdered a great man, but they will never silence history.”Locals loyal to Islamic State accused Mr. Asaad of making contact with regime officers, the Observatory said, including his brother, a senior government security officer. Islamic State had promised to release him, it added, citing people close to Mr. Asaad. Those people called his execution a shock.