Antiquities Coalition Releases “Mapping Culture Under Threat” Resource
January 21, 2016
In Wake of Most Recent ISIS Destruction at St. Elijah’s Monastery
Interactive Map Shows Scale of ISIS Destruction & Threats to Cultural Heritage Sites in Middle East & North Africa
The world learned Wednesday of ISIS’ recent destruction of St. Elijah’s, the oldest Christian Monastery in Iraq. Its demolition is just the latest of hundreds of heritage sites targeted by ISIS and other violent extremist organizations in the March of Destruction across the Middle East.
The Antiquities Coalition has been closely monitoring ISIS’ campaign of cultural cleansing. To provide graphical representation of cultural crimes committed by ISIS and other violent extremist organizations in the region, the Antiquities Coalition has created the Culture Under Threat Map, which tracks instances of deliberate targeting of cultural heritage for destruction in the Middle East and North Africa.
“In destroying treasured sites like St. Elijah’s, Palmyra, the Mosul Museum, and the Mosque of the Prophet Younus,” said Deborah Lehr, chair and founder of the Antiquities Coalition, “ISIS seeks to intimidate and erase the heritage of Iraq and Syria’s diverse communities — an effort that has targeted Muslims, Christians, and numerous ethnic minorities alike.”
The Antiquities Coalition created the Culture Under Threat Map to illustrate losses to date and threatened areas where lives and history which remain at risk. “Our hope is that this map will help raise awareness about the extent of the destruction that has been wrought by ISIS on our shared heritage,” Lehr said, “These attacks against culture are first and foremost attacks against the people of Iraq, Syria, and the entire region.”
“ISIS also traffics in stolen antiquities using illicit profits to fund their global terror campaign. Their crimes of war also damage the future foundations of peace, stability, and economic growth for Iraq and Syria, which rely on their rich cultural heritage for a shared sense of national identity and for job creation and investment,” Lehr continued.
About The Antiquities Coalition’s Web Based Resources
- The Antiquities Coalition’s interactive map only includes museums and sites designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) whose information is publicly available so as not to reveal to ISIS the details of other critical but lesser known locations of cultural, historical, and religious history.
- The destruction in the countries examined has revealed at least 230 sites that have been deliberately targeted or destroyed by ISIS and other violent extremist organizations. Destroyed heritage includes significant monuments from the ancient, Greco-Roman, Islamic, and modern periods alike.
- The Culture Under Threat Map currently shows nearly 700 heritage sites throughout the 22 states of the Arab League — 209 UNESCO World Heritage and Tentative List Sites (34 of which are in Iraq and Syria), 230 damaged or destroyed sites, and 277 museums.
BEFORE & AFTER:
- The Antiquities Coalition new resources also include a “Before and After” look at sites wiped from the map by extremist groups in the Middle East and North Africa since the 2011 Arab Spring.
Lehr is available in Washington, D.C., and by phone. For more information, contact Sarah Courtney at Sarah@WardCircleStrategies.com.