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Baal Shamin Temple in Palmyra Destroyed by Isis

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Temple_of_Baal-Shamin,_Palmyra-2010Temple of baal-shamin-palmira-temple-2015The Islamic State group on Tuesday August 25 2015 published images showing the destruction of the Baal Shamin temple in Syria’s Palmyra, after international condemnation of the act.

The series of images showed militants placing barrels and small containers, presumably containing explosives, into the temple, as well as similar containers placed on parts of its columns.

The Temple of Baalshamin was an ancient temple in the city of Palmyra, Syria, dedicated to the Canaanite deity Baalshamin. The temple’s earliest phase dates to the late 2nd century BC. It was rebuilt in 131 AD, while the altar before the temple is dated to 115 AD. With the advent of Christianity in the 5th century AD, the temple was converted to a church. Uncovered by Swiss archaeologists in 1954–56, the temple was one of the most complete ancient structures in Palmyra.

In 1980, the structure was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. As UNESCO puts it, “the art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, married Graeco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences.”

The head of the UN’s cultural watchdog, Irina Bokova, called the act a “new war crime and an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity.”

Palmyra ancient ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site and IS’s capture of the town on May 21 raised concerns the group would lay waste to it as it has done with heritage sites under its control elsewhere.

Historical Section of Sana’a, Yemen Recently Destroyed

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sana'aA historic section of the capital of Yemen, Sana’a, which has recently become a stronghold for Houthi rebels was bombed on May 11th by a coalition of Saudi-led Arab states. The World Heritage site that has been inhabited for more than two Milena contains over 6,000 houses, hammams, and mosques built before the eleventh century, and was recently restored by UNESCO in  the 1980s. It is one of the four World Heritage sites in Yemen and have been on the UNESCO tentative list for 13 years.

The coalition also carried out several airstrikes in Saa’dah, partially destroying Al-Hadi Mosque, the oldest Islamic learning center in the center of the Arabian Peninsula at 1,100 years old, and on the  city of Barakish. “I condemn these destruction and I call on all parties to keep cultural heritage out of the conflict,” says UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in a statement that asked those fighting to respect international treaties, namely, the 1954 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and the 1972 World Heritage Convention. “I am particularly distressed by the news concerning air strikes on heavily populated areas such as the cities of Sana’a and Saa’dah,” she continued. “In addition to causing terrible human suffering, these attacks are destroying Yemen’s unique cultural heritage, which is the repository of people’s identity, history, and memory, and an xceptional testimony to the achievements of the Islamic civilization.”

New World Cultural Heritage Approval – The Forth Bridge (United Kingdom) 

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The World Heritage Committee, during it’s 39th session on June 28, 2015-July 8, 2015 approved the inscription of a cultural site in UK for inclusion on the World Heritage List. 

forthThe Forth Bridge (United Kingdom) — This railway bridge spanning the estuary of the Forth River in Scotland is the world’s longest multi-span cantilever bridge. It opened in 1890 and continues to carry passengers and freight. Its distinctive industrial aesthetic is the result of a forthright and unadorned display of its structural components. Innovative in style, materials and scale, the Forth Bridge is an important milestone in bridge design and construction during the period when railways came to dominate long-distance land travel.

Pink Lake Turned Into a Vast Salt Desert

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Including 3 new pictures of  Maharloo (August 2015)
by Farzad Arian.

Maharlo-farzad-aryan1“Maharloo” or “Pink lake”, located 27 kilometers southeast of Shiraz, Iran, and considered as a beautiful salt lake that was flourishing with abundance volume of water just a few years ago has now have completely dried up and turned into a vast salt desert. Experts contribute this situation to the plan-less use of underground water resources and un-regulated building of dams over the rivers that use to end in the lake. Unfortunately, Maharloo is only one of the last additions to a long list of rivers and lakes that have died or are dying due to such careless exercises.

Maharloo, photographed in 2011

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Maharloo, August 2015

 Maharlo-farzad-aryan3 Maharlo-farzad-aryan2

Director of Antiquities and Museum in Palmyra killed by ISIS

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2741Today. August 19. 2015 Syrian state antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim said Khaled al-Asaad, 82, who worked for more than 50 years as head of antiquities in Palmyra, was killed by Isis.

Asaad had been held for over a month before being murdered. Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said he had learned from a Syrian source that the archaeologist had been interrogated by Isis about the location of treasures from Palmyra and had been executed when he refused to cooperate.

Before the city’s capture by Isis, Syrian officials said they moved hundreds of ancient statues to safe locations out of concern they would be destroyed by the militants. Isis was likely to be looking for portable, easily saleable items that are not registered.

Sculpture “The Lion: dedicated to Cecil

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sesil-lionAccording to the Radio France, Parviz Tanavoli, an Iranian sculpture has dedicated one of his works, known as “the Lion” to Cecil, with the goal of helping the Animal Protection societies. Cecil was a lion that was killed by an American hunter in a natural preserve parks of Zimbabwe. He was one of the most popular lions known all over the world and his kill created a wave of sorrow and protest from the part of animal lovers. Parviz Tanavoli has said: “The savage slaughter of Cecil in Zimbabwe has broken my heart and I have dedicated one of my latest lion sculptures to commemorate his name in the hope of having contributed to the process of stopping violence towards living creatures”.

New World Cultural Heritage Approval -Necropolis of Beth She’arim (Israel) 

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The World Heritage Committee, during it’s 39th session on June 28, 2015-July 8, 2015 approved the inscription of a cultural site in Israel for inclusion on the World Heritage List.

israelNecropolis of Beth She’arim—a Landmark of Jewish Revival (Israel)– Consisting of a series of catacombs, the necropolis developed from the 2nd century BCE as the primary Jewish burial place outside Jerusalem following the failure of the second Jewish revolt against Roman rule. Located southeast of the city of Haifa, these catacombs are a treasury of artworks and inscriptions in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. Beth She’arim bears unique testimony to ancient Judaism under the leadership of Rabbi Judah the Patriarch, who is credited with Jewish renewal after 135 CE.

New World Cultural Heritage Approval – Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District (Germany)

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The World Heritage Committee, during it’s 39th session on June 28, 2015-July 8, 2015 approved the inscription of a cultural site in Germany for inclusion on the World Heritage List. 

germanySpeicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus (Germany)— Speicherstadt and the adjacent Kontorhaus district are two densely built urban areas in the centre of the port city of Hamburg. Speicherstadt, originally developed on a group of narrow islands in the Elbe River between 1885 and 1927, was partly rebuilt from 1949 to 1967. It is one of the largest coherent historic ensembles of port warehouses in the world (300,000 m2). It includes 15 very large warehouse blocks as well as six ancillary buildings and a connecting network of short canals. Adjacent to the modernist Chilehaus office building, the Kontorhaus district is an area of over five hectares featuring six very large office complexes built from the 1920s to the 1940s to house port-related businesses. The complex exemplifies the effects of the rapid growth in international trade in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

New World Cultural Heritage Approval – Rjukan-Notodden (Norway)

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The World Heritage Committee, during it’s 39th session on June 28, 2015-July 8, 2015 approved the inscription of a cultural site in Norway for inclusion on the World Heritage List. 

rjukanRjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site (Norway)— Located in a dramatic landscape of mountains, waterfalls and river valleys, the site comprises hydroelectric power plants, transmission lines, factories, transport systems and towns. The complex was established by the Norsk-Hydro Company to manufacture artificial fertilizer from nitrogen in the air. It was built to meet the Western world’s growing demand for agricultural production in the early 20th century. The company towns of Rjukan and Notodden show workers’ accommodation and social institutions linked by rail and ferry to ports where the fertilizer was loaded. The Rjukan-Notodden site manifests an exceptional combination of industrial assets and themes associated to the natural landscape. It stands out as an example of a new global industry in the early 20th century.