International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Devastation of Cultural Heritage and Memory in Syria and Iraq: Component of a Multi-level Provocation Strategy?
Prof. Dr. Andreas Dittmann, Associate Prof. Dr. Hussein Almohamad

The ongoing destruction and looting of cultural heritage in Mesopotamia is being carried out by activists of the so-called Islamic State (IS). While on the one hand complete eradication of archaeological sites and findings is aimed at gaining the attention of the international media, on the other hand the trade in historical artefacts is one of the group’s main sources of funding. The destroyed objects include unique and irretrievable cultural heritage from ancient times, which hold the record of the dawn of mankind. These were attacks on memory, society and civilization. Several centres of the early phase in the development of writing as well as places of origin of state buildings have been razed to the ground or are endangered. In international discourse, such demolitions are often described as a barbaric form of the destruction of idols. In contrary to this view, this article gives background information on the role of such demolitions as the final step of the IS strategy to provoke reactions.

Full Text: PDF