Air strike damages Iron Age temple of Ain Dara

Ain Dara, with a view of the entrance to the temple showing the footsteps carved in the floor, which were meant to show the path of the divine entering the temple. Via Wikimedia.

Bombs have destroyed much of the Iron Age temple of Ain Dara in Northern Syria. Reporting indicates the temple was the target of an air strike conducted by Turkey. The temple dated to the 9th century BCE, and was perhaps of a similar design to Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The Hittite temple had survived for 3,000 years, and it has been reported that the temple was deliberately targeted.

Here is a similar view of the temple after the airstrike:

An image of the complex after the alleged Turkish air strikes provided by the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums

The damage seems extensive. Martin Bailey reported for the Art Newspaper that:

Turkey’s air force bombed Ain Dara as part of its military offensive against the Syrian militia YPG (People’s Protection Units), a mainly Kurdish faction which is fighting for autonomy from the Damascus regime of president Bashar al-Assad. The Ankara government is concerned that Syrian Kurds are supporting Kurdish separatists and terrorists in Turkey.

A large basalt lion, discovered in 1955 via wikimedia.

 

There are claims that the temple was deliberately targeted, an action that would certainly contravene the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property during armed conflict. It may even be classified as an action of intentional destruction. The temple has been photographed and documented, so at least some of this damage may be alleviated with modern reconstructions.

Here is some first-hand video from AFP:

International law was unable to prevent this destruction, the open question is whether it will provide a remedy. And if there is a remedy, who will seek it? Syria? A Kurdish state?

 

1 thought on “Air strike damages Iron Age temple of Ain Dara”

  1. These days, we see case after case of the wanton destruction of priceless artifacts like these—often ideologically motivated. The reputedly altruistic international community and cultural property preservationists seem powerless and unable to stem that tide. So, what do they do? They attack the indefensible private citizens of the world who really do protect and preserve, as well as educate, through their love of the past. Private collections are the safest and most productive form of preservation, as a millenium of collector contributions has proven. Rather than trying to tear down that ageless and natural tendancy, one would think that Cultural Property Nationalists would embrace it and enlist the support of a huge potential ally. In a rather perverse way, their myopic ideology is as destructive as that of those destroying these major monuments.

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