Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Could have been worse

Terrible, but not as bad as I thought.

One thing about the Palmyra site is that it's huge (as I remarked when I visited). I have been to a bunch of ruins of Roman cities before, but Palmyra was the first one that really felt like I was in the ruins of a city--with blocks and blocks of ruined buildings--as opposed to most sites where only a small portion of the original ancient city survives. So while ISIS could knock down the most famous buildings like the Temple of Baalshamin, really destroying the whole site would take a lot of work.

Also, Palmyra is really three archeological sites: the Roman City, the pre-Roman tombs, and the Crusader-era castle. I don't know what the tombs are like now. The NYT photoset stuck to the Roman City, but a year ago there were reports that ISIS was demolishing all the towers. The castle you can see on the bluff between the two columns in the fourth-from-bottom picture.

Have I mentioned that I am really really glad I got to visit Palmyra before the Islamic State got their chance to wreck everything? You can look at the photos I took here.