The systematic destruction of art and historical and religious sites continued this month with another crime against humanity by Islamic State militants. The extremists reject images of the human body as violations of Islamic teachings and despise earlier civilizations that were not based on their Islamic traditions. So, after destruction priceless artifacts and art in the museum in Mosul, IS destroyed the the ancient Assyrian archaeological site near Mosul. The loss is truly incalculable for humanity.
My kids have students the Nimrud civilization as one of the great periods of human growth in science and culture. It is part of the world’s heritage in an area legitimately called the cradle of civilization.
Nimrud was the second capital of Assyria. IS appears has eradicated Assyrian art and artifact, erasing evidence of an ancient kingdom that began in about 900 B.C. and rose to become a great power. Nimrud was destroyed in 612 B.C. but its remnants located on the Tigris River remained as one of the most important historical sites in the world. Until the Islamic State arrived.
I have previously discussed the anti-intellectual bent of the IS. It is not surprising that a movement based on medieval values and religious orthodoxy would despise any alternative historical or religious values. In order to force others to live by this extreme code, one has to prevent them from being exposed to any rational or alternative values, even historical sites that are a proud part of their heritage. The actions are reminiscent of the infamous destruction of the famous giant Buddhas of Bamiyan.
In a sense, Nimrud represents everything that ISIS stands against: the advancement of medicine, astrology, agriculture, trade and commerce. It was a civilization that took a great leap forward as opposed to ISIS that seeks to return areas to medieval conditions and religious practices. The despicable destruction of this site shows ISIS to be a threat to the very core of humanity. This was not just their history that was bulldozed. It is the history of us all. It was the record of humanity’s effort to make sense out of the world and to advance our knowledge of science and medicine.
What is equally distressing is that ISIS has secured allies among Sunni tribes who have watched such sites being destroyed as well as the systematic slaughter of captives. The U.S. and its allies are seeking to get these clans to switch sides after they supported an organization that has committed countless atrocities against religious minority and historical and religious sites. The Iraqi government has offered amnesty for these militiamen in order to fight ISIS, particularly in the fight of Mosul. Yet, it is becoming increasingly clear that ISIS intends to leave little but destruction in its wake.