Rome’s Coliseum features exhibit of Archaeological Terrorism

ROME — A statue of a human-headed winged bull from the Northwest Palace in Nimrud, Iraq, that was bulldozed by the Islamic State last year to great outcry has been faithfully recreated using modern technology and put on exhibit at the Colosseum in Rome to spur discussion of the possible reconstruction of war-torn archaeological sites.

Full-scale reconstructions were also made of two damaged Syrian sites: the archive room of Ebla and a portion of a ceiling from the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, as examples of how conflict can devastate a nation’s fragile heritage.

“Nimrud was the first place to be destroyed,” said Frances Pinnock, the co-director of the Ebla expedition, the most important Italian archaeological expedition to Syria. “It was a palace known as the Versailles of the ancient Near East, and so it was chosen because it was symbolic.”

“We included Ebla because it represents abandonment, what happens to a site when a mission is no longer present to protect it,” said Ms. Pinnock, who is a member of the scientific committee for the exhibit.

“And Palmyra is a wound” and a place of violent murders, not just of Khalid al-Asaad, the retired chief of antiquities for Palmyra, who was killed in August 2015, three months after the Islamic State took the city, “but of more than a dozen employees, killed in brutal ways only because they tried to protect the heritage,” Ms. Pinnock said.

Though the violence in the Middle East continues, archaeologists and officials from various international organizations continue to explore various options for the reconstruction of archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq once the fighting has abated.

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