A Dartmouth study suggests that ISIS aren't the only ones looting priceless artifacts in the midst of the chaos in Syria.
Reports of looting and destruction in some of the world’s oldest heritage sites in Syria are blamed largely on ISIS, but a recent study suggests that that may not be the case. According to a Dartmouth press release, satellite imagery of more than 1,300 different archaeological sites in Syria reveals that Kurdish YPG, opposition forces Syrian governmental troops have contributed to the destruction of ancient property to a significant degree.
The study shows that looting in the heat of war is the biggest problem in areas where the government is the weakest. Regions held by the Kurdish YPG have had more than 26 percent of their sites looted, while only 21.4 percent of archaeological sites in ISIS territory have been pillaged so far. In regions held by the Syrian regime, only 16.5 percent of the sites had been looted.
The study was led by Jesse Casana, a Middle Eastern archaeology specialist and anthropology professor at Dartmouth. Casana is the director for site databases and remote sensing at ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives, which reported that a total of 25 percent of all of Syria’s archaeological sites had been looted since war first broke out in 2011.
According to Casana, “Most media attention has focused on the spectacles of destruction that ISIS has orchestrated and posted online, and this has led to a widespread misunderstanding that ISIS is the main culprit when it comes to looting of archaeological sites and damage to monuments.
Using satellite imagery, our research is able to demonstrate that looting is actually very common across all parts of Syria, and that instances of severe, state-sanctioned looting are occurring in both ISIS-held and Syrian regime areas.”