Saturday, 15 November 2014

Mari Extensive Ongoing Looting Revealed

The Syrian Heritage Initiative of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) has shown evidence of a pronounced increase in looting under ISIL control of the very important ancient site of Mari (Tell Hariri) in Deir ez-Zor, Syria.
Artifacts stolen from this and other heritage sites are sold to collectors, and the proceeds fund ISIL. On Tuesday, November 11th, imagery was taken of the site of Mari by a Digital Globe satellite which reveals widespread looting.  In the hours after the image was taken, the ASOR SHI team analyzed the image to detail in red the extents of visible damage and looting.  The areas show a marked increase from the looting seen at the site on an earlier image taken on March 25, 2014.

Image of Mari (Tell Hariri) March 25th (ASOR blog)


These images and more details on the analysis made by ASOR’s Syrian Heritage Initiative team will be in the coming Weekly Reports.
See also: 'Looting and Destruction In Mari, Tell Hariri Syria' PACHI Monday, 26 November 2012 for my earlier incomplete version of the same story.

'Syria, Who is Digging Up What Where?', PACHI Thursday, 16 October 2014 [note my discussion - scroll down - of the chronology of this looting, which is interesting to compare with the new version of the story!]

'New Imagery of Archaeological Site Looting in Syria', PACHI Monday, 23 June 2014. [the appearance of the photos of March - note the point about holes going through spoil heaps].

'Arms for Antiquities: Syrian Artifact Smuggling Bleeds Sites Dry', PACHI Saturday, 14 September 2013
[an oblique mention]

'Syria (1) Evidence of Looting from Google Earth as of 5th May 2013, Southwestern part', PACHI Sunday, 26 May 2013 [when I searched Google earth for evidence - hampered by the available photos being rather old - there was not a lot that could be seen]

'Looting and Destruction In Mari, Tell Hariri Syria', PACHI Monday, 26 November 2012 [here a video of  21st December 2012 already shows the site suffering neglect, damage and looting].
From the distribution of the holes, this looting seems very likely to be the work of the villagers whose houses are just nearby (and who may have worked on the sites when the archaeologists were digging here), it also started back before ISIL at the latest in December 2012. Could it be the case that the villagers were initially digging up stuff and selling objects to middlemen from Iraq across the border just 17 km away which is how this started?  

 The Syrian Heritage Initiative is also holding a symposium in San Diego on November 23, 2014 which will include two sessions that are open to the general public and will feature a keynote presentation on looting in the region—especially the role of the Islamic State in this looting.

Anon. 'Extensive Recent Looting Revealed' ASOR blog, n.d. [after 11th, before 15th November]

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