Thursday, 24 June 2021

Looting in Afrin

In Afrin (NW Syria) it is being reported: New grave violations documented in Afrin: Destruction, sabotage of antiquities, and human trafficking Hawar News Agency 23 Jun 2021.

The Turkish occupation state and its terrorist mercenaries continue their crimes and violations against the residents of the occupied city of Afrin at all levels, such as destroying and looting archaeological sites, spreading religious extremism through building mosques, liquidating patients and trading in their organs, in addition to kidnapping children. The Turkish occupation and the mercenaries of the so-called "Ahrar al-Sharqiya" continue to carry out excavation and bulldozing operations through heavy vehicles, in the hill of the ancient village of "Qurba" in the district of Jandres, with the aim of searching for artifacts and hoards, to steal and sell them on the black and European market. The excavation and bulldozing work uprooted dozens of perennial and fruitful olive trees, in addition to destroying a number of cemeteries for the residents of the same village. In another context, a source from the occupied Janders district reported that settlers and mercenaries searched and excavated the archaeological site of Tal Janders district through primitive tools, with the aim of stealing antiquities. It is noteworthy that the Turkish occupation army turned the site of hill of the district into the largest military base in the region, due to its strategic location in occupied Afrin, in addition to building a concrete wall in the vicinity of the base and placing advanced surveillance cameras in it.
Written of course in a very emotive style, so possibly some of this can be taken with a pinch of salt. It is really quite upsetting that while "we" were fighting ISIL, looting, looting was a constant topic. Now very little social media attention is paid to what's happening to archaeology in Syria. Yet if you go to Google Earth and operate the time-slices and look at this area, in connection with the complex political history, you can see a huge amount of changes in the archaeological sites. Who's working on this? Anyone looking for an undergraduate thesis topic?

I want to do some plotting, but other projects taking up a lot of time. I'll get round to it some time - but to be honest in no great hurry, what had happened to one site I'd worked on before made me feel physically ill. On the one hand an army (not clear whose, it changed hands in several phases) and massive expansion in looting for that "black and European market". 

That phrase is interesting because it acknowledges that the objects are actually circulating in some form in and around Syria before being taken to the European market.
 Hat tip:  @ATHARProject and @AnthroPaulicy

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