Syrian Army Discovers Tragic Destruction of Apamea at the Hands of Terrorists
The Head of the Department of Antiquities and Museums of Hama in Syria, Abdul Qader Farzet, has announced that the ancient Syrian city of Apamea, which was recently reclaimed by government forces, has suffered extensive and irreversibly damage by terrorist forces.
Urdu Point news site reports that the Syrian army regained control over the ancient Hellenistic-era city of Apamea on May 6 and discovered that it had been tragically vandalized by the occupying terrorist groups.
Mr Farzet announced that the archaeological site had been heavily excavated using machinery such as bulldozers in an attempt to find ancient treasures. The museum, theater, church and other buildings at the site were also damaged and mosaics were taken away. But the worst acts of destruction occurred along the Great Colonnade Street, which Apamea is famous for.
Left: The Great Colonnade Street in July 2011. Right: The Great Colonnade Street now, littered with holes dug by looters. Credit: Google Inc.
The Ancient City of Apamea
Founded by the first king of the Seleucids in Syria in 300 BC and named after his wife, Afamea, the city of Apamea sits on the bank of the Orontes River in Hama, Syria.
The city flourished under the ancient Greeks and then Romans, and in the Christian era, became a renowned center of philosophy. It is renowned for its immense street of 1200 uniquely-designed columns, the Great Colonnade, which ran for nearly 2 km (1.2 mi), making it among the longest in the Roman world. It also boasts one of the largest surviving theaters of the Roman Empire, with a seating capacity of 20,000.
A mosaic discovered in 1935, known as the Great Hunting Mosaic, dates to the 5 th century and is one of the most superb examples in the world of this type of composition.
Great Hunting Mosaic from the Governor's residence, 414-420 AD (CC by SA 3.0)
It Survived 2,000 Years of Instability
Apamea was sacked by Sasanian Persians in the 6 th century, invaded during the Arab conquest in the 7 th century and suffered fierce fighting in the 12 th century when Crusaders attempted to conquer the city. It was also extensively damaged by numerous earthquakes over the century.
Still, despite 2,000 years of instability and destructive natural forces, much of the city remained standing, until now. Much of this spectacular city has now been destroyed by Islamic fighters and will never be recovered. Some of the destruction of the Apamea Museum can be seen in the video below.
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Syria’s History Lost
“All six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Syria Palmyra, the Krak des Chevaliers castle, Dead Cities between Aleppo and Idlib, Bosra, medieval buildings in Aleppo, and the ancient city of Damascus have suffered significant damage during the conflict,” writes Urdu Point.
Islamic State terrorists have blown up the ancient Assyrian cities Ninevah and Nimrud and taken to millennia-old archaeological treasures with bulldozers and sledgehammers.
It’s difficult to process the unprecedented scale of this heritage destruction, but it pales in comparison to the countless innocent lives lost in this tragedy.
Top image: The famous colonnade street of Apamea which has reportedly been destroyed. (Maurizio / Adobe)