Syria's vast archaeological sites have suffered extensive damage because of bombing by government warplanes and the demolition of religious shrines by Islamic State militants. But there is an increasing and perhaps more menacing problem: old-fashioned plunder, the Washington Post website reports today (December 20, 2014).
A new report has found evidence of "widespread looting" at locations that Syria has nominated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Under threat are the remains of a Mesopotamian trading post and a 4,500-year-old city that housed thousands of cuneiform tablets, as well as an ancient town with a chapel known for containing the world's oldest depictions of Jesus, according to the report, released this week by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Susan Wolfinbarger -- president of the association's Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project, which produced the study -- said in a statement that "unlike our previous analysis of Syria's World Heritage Sites, we're seeing a lot of damage that appears to be the result of widespread looting."