Why Terrorists Ruin Cultural Heritage

Cultural Artifacts are extremely important in order to help archeologists learn about a country’s cultural background..

In todays blog post we will be discussing, why the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group was destroying so many cultural sites as well as artifacts in both Syria as well as Iraq.

From ancient Mesopotamia to the Roman Empire, Muslim and Ottoman conquests, the region around the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers — today comprised largely of Syria and Iraq — is one of the oldest and most storied places in the world. ISIS came in and destroyed the region’s cultural heritage.

This cultural heritage that they destroyed has not only impacted Syria and Iraq but as a matter of fact impacted the world as these cultural heritage sites are extremly important to the worlds history and civilisation.

The Islamic State (ISIS) destorys cultural artifacts because they believe those artifacts go aganist the Sharia Law, in which they were hoping to make compulsoray in both Syria and Iraq, they believed that those cultural heritage sites as well as artifacts ts do not aligned with the Islamic religion that they were hoping to spread around Syria and Iraq.

Now this is extremely wrong and ISIS had its own definition of Islam, because a true Muslim would never try to destroy such important sites and artifacts that helped the world understand how civilization started and how humans lived back in the days. Islam appreciates culture as well as learning from cultures.

“Cultural heritage is essential to the identity of human beings, and especially to human communities”

The true reason as to why I think ISIS wanted to destroy all those cultural heritage sites as well as artifacts was to show people their power, to let them know that they wanted to erase histroy and start a new land in Syria and Iraq, it was a way for them to start a new culture and create history (in the worst and most inhumane way possible). ISIS was not satisfied with just killing people, they needed more, and that is exactly what they did. Truly barbaric.

Now we will have a look at some of the important cultural heritage sites as well as artifacts that ISIS destroyed…

In Syria ISIS destroyed some of the most historical places not only in the region itself but for the whole world


Mari is a place in Syria that helped archaeologists understand civilisation better. Mari existed in the Bronze Age, backdated to the 3000 to 1600 B.C. Under ISIS in 2014, the site suffered an immediate explosion of looting.


Hatra which was bulit back in the third century B.C. in Iraq was once named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985. It was the capital of an independent kingdom on the outskirts of the Roman Empire. ISIS of course felt the need to destroy it.

Mar Elian Monastery

This place was a Christian monastery, it was captured in August 2015, when ISIS militants captured the Syrian town of al-Qaryatain near Palmyra. After they captured the town they demolished the Christian monastery.

Courtesy of BBC

Now the examples that I have shown here are only the tip of the iceberg, ISIS has destroyed many cultural heritage sites and artifacts that I have not mentioned. One thing that we need to understand is that what they have destroyed does not only affect one country but a whole region.

The Islamic State has also sold some artifacts on the blackmarket in order to fund their barbaric behaviours.

Courtesy of The Guardian

This leads me to question,

What could we have done in order to avoid this from happening, and could we have done something more than what we did in order to stop them from destroying and looting cultures?….



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Haya Shaban

Haya Shaban

Currently doing my Masters in Strategic Communication Management! with a Bachelor degree in Political Science, and a strong passion for blogging…..