A fascinating new series of radio shows on BBC Radio 4, Museum of Lost Objects traces the histories of
10 antiquities or cultural sites that have been destroyed or looted in Iraq and Syria. There are 10 episodes about different objects or sites that are now defaced or destroyed altogether. The series makes the case that, in creating this museum of human memory, the sites actually persist in the lives of the people who have been among them.
The first episode can be found here:
The series is also available as podcasts. Episode 2 tells the story of the Temple of Bel, and Khaled al-Asaad director of antiquities at Palmyra who was beheaded by IS. His daughter tells us about when IS militants took over her home and her last words with her father. Khaled al-Assad is part of an earlier post about monuments men here.
Update: NPR aired a piece about ordinary Syrians involved in an operation to hide thousands of objects from ISIS. The audio interview and transcript is under 4 minutes and can be found on npr.org. It is highly recommended and deals with the questions of saving souls and stones. One Syrian historian said it isn’t an exclusive choice between lives or stones, rather that the site is integral to the lives of the people who have lived there; it is in their consciousness and not separable from them.
Update: A new NPR article has been published since the first time, on Friday, that the ancient city of Palmyra has been entered and photographed post ISIS occupation. The modern city is deserted; many people died during the occupation. The ancient city is in a disastrous state and yet Syrians are already discussing how to recover and how much can be saved. Listen to these segments and then view the article to see the images.