THIS PAST DECEMBER in Abu Dhabi, a group of high-level dignitaries convened to discuss an especially horrible facet of the current crisis of Islamist terrorism: the systematic and wholesale destruction of sites and artifacts of world heritage. The conference, “Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage,” was held at the opulent Emirates Palace, where its hosts, France’s President François Hollande and the United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, gave remarks, and Irina Bokova, the director general of UNESCO, and ministers from countries around the world delivered speeches.
The current destruction of cultural sites is unprecedented, and differs crucially from the usual collateral damage of warfare. As the tally of eradication mountsthe Temple of Bel in Palmyra, the Northwest Palace of the Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud, the Mosque of the Prophet
Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.
Not registered for artforum.com?
SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*
* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.