Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova on Thursday condemned the destruction of parts of the ancient city of Bosra, a World Heritage List site, in fighting earlier this week, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here.
“Ms. Bokova said that the destruction represents a further escalation in the horror of war and must be stopped at once to preserve the irreplaceable heritage of Bosra,” Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.
Bosra, once the capital of the Roman province of Arabia and an important stopover on the ancient caravan route to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1980.
The well-known ruins included a magnificent 2nd century Roman theater. The theater, exceptional due to its architecture and state of conservation, was most probably built under Trajan, who ruled the Roman Empire from 98 AD to 177 AD, and was fortified between 481 and 1251. It became part of the fortifications of a powerful citadel guarding the road to Damascus, the capital of Syria.
“The protection of cultural sites is part and parcel of the protection of human lives as it is essential for the restoration of peace in Syria,” Bokova said. “The Roman theatre of Bosra embodies the rich diversity of the identity of the people of Syria and I call on culture professionals worldwide, and particularly on the art market, to be extremely vigilant so as to fight against the traffic in artefacts from Bosra.”
Bokova has frequently condemned the destruction of archaeological and cultural sites in the fighting in Syria and Iraq. Extremists will “never be able to erase history,” she declared in October after the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) destroyed the Arch of Triumph in Palmyra, another major Syrian site on the World Heritage List. Enditem