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September 19, 2006

Conflicting Accounts on Lebanese Sites

Was there any new damage to the Temple of Jupiter?

Were Lebanon's ancient cultural sites damaged during the war? It depends on whom you ask.

According to an AFP article today, and its sources at UNESCO, yes. The article, by Albion Land and Pierre Sawaya, reports:

But while the Ashrafiyeh site was spared the damage of war, the same cannot be said for some of the ancient ruins that dot the country, dating back beyond the Romans, to the Greeks and Phoeniceans.

A team from UNESCO has already begun assessing the damage from 34 days of bombing and shelling to often fragile structures, already ravaged by time, earthquake, looting and previous wars. . . .

UNESCO's deputy director general, Mounir Bouchnaki, told AFP that "the major sites registered on the World Heritage List suffered damages, but it was minimal.

He has visited not only Baalbek, but also sites in Tyre, on the southern Mediterranean coast and Byblos, north of the capital, and said more time will be needed to assess the true extent of damage.

Bouchnaki told a press conference in Paris Monday that the stones of the port would have to be cleaned by hand, one at a time, and that the cost could reach 100,000 dollars. . . .

[The Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek] was spared any direct hits, but Professor Giorgia Croci, a specialist on the temple who was part of the UNESCO team, said "new cracks appeared during the Israeli offensive and a plan of action needs to be developed quickly.

Bouchnaki said a detailed evaluation needs to be carried out over the next six months to determine the true extent of damage. . .

Meanwhile, Lebanese Culture Ministry Director Halablab disagrees. National Geographic reports:

Also on August 21, the government official charged with reconstruction of the country—Fadel al-Shalaq, head of the Lebanese Council for Development and Reconstruction—told CNN that the recent conflict was the most devastating since the 1975 Lebanese civil war. But he did not mention any harm to cultural sites.

Lebanese Culture Ministry Director Halablab told National Geographic News by email that the Israeli military has not targeted such sites. He also confirmed al-Shalaq's statement that no damage was caused to cultural sites during the war.

Posted by TS at September 19, 2006 06:12 AM


Consider this a trackback! Thanks for pointing this out—even if there is damage, though, couldn't it be the result of local neglect? It's not like Muslim groups have *never* destroyed history before...

Posted by: Brian C. Ledbetter at September 19, 2006 09:11 AM

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