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Palmyra had been guarded in good hands

Written by Diana Kasem

The Levant News Exclusive -Damascus- Many activists have again Renewed the call for candidating Nobel Peace Prize in memory of the Syrian Archeologist Khaled al-Asaad.

al-Asaad was a Syrian archaeologist and the head of antiquities for the ancient city of Palmyra; a UNESCO world heritage site. He held this position for over 40 years. al-Asaad was publicly beheaded by ISIS. He was 83 years old.

During his career, he engaged in the excavations and restoration. He had become the principal custodian of the Palmyra site for 40 years since 1963, working with different international missions, and He elevated Palmyra to a world Heritage Site. He was also fluent in Aramiac and regularly translated texts.

In 2001, he announced the discovery of 700 7th-century silver coins bearing images of Kings Khosru I  and Khosru II.  He was part of a Syrian-Polish team that uncovered a 3rd-century mosaic which portrayed a struggle between a human and a winged animal. He described it as “one of the most precious discoveries ever made in Palmyra”.

He was a sought-after speaker at conferences, presenting his vigorous and extensive research. Leading academics and researchers spoke warmly of his affection for Palmyra and his mastery of its history. When he retired in 2003, his son Walid took on the mantle of his work at the site of Palmyra. They both were reportedly detained by ISIS.


Al-Asaad refused to lead the terrorists to Palmyra’s priceless artifacts. It’s not a dark-ages film, but a modern tragic Syrian reality, and the hero was beheaded in a public square on 18 August 2015.

His relatives said that his blood-soaked body was then suspended with red twine by its wrists from a traffic light, his head resting on the ground between his feet, his glasses still on, according to a photo distributed on social media by IS supporters.


International societies have reacted and condemned his death; like UNESCO’s general director Irina Bokova and Dario Franceschini, the Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage, activities and Tourism, who announced that the flags of all Italian museums would be flown at half-mast in honor of al-Asaad.

The Italian archeologist, Anna Murmura, has  renewed a Campaign on Change.org. It is a call in memory for the Syrian archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad, nominating this brave man, who defended a humanistic cultural heritage against the waves of Barbarians, for Nobel Peace Prize. It is worth mentioning that Nobel Peace Prize was criticized many times. Some commentators have suggested that to award a peace prize on the basis of unquantifiable contemporary opinion is unjust or possibly erroneous, especially as many of the judges cannot themselves be said to be impartial observers. Following Gandhi’s death, the Nobel Committee declined to award a prize on the ground that “there was no suitable living candidate”. It is not possible to nominate someone for a posthumous Nobel Prize.

The appeal in honor of Khaled al-Asaad, was already signed by 31,957 users on Change.org!  For us, the issue is not Nobel itself, but this campaign which helps in delivering the voice of a country suffering a painful war.

Khaled al-Asaad held a diploma in history and was educated at the university of Damascus. He was born in Palmyra, Syria 1932, lived there and paid his life for.

History tells that Zenobia, the beautiful Syrian queen of Palmyra empire, died refusing to be taken as hostage to Rome. Our hero al-Asaad has also sacrificed himself for saving our cultural dignity, at the same site in the heart of Syria. Is the Similarity between the two stories a mere coincidence? It’s a must that this story has to be turned into a peace message for all the world.


Sources: abruzzo24ore.tv, wikipedia.org, change.org and nobelprize.org


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