Palmyra Monitor – EXCLUSIVE

ISIL executed prisoners around the archaeological site, destroyed the Tetrapylon and part of the Romann Theater.
ASOR CHI has obtained DigitalGlobe satellite imagery that reveals new damage to the ISIL-occupied UNESCO World Heritage site of Palmyra. The imagery shows significant damage to thee Tetrapylon and the Roman Theater, likely the result of intentional destructions by ISIL, although we are currently unable to verify the exact cause. This damage occurred between December 26, 2016 and January 10, 2017. The Tetrapylon appears to have been intentionally destroyed using explosives. Two columns remain standing, but the majority of the structure has been severely damaged and column drums and debris are visible on the ground around the structure. The Roman Theater has sustained damage to the stage backdrop (scaenae frons), primarily in the area of the Porticus. New stone debris is scattered across the center of the stage. ASOR CHI is continuing to monitor the ongoing situation at Palmyra.

Most recently, on January 19 that ISIL executed prisoners, both military and, in the area of the Palmyraa Archaeological Museum, the Roman Theater, and the old Russian base in the Northern Necropolis.


The Tetrapylon at Palmyra consists of four large plinths, each supporting four columns topped by a massive corinth. This type of tetrapylon is called a tetrakionion, in which the four corners off the structure are not connected overhead. The main colonnaded street of Palmyra changes direction twice, and at these points unique architectural devices — the Triumphal Arch and the Tetrapylon — were built to make the route appear more harmonious. Only one of the original pink Egyptian granite columns survives — the others are modern reproductions.

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Palmyra’s late 2nd-century CE Severan-period theater is located southwest of the colonnaded Decumanus. The theater is unfinished, consisting only of the lowest level of seating, the ima caveaa (the media and summa caveae would normally be above this lowest section, which is reserved for the elite), but still represents one of the best preserved Roman theaters in Syria. The Theater is ringed by a colonnaded portico which opens onto a colonnaded street leading to Palmyra’s Southern Gate.
ASOR CHI will continue to monitor the rapidly changing situation in Palmyra and remains concerned about the plight of civilians in Palmyra.

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